The weak link in the spam war is always people

I always appreciate clever spam, at least aesthetically — it may be evil, but evil-and-smart isn’t quite as irritating as evil-and-stupid.

In this particular case, it was a comment in The Art of Conversation, which hit my moderation filter a few minutes ago.  The comment itself is simple but well-designed to stroke the ego: “Just passing by. Btw, your website have great content!”  (Okay, so they blew their English roll.  But that’s not unusual in the blogosphere.)  I actually contemplated approving the comment, but the sheer generic-ness of it made me pause an extra second.  And that pause was long enough to actually look at the signature — which is, of course, a link to a make-money-fast scheme.

I hadn’t previously realized that I don’t pay much attention to signatures, but somewhere along the line I clearly started tuning them out.  Going to have to be more careful about that in the future.

And there’s an important general point here: automated tools can only do so much in the fight against spam.  There was nothing technically sophisticated about this particular attempt to place spam in my blog, just a little smart social engineering.  They appealed to my ego, betting that I wouldn’t read the rest of the message closely enough to realize I was being used.  And they almost got me, despite my being pretty sensitive to these ploys.

What have you been seeing lately?  Has anything new and different from the spammers caught your eye?

4 Responses to “The weak link in the spam war is always people”

  1. Elizabear Says:

    I just got my first “We’re from the Nigerian Justice Department, and we want to make sure you got back the money the scammers took from you”. At least it was something new and interesting.

    And I just got a ping disguised as someone trying to get in touch regarding an urgent family matter; “Is this Vanessa? I need to get hold of Vanessa …” I know it was a fake because the sender was from “”, and it went to a disposable email address I gave to a web site a few weeks ago.


  2. -dsr- Says:

    It occurs to me that you might be interested in coming to the Spam Conference at MIT, now in its third or fourth year.

    Usually a bunch of good papers/presentations, ranging from “how well do these systems work?” through “what’s the state of the net?” and “here’s something new”.

  3. metahacker Says:

    “We’re from the Nigerian Justice Department; we’re here to help you”? :)

    This is one of the real dangers of social networking sites making so much data visible; it’s easier to craft a believable phish. “Mr. Smith? This is your girlfriend Barbara. I need you to send our Bank of America information. I broke my T-Mobile phone when I was off with my friend Dora last night; remember I posted pictures of it? So can you send the info to this address instead? Or just email me when you get back to your house at 117 West Wherever Lane.”

  4. Justin Says:

    It occurs to me that you might be interested in coming to the Spam Conference at MIT, now in its third or fourth year.

    Hmm. That’s damned intriguing, yes. I need to think about it — it’s two days off from work, which isn’t trivial for me to afford, but at least parts of the subject are quite relevant for me. Thanks for the pointer…

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