Spammers profit from change-of-address tactics

15 Sep 2006

High-volume spammers stepped up their efforts significantly last month and the security company McAfee has uncovered a new trend in major junk email campaigns.

Among the statistics monitored by McAfee are the duration of spam campaigns and the number of unique web addresses or URLs that are used by the senders. According to McAfee, junk email tends to include links to websites selling the wares that are being promoted in the mails, such as discounted products or medicines.

As a way of making their messages harder to detect by spam-filtering technology, high-volume spammers typically use several different internet addresses or variations. Data retrieved by McAfee shows that August saw a massive spike in the number of internet domains being used: 72pc more per hour than in the previous month.

Not only are spammers using many more URLs than usual, they are cycling through them faster as well. “It’s a cat-and-mouse game where spammers try to change their URLs faster than the anti-spam companies can react,” commented Guy Roberts, development manager at McAfee. “If it takes traditional blacklists 15 to 20 minutes to block a site, then that’s how fast the spammers need to change their URLs. Since domains cost only US$6 per registration, the spammer is spending less than US$100 for four hours of advertising.”

By Gordon Smith