Thursday, November 24, 2005

Struck by spam

The ingenuity humans show when the incentive is some money is always extraordinary to me. Today I got what is, to me, a very obvious spam email. The second paragraph had a link to some website selling unidentified products (the email just said

we got almost every item that anyx ch3 mist has. whether its E - D- that you i need or tram a doll, Value ims or even XX anan all is here.
Great, I'll have two of those.) But the last 75% or so of the email was made up of coherent English sentences, though there was no sense in the whole passage. I was fascinated as to how these were created. I googled a sectence at random. It was a hit, and its source was 1998 Conference Proceedings, though what conference I didn't check. The whole of the following paragraph was identical to that in the email:
"Mark at 27 months looked ?normal?. He came from a good family who provided lots of stimulation. Mark had one word--'ba' as in 'Ball.' Everything was 'ba.' After a few days of orientation in the classroom, I presented the computer. The first day he sat at the computer for 20 minutes and pressed the ball, bus, bee on the IntelliKeys keyboard over and over again. He then looked at me and pointed to the ball and said ?Ba? Then he pointed to the bee and said 'Be' and the Bus and said 'Bu.' I was astonished and his mother started to cry."
A few other paragraphs were also featured in the email, though in the email these were separated by paragraphs from another site. What I find most extraordinary is that people would go so far just to get past a filter. When it is received, how many people are going to be tempted by a messy email, unclear as to the products it's selling, and full of unrelated text? This should be found out, if only for curiosity's sake. Spam, and the fightback against it, is an exemplar of human ingenuity that I hope, if it has not been already, is studied and analysed thoroughly. I'd be a keen reader of the resultant report, for sure.


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