NY Times: Spam 2.0 is 90% of All E-mail

In a depressing story for marketers, today's New York Times reports that spammers in Russia, Eastern Europe and Asia are surreptitiously hijacking networks of computers to send out "image spam." The new "Spam 2.0" eludes most spam blockers, like Postini.

Even worse: 90% of all emails sent on the Internet are spam.

Junk e-mail is "now out of control," said Mehran Sabbaghian, a network engineer at the Sacramento Web hosting company Lanset America.  The new wave of spam is so huge it clogged the company's servers and delayed delivery of email for hours in November.

Spam 2.0:

  • Typically promotes penny stocks. Spammers buy the stock, blast out the spam and then sell the stock.  The scam actually works.
  • The spam arrives from legitimate IP addresses.  Spammers hijack people's computers by putting spam delivery software on Web sites, and visitors unknowingly download the software when they visit.  The infected computers begin sending out spam without their knowledge.
  • The hijacked computers, or "botnets," send emails with no text, which filters would catch.   Instead they contain images filtered with speckles or dots that slip past spam blockers.
  • Each time a spam email is sent, the delivery software changes a few pixels, which gives each email a unique fingerprint, fooling volume filters on anti-spam programs.
  • The spammers are overseas, beyond the reach of the federal Can-Spam Act of 2003, which has been a failure since it was enacted.

This is bad news for legitimate e-mail marketers, such as law firms, publishers and conference sponsors.  In the meantime, I refer e-mail marketers to "E-Marketing in the world of SPAM" which outlines the basics of designing your emails so that they are not mistaken for spam.

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