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Sex, pills & scams

Written by Marc Chouinard on . Posted in All about Spam

These three words reflect 90% of the spam traffic for May-June 2010.

Scams: Between fake Twitter emails and classic Nigerian 419, there was a rise of new phishing attempts using .html attachment files.  Instead of placing URLs in an email, spammers are obfuscating the link in an attached .html file that contains Javascript, cutting the URL into undetectable parts. To entice the reader into clicking on the link, the email will announce important news/results regarding the World Cup, friends on Facebook and, of course, the compromised account/password reset. Clicking on the link usually infects you instantly.

Pills: This is probably the biggest market on the Internet, producing almost 70% of total traffic. Can you really buy pills over the Internet??  I decided to grab a prepaid credit card and try it out! The first thing I noticed was that ALL the “pill-spam-links” that go to thousands of websites usually end up at the same 3 stores. So the first money-making step 1 in this story is probably a pay-per-click reference style. After 2 or 3 redirects, you’ll reach one of the 3 main web sites (sometimes with different names but the shopping cart is usually the same URL). So after browsing the sites using spam links (and getting a few malware along the way), I chose the classic blue pill. Even if most of these “Canadian Pharmacy” websites claim NO PRESCRIPTION NEEDED, you usually need to fax or scan one to order – AFTER you enter your personal information.  I found a site via Google where we really can order the blue pill without any prescription, shipped from Canada! Only 79 cents per pill, but I have to order a 40$ kit (which is the lowest amount I saw).  I clicked Checkout, went on a secured website, Click, Click, and I was done! My pills are on the way…  But that was 45 days ago. Maybe I should have ordered from one of the 3 main websites! .. I’m still waiting for my package.

Sex:
“Direct” sex spam has been on the decline for a few years, but derivative sex related spam is still here. What I call a derivative sex spam is that cute blonde who wants to be your friend on a popular social website, that Russian wife you can order via the web that desperately needs a warm man (oh come on!), or that friend who got your email from a friend via another friend. Anything that can trigger a response from a vulnerable single person: sex. Guys, admit it!  And I won’t start on the “Look for singles in your area.” This line should be banned from the Internet. But we can’t do that: popular free email providers advertise for these companies in their automatically generated footers.

So are the 3 types really different?  No, they’re all scams that target vulnerable people who are alone or medically desperate.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the remaining 10%: 7% of that is random crap, and 3% are miscellaneous goodies.

 

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Marc Chouinard

Marc Chouinard

Marc Chouinard is an expert’s expert who has more than 15 years of IT experience. As Head of a Security Operations Team, he is always available, responding 24/7 to new threats: “Sleeping is a waste of time!” A natural fixer of broken things, he has an uncommon approach to problem solving and a phenomenal (some say scary) memory for numbers. Non-technical individuals might refer to what Marc does as IT Voodoo. Oh, and did we mention he has a great sense of humor too?

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