Study identifies spamming techniques

The amount of spam you receive may depend on the first letter in your email address.

 

According to analysis by the University of Cambridge, it found that of 500 million junk messages, those e-mail addresses starting with an ‘A', ‘M' or ‘S' got more than 40 per cent spam, while those beginning with a ‘Q' or ‘Z' got about 20 per cent.

 

Computer scientist Dr Richard Clayton, who did the research, found that the difference could be down to the way spammers generate e-mail addresses they want to target. He found a wide discrepancy in the amounts of junk that different addresses received which seemed to hinge on their initial letters.

 

He said that spammers often carry out so-called ‘dictionary' attacks, where they take the part of a live e-mail address in front of the ‘@' symbol that they know is live, and add that to other net domain names to generate a new one. So spammers who know that there is a real person attached to john@example.com may try sending to john@another.com to see if that reaches a live account.

 

Dr Clayton said the research had thrown up some anomalies that needed further research. For instance, he said, addresses starting with the letter ‘U' appear to get more than 50 per cent spam despite there being relatively few of them.

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