Addressing Image Spam

Have you noticed an increasingly large number of email messages coming into your inbox that have the text information imbedded within graphic images? I have, and they really bug me. I know they irritate many of my information assurance professional colleagues as well. Some of these spam messages are very creative. All clutter my already overflowing email. They waste precious storage, and also clog bandwidth on enterprise networks. This is image spam.

Spam of all kinds is a pain. There is even a new initiative that has been launched, SPAMFRIT.ORG, that is urging consumers to do business with web sites that have a “SpamFrit Spam-Free Initiative Validation Sticker” on the site so they can be assured of not receiving spam as a result of doing business with the site. Their list of companies that are spam offenders is interesting.
I haven’t noticed any spam coming to my inbox from the companies they listed, but I sure do see it coming from organizations wanting to sell some type of pill to increase, enlarge or otherwise enhance assorted appendages and capabilities, sell hot stocks, or make some other type of break-through life improvement claim.
In the past year I was set up with corporate email addresses at a couple of different clients that I was doing projects for. In both cases when I logged into their corporate email system for the first time the first messages that greeted me were explicit spam messages, at least half of which were image spam. Both clients did a bit of cursing under their breath about spam, then asked their email server admins to tweak the filters.
I’ve read various reports of the threat of animated image spam to be the next to make their way into your inbox. It will take a clever spam filter to analyze and keep those irritations out of your network along with all the other spam.
Business leaders need to know the issues involved with fighting spam in general, and image spam in particular, so they can provide the resources necessary to address spam. I just posted a paper to this site, “Addressing Image Spam” to help business leaders, email users, and anyone interested, understand the general issues around image spam and the associated risks.
Check it out and let me know if you find it helpful in raising the awareness of the folks in your organizations for image spam issues.

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