Random Word Spam

Why do I get spammed with email that contains nothing but seemingly random words?


Will's picture
Will on January 12, 2004 - 01:01 Permalink

I’m getting the same thing too, it doesn’t even make any sense.

Arthur's picture
Arthur on January 12, 2004 - 02:43 Permalink

It’s a message from the past! Quick! Where’s the DeLorean?

al o'neill's picture
al o'neill on January 12, 2004 - 03:00 Permalink

squeak lightbulb nest crate.

Fern mega applesauce.

Alan's picture
Alan on January 12, 2004 - 04:05 Permalink

Not with those almanac connections of yours you shouldn’t.

Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on January 12, 2004 - 04:40 Permalink

These messages perplex me too. I can’t at least understand the motive behind advertising spam (evil though it may be). Who is taking the time to send these things? Viruses perhaps?

Daniel Von Fange's picture
Daniel Von Fange on January 12, 2004 - 05:14 Permalink

Trying to hurt baysien filters maybe?

The emails I don’t understand are the ones with a subject, but no body text…

Kevin's picture
Kevin on January 12, 2004 - 12:53 Permalink

Random word spam says something about the nature of vandalism. Perhaps the ultimate example of Marshall MacLuhen’s “the medium is the message” is now upon us.

It seems only the vehicle interests these spamshiners; just the prospect of getting it past all the filters is sufficient motivation. (reminds me of the spray-on violence committed by so many “artists” in the alleys and dark streets of our nation against the property and lives of the innocent — in fact it *has to be* the same debauched mind-set which causes these two phenomena)

Shawn's picture
Shawn on January 12, 2004 - 16:22 Permalink

My sister (Halifax) bought Aliant High Speed internet self install on December 17th. She tried installing it on the 19th. It connected, but wouldn

Mark Hemphill's picture
Mark Hemphill on January 12, 2004 - 16:48 Permalink

Is it a tactic of ‘fishing’ for plausible spam targets? The jarbled nonsense would identify a run of random auto-generated emails and then a simple cross-reference with those which bounce would leave with a list of the real. Then of course they sell the list.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on January 13, 2004 - 19:19 Permalink

Here’s what I’ve tentatively concluded: these messages, which contain no content other than the random words, are sent out so that the email address in question has some chance of being seen as a “valid” or “whitelisted” email address. I would assume that following along shortly will be actual content-containing spam from the same email address.

Ken's picture
Ken on January 13, 2004 - 20:07 Permalink

Is this the answer?

This is happening because of the success of spam filters, non-sense is the only way through.

kevin's picture
kevin on January 13, 2004 - 21:58 Permalink

In response to Shawn, most likely the email address had previously existed and began to get spam then. When someone asks for a specific userid we (ISN) will give it to them with a soft warning if it had been in use before to expect more spam at startup than a new id.

Chris Corrigan's picture
Chris Corrigan on January 14, 2004 - 09:51 Permalink

Here’s something else: it seems like I am getting spam from names tyhat are vaguely familiar. It’s as if spammers are somhow mining my address book and cobbling together identities that look trustworthy to the quick scanning eye.

I have no proof that anything like this is happening, but there are uncanny incidents. So far there have been no spam messages from real names, but my friend Harrison’s first name seems to get appended to my frind Michale’s last name, and I get spam from Harrison Herman. Weird. Spam paranoia

David Ruderman's picture
David Ruderman on January 21, 2004 - 16:10 Permalink

Hmmm, I was wondering what was going on with these random words and random characters. I think it all comes down to statistics. Many random words means no static pattern to match, plus reduced likelihood of being filtered since there is an overall smaller percentage of spam key words.

We use spam-asassin which lets this kind of message through. It has 19 words followed by a linked-image:

Our US Licensed Doctors will Prescribes Your Medication For Free Medications Shipped Overnight To Your Do. show Me more

The text was followed by 297 random dictionary words.

Iain Waugh's picture
Iain Waugh on January 27, 2004 - 11:41 Permalink

The random word spams are an attempt to break the Bayesian filtering used by Spam Assasin, Mozilla and other anti-spam tools.

Explained simply, Bayesian filtering works by applying a score value to all words in an email. When you receive a mail, you mark it as spam or not spam. If you mark the mail as spam, a negative score is applied to each word in the mail. If you mark it as not spam, a positive score is applied.

Over a fairly short period of time, you have ‘trained’ your spam filter to block spam because words that are commonly found in spam mails are given a strong negative value. Adding up the scores of the words in the mail will give a positive or negative value. Negatives are marked as spam.

The random word mails are trying to break the Bayesian filters by marking down words that would normally appear in a legitimate mail.

P.S. Putting your email address on a website is a certain way to attract spam. Try to hide it using joe(at)here(dot)com or other techniques.

Oz's picture
Oz on January 31, 2004 - 01:44 Permalink

The random names of people you know thing has been noticed by me too. I keep getting junk from people whose names sound familiar, but they’re not exactly correct. Always makes me look twice, but I can still hit delete faster than the messages can make an impact.

The worrying thing is, someone must really be buying this herbal erection crap if so many spams are trying to sell it.

david's picture
david on January 31, 2004 - 22:51 Permalink

architecture penguin catalogue misanthrope boilerplate unnecessary bus recent multiple random generation reply your neighborhood here meaningless modern decay ware idiosyncratic polymath and also to you amen typo giveaway subjunctive sesquipedalian dance

Kent's picture
Kent on February 4, 2004 - 19:08 Permalink

The obvious way to filter SPAM at the ISP would be to create fake email addresses, and put them in places where they will be “harvested”, like newsgroups, discussion boards, and free email accounts. Then, anything coming to those fake email addresses is SPAM. Find the links in the SPAM, and filter any email (to anyone) conatining the link.

Andrea's picture
Andrea on March 10, 2004 - 20:36 Permalink

To block unsolicited email, insist that people place a keyword in the email title, and create a rule which turfs all emails which do not sport the keyword. Simple!

buster's picture
buster on October 12, 2010 - 10:10 Permalink

Ok, I think it’s possible that these are anagrams. In which case the message that al O’neill recieved “squeak lightbulb nest crate. Fern mega applesauce. ” Might actually be:

Frequent Scrabble Shuttle Alpaca Geese Puma King” Spooky, don’t you think?.
If indeed this is a coded Al Q’aieda message, then I fear they may have seriously upped their game. :-s. All I can say is that good men and women out there need to start keeping a close eye on their Alpaca.