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Hidden Text in Spam Emails

I often receive emails that ask why random text is sometimes hidden within HTML spam messages. You may not even see these hidden messages unless you view the source code of the email. Depending on the configuration of your email client, the hidden text may be rendered visible when you reply or forward the message. Sometimes, highlighting empty space in the spam message will reveal the hidden text.

This hidden text is a common component of spam messages. Spammers include hidden text in their HTML emails in order to try to trick spam filters. A lot of spam filters are configured to detect messages that contain certain words, phrases or ways of structuring sentences that are commonly indicative of spam. If these indicators add up to a significant percentage of the message, the filter will block the message as spam.

The hidden text can effectively dilute the overall "count" of these spam indicators, so that the message can sneak through the filter. Many recipients would not see the hidden text, or even know it existed, but it is easily "seen" by the spam filtering software.

The buried messages usually consist of random words or phrases that have nothing to do with the visible content of the email. Sometimes, it is tempting to attach some intrinsic significance to the hidden messages. However, I believe that they are just unconnected words, letters and numbers tacked together by the spammer. The messages have no meaning of their own and are added only to fool spam filters.

I have included some examples lifted from various spam emails below:

Subject: For many years radiators were made from brass or copper cores soldered to brass headers.

In 2003, Johnston retired from the CPS as a patrol sergeant. SAM believes sporting events which pit different nations against each other lead to racism.

Subject: Gonzalo Guerrero that have survived until today

The entire Los Alamos laboratory was reorganized in 1944 to focus on designing a workable implosion bomb. The west of the municipality is largely mountainous, with much of the western coastline rising steeply a little way inland.

ghastly climatology astigmatism
Go Web in 1898 stars battle
driving at? Forget it!
Everything to our topic Health world OFFBEAT
whats going on engine
Family Hold on in 1951 The thing is
Snowboarding Miss World
in 1814 in 1871 I am on a Spice Girls
don't feel well in 1979
Absent Without Leave Red Herring

Write-up by Brett M.Christensen