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Seemingly Pointless Spam with No Links or Payload

From time to time, users may receive rather bizarre spam emails with no links, attachments or any sort of payload at all. The messages do not contain any hidden scripts, images or web beacons that could be of use to the spammers.

As a means of avoiding spam filters, the emails generally contain random snippets of text. The text is generally copied from various literary works, scientific and technical articles, or news reports.  Or it may be just strings of words with no particular meaning. This random text tactic is commonly used in spam campaigns.  The idea is to confuse spam filters by submerging words or phrases that may trigger spam filters among many other words that will not be flagged.

But, in the case of the strange spam emails discussed here, there ARE no trigger words. The messages do not attempt to sell or promote anything at all.

The motivation for sending these spam emails is not always clear-cut. In fact, there are several possible motives for these seemingly pointless spam campaigns.
The messages may be attempts to identify email addresses that are no longer active so that they can be removed from the spammer database. Email addresses that bounce back the sent messages can be automatically flagged and removed.

The messages may be sent with the expectation that at least a few recipients will reply to ask what the emails are about. Such "validated" email addresses, especially those with an apparently guileless owner who has shown his or her willingness to respond to an unsolicited message, are a valuable resource for spammers and scammers and may be elevated to a primary list.

The messages may be test runs sent as a prelude to more serious phishing or malware attacks. A way for the spammer to test his systems and evaluate responses.

The messages may be the result of mistakes or misconfigurations by the spammer. The spammer may have simply forgot to add the spam link or the link or other payload may have been stripped out by the software system the spammer is using.

It is also possible that a spam filtering system automatically removed the payload, although such systems would generally include some sort of notification that a removal had taken place.

Of course, some spam emails sent in HTML format may contain images or web-beacons that can tell the sender when the email is opened. Or, they may even contain hidden scripts designed to phone home or connect to malicious websites. But, again, the spam messages discussed here do not include any of these elements.

Bottom line? As with other types of spam, the best policy is the ever-trusty delete key. Do not reply to the messages. Just bin them and be done with it.

3d person analyzes spam



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: The Slaton Bakery, Slaton, TX IMG 4660

National Association of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. In singles he has won five ITF Futures tournaments.

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.

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Last updated: October 1, 2013
First published: October 1, 2013
By Brett M. Christensen
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Drive-by Spam Emails Infect Computers Without Links or Attachments