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“Anti-spam” with a bit of humour

Read: 13401 Comments: 3 Rating: 9

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Brian Weinreich, researcher, co-founder, and head of product at Density, Inc., made the source codes of the spam-combatting botnet MLooper (aka Sp@m Looper) freely available. Unlike intelligent filters that use special email-analysis systems, this bot is not designed to filter messages. Instead it tries to eat up spammers’ time by engaging them in endless correspondence. “I figured if I could eat up a spammer’s time, they would have less time to perfect their new spamming technique”, explains the researcher.

Sp@m Looper operates very simply: if a bot is forwarded an email, it will start a new “conversation” with the spammer and begin asking it different questions. The spammer responds to the bot’s questions; the bot continues answering, and so on ad infinitum. Weinreich created an impressive list of common questions with the help of which Sp@m Looper can theoretically support conversation incessantly. For example, “Very interesting… are you offering this for free? What is the pricing?” or “Wow! This sounds like an awesome opportunity. Can you tell me a little more about it?”

Strangely enough, this works. On average, spammers have a minimum of 4-5 email exchanges with Sp@m Looper. Some of them converse with Sp@m Looper for weeks on end. As an example, the researcher published a 24-message conversation. Also, the bot can be unexpectedly useful. For example, it once negotiated a $50 discount.

Weinreich wrote that he found it so hilarious the spammers were engaging so seriously with addressee “John Turing” that he decided to take things further. The developer added a “Hipster mode” to the bot that generated random hipster words at the end of each email conversation. Some people just ignored the bot’s strange behaviour, but some began to question it. Weinreich published the conversation mentioned above here.

The result was predictable: the more Sp@m Looper communicated with the spammers, the more the spammers wrote to it, sometimes even initiating the conversations.

In connection with the above, Doctor Web presents a business idea — if the chatterbox-bot can chat till spammers drop, an experienced gypsy (whose manipulative skills are well known) can take things a step further. If a bot capable of using Gypsy techniques were to be created, would spammers give back all the money they’ve taken, drop their criminal ideas, and head to a monastery?

#spam #anti-spam #security

The Anti-virus Times recommends

Never answer emails from spammers, and don’t enter into correspondence with them. Once you’ve answered one of their emails, you’ve confirmed that your mailbox exists. As a result, the inflow of spam will only increase.


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