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Spammers have added a fresh dimension to the fight against junk mail with the creation of image spam rendered in a pseudo 3D layout.

The use of images as opposed to simple junk messages as a way to punt penis pills, refinancing offers and the like has being going on for months. The approach is designed to fool basic spam filters and is, these days, seldom effective. In order to have any hope of success, spammers must use the computing power of compromised machines to create a uniquely modified image in each spam email. Failure to do this would enable spam filters to discard known spam images.

Spammers have now extended this approach by using images that have been modified by adding colours, changing fonts and inserting random dots and lines so that they appear to be in "three dimensions". The effect is even less convincing than squinting at Jaws 3D through a pair of coloured glasses. It's also even more nauseating.

Net security firm F-Secure has noticed an upsurge in the 3D spam tactic over the past few days. "Generating images like this is, of course, more computing intensive but spammers have lots of computing power at their disposal via the huge botnets they are running. It's not like they couldn't afford to render unique 3D spam for every recipient," F-Secure notes.

The appearance of 3D junk mail is part of the ongoing arms race between spammers - anxious to slip their tiresome messages past junk mail filters - and security firms.

Following on from the now established tactic of sending junk mail messages in the images of emails or in PDF attachments, users now have to contend with spam messages in the FDF (Forms Data Format) and now three dimensional junk mail come-ons. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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