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Security Response

Name your poison

Created: 18 Sep 2006 07:00:00 GMT • Updated: 23 Jan 2014 18:56:59 GMT
Kelly Conley's picture
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Diet pills? Ambien? HGH? If any of these are up your alley, you were in luck this past month. Online pharmacy spam represented a significant number of spam attacks that were seen by the Symantec Brightmail antispam probe network. In fact, this spam type was one of the top categories of spam sent out in August and has been around for a long, long time. The Internet is a gold mine of “cheap prescription drugs” that “don’t require a prescription!”

How can you recognize this spam type? For starters, it is often text-based and includes a “non-clickable” URL. A non-clickable URL requires a person to copy and paste the URL into a browser window to navigate to the Web site. You may wonder “Who would manually copy and paste these URLs into a Web browser?”, but someone must. In fact, many people must do this because it is a popular component to the success of online pharmacy spam. Spammers wouldn’t do it if end users weren’t so gullible and it didn’t work as well as it does.

The URLs used in the pharmacy spam are often garbled and carry a short life expectancy. For the spammer, it’s a game to keep one step ahead of the spam filters that will invariably be set in place. For the antispam technician, it’s a game of detection and elimination. While we do our best to protect you from these annoying emails, you can protect yourself by setting up custom filters. And whatever you do, please don’t copy and paste that URL into your browser. Unless, of course, you’re after that poison.