Have you noticed a creeping rise in Image Spam flooding your Inbox?
Image Spam is the newest wave of Spam where the Spammers send you a text image selling sex pills and penis extenders and such that looks like text but the Spam is really an image file pretending to be typed text. Sometimes some innocuous real text is included with the image to trick Spam filters that may be looking for small image-only emails. 


There is no anti-Spam method available today that can reliably filter
Image Spam for you because it would require a system that can not only
open every email message to “view” the image file, but also some kind
of intelligent “eye” and “mind” that would read and interpret the
image to determine if it is Spam advertising pills to help your baby
build a big booty or if it is an image of your grandmother knitting
baby booties.
As much as I hate Image Spam, I have to admire the genius of the evil
mind that created such a slick workaround to thwart current Spam
filtering methods.

Russian Spam used to be the bane of my existence but
now I am drowning in text advertising images for Breast Boosters and
Sex Kittens. There’s nothing we can do about Image Spam except one
draconian step: Accept email only from a Whitelist. If you’re in
business or if you need to be contacted by people you do not yet know
the Whitelist solution is no solution at all.
Do you know why Image Spam is creeping into great success?

There are
people who receive the Image Spam AND THEN TYPE IN THE WEBSITE ADDRESS FROM THE IMAGE INTO THEIR BROWSER
so they can visit the site! Why are those people so gullible? Curiosity
killed the inbox!
If the Image Spam had a hotlink to the Spam site our Spam software
could read that text website address and block the message.

The fact
that enough people are dim enough to actually do the Spammer’s bidding
against us all by typing in the website address proves we not only need
a licensing system for blogging and raising children but for owning an
email account as well!

One irresponsible person who types in the
website address from Image Spam only encourages the Spammers to do it
again and in greater quantity to raise their success rate with fools —
and it isn’t a click-through rate they’re seeking, it’s now a “typing
from an image” rate that codes their success — and life for the rest
of us suffers even deeper pain as we are forced to look at unwanted
Image Spam pretending to be text messages. Are you seeing a creeping
rise in Image Spam in your inbox?

What is your Image Spam trying to sell you?
How much Image Spam are you getting now compared to a month ago?
What, if anything, are you doing to try to stop this new Image Spam
viral advertising campaign from reeking you out even further?

35 Comments

  1. I haven’t seen image spam yet, but I’ve noticed that my spam box has been getting slammed. The spam world was quiet for a while, but things seem to be picking up.
    I don’t even check my spam box anymore before dumping all of the junk email.
    I don’t worry about losing important messages because I have my spam filters set up to always allow messages from those on my whitelist and to only filter suspected spam.
    Sometimes, I wish I could put some of my whitelist people in the spam box when they send silly jokes that have been forwarded 9 million times.
    I’m sure that I’ll get some image spam sooner or later. It will be interesting to see if it gets past the spam filters.

  2. Hi Chris!
    I get lots of Spam. It’s a curse of being on the web for 10 years and not adequately protecting my email addresses from harvesting Spam bots. I get slammed all day every day. It’s the price paid for being a pioneer!
    😀
    I’m surprised you haven’t seen any Image Spam yet. I get lots of it IN MY INBOX on Yahoo! Mail Plus and I have my Spam filters there set to be as strict as possible.
    The Image Spam is made to look like text email — they “type” into a white background and then save the image file so it looks like a normal text message when it hits your Inbox. The image auto-loads in your browser/email client and there it is waiting for you to take the next step. It’s so smart! It’s so evil!
    You might be getting Image Spam without realizing you’re looking at a cunning image and not a block of HTML text.

  3. I have my own strict “organic” filter as well.
    I get so much email from my whitelist sources, in addition to “unknown” sources, that I often will delete messages sent to certain addresses without even reading them based on their subject line. If you send me an email with a subject line “Let’s chat, honey” or “Free vacation to Cancun!!!!” and I don’t recognize the email address, it’s history.
    I also keep my “official” work email address very private, so any messages received there are always important. We do the same thing at home with the phone — we have two phone lines — one was listed previously and one was never listed. If a call comes in on the never listed line, we know it’s someone we want to talk to, even without checking caller ID.
    I jumped into my spam box and saw that there are image spam messages in there. One was for a supplement designed to improve your love life. I bet I’ve deleted image spam without reading it based on the subject line.
    I have about 15 different folders and sort messages based on sender, email address, and topic.
    I have to admit that I have a filter for someone I know that collects all of his (or is it her?) forwarded stuff, jokes, etc., which I delete without even opening it. It’s not really spam in the commercial sense, but I don’t want to spend the time or effort to look at it.

  4. Chris —
    Ah! That’s good you delete based on subject title. If I remember correctly from other Spam discussions we’ve had, you also turn off the preview in Yahoo! Mail, right? That would also protect you from having the Image Spam auto-load.
    I like your method of protecting your work email address and your private home line. That’s precisely how to get around the true evildoers who wish to do us in with their unwanted advertising schemes.
    I’m sorry to hear you checked your account and found Image Spam – it’s going to get to be an even bigger problem once the subject lines and “From” lines become more innocuous and read-inducing.
    Harr! It’s funny in a sad way you needed to create a special filter to stop yourself from getting junk from someone you don’t want to entertain you. I think that’s probably a kinder way to handle it than to reply and say “remove me from this list.”
    😀

  5. Chris —
    Ah! That’s good you delete based on subject title. If I remember correctly from other Spam discussions we’ve had, you also turn off the preview in Yahoo! Mail, right? That would also protect you from having the Image Spam auto-load.
    I like your method of protecting your work email address and your private home line. That’s precisely how to get around the true evildoers who wish to do us in with their unwanted advertising schemes.
    I’m sorry to hear you checked your account and found Image Spam – it’s going to get to be an even bigger problem once the subject lines and “From” lines become more innocuous and read-inducing.
    Harr! It’s funny in a sad way you needed to create a special filter to stop yourself from getting junk from someone you don’t want to entertain you. I think that’s probably a kinder way to handle it than to reply and say “remove me from this list.”
    😀

  6. I would hate to tell her to stop sending the stuff, because I know it adds something to her day. I think surfing the web and forwarding jokes might be her past time since reaching retirement age. (I mentioned she should start a blog and put all of her collected wisdom and humor she collects from the net in it, but I think the word blog scared her).
    I don’t feel bad deleting her email because I see in the header that it is being sent to a lot of other people as well — probably every relative, friend, and acquaintance who is on the internet. I don’t think she has ever sent any personal message through email.
    She used to have an old email address of mine that I dumped a while back when I switched ISPs. When the messages started bouncing back, she made a personal effort to reach out to me and get a new email address. I felt bad for “forgetting” to tell her my new email address when I saw her.
    I gave her a “special” address — Yahoo allows you to do that — and I have it filtered into its own file to make the messages easier to delete.

  7. I would hate to tell her to stop sending the stuff, because I know it adds something to her day. I think surfing the web and forwarding jokes might be her past time since reaching retirement age. (I mentioned she should start a blog and put all of her collected wisdom and humor she collects from the net in it, but I think the word blog scared her).
    I don’t feel bad deleting her email because I see in the header that it is being sent to a lot of other people as well — probably every relative, friend, and acquaintance who is on the internet. I don’t think she has ever sent any personal message through email.
    She used to have an old email address of mine that I dumped a while back when I switched ISPs. When the messages started bouncing back, she made a personal effort to reach out to me and get a new email address. I felt bad for “forgetting” to tell her my new email address when I saw her.
    I gave her a “special” address — Yahoo allows you to do that — and I have it filtered into its own file to make the messages easier to delete.

  8. Chris —
    You are handling your personal Spammer with kindness and thoughtfulness and I believe you are correct that sending out that email makes her day and keeps her connected to the world. She isn’t making any money off the deal and she isn’t trying to scam you out of anything, either.
    I like the “toss away” email accounts Yahoo! gives you. That makes filtering mail much easier as you mention.
    Have you created a “personal address” yet with Yahoo!’s new dot scheme email address that comes before the “@” sign?
    Why do you think people respond to Spam? Are they lonely? Is Spam somehow self-affirming?
    Why do you think someone would TYPE OUT an Image Spam website into their web browser? What satisfaction do they get from the effort? Don’t these sites only suck them in to rip them off in the end?

  9. Chris —
    You are handling your personal Spammer with kindness and thoughtfulness and I believe you are correct that sending out that email makes her day and keeps her connected to the world. She isn’t making any money off the deal and she isn’t trying to scam you out of anything, either.
    I like the “toss away” email accounts Yahoo! gives you. That makes filtering mail much easier as you mention.
    Have you created a “personal address” yet with Yahoo!’s new dot scheme email address that comes before the “@” sign?
    Why do you think people respond to Spam? Are they lonely? Is Spam somehow self-affirming?
    Why do you think someone would TYPE OUT an Image Spam website into their web browser? What satisfaction do they get from the effort? Don’t these sites only suck them in to rip them off in the end?

  10. Personally, I do as much as I can to not have to look at spam, hence the spam filters are set as high as possible on all 3 of my email accounts. On my gmail account, I get a heck of a load of spam for a new credit card account, and from Walmart of all places. I don’t even open them, just empty my spam folder and have done with it. If for some reason I get an email in my inbox and I don’t recognise who it’s from it gets deleted. Simple as.
    Spam used to annoy the heck out of me, but I’ve kinda gotten used to it now, as sad as that sounds lol. It gives me pleasure the delete them, because I know this is one sucker they ain’t gonna drag into their nest.

  11. Personally, I do as much as I can to not have to look at spam, hence the spam filters are set as high as possible on all 3 of my email accounts. On my gmail account, I get a heck of a load of spam for a new credit card account, and from Walmart of all places. I don’t even open them, just empty my spam folder and have done with it. If for some reason I get an email in my inbox and I don’t recognise who it’s from it gets deleted. Simple as.
    Spam used to annoy the heck out of me, but I’ve kinda gotten used to it now, as sad as that sounds lol. It gives me pleasure the delete them, because I know this is one sucker they ain’t gonna drag into their nest.

  12. Hi Dawn!
    Yes, Spam is with us now and forever, I fear. In the early days of the web I would go to the Spam sites to “unsubscribe” from their lists as a proactive act to get rid of the Spam but, as we all now know, that only verifies you as an active email address and guarantees you more Spam.
    It’s a hard human task to “do nothing” in order to try to get something to go away.
    I, too, have all sorts of filters and I also get great joy in deleting Spam messages in their virgin unread state.
    I know we get Spam because Spam works, but I cannot figure out why Spam works for people. It baffles me.

  13. Hi Dawn!
    Yes, Spam is with us now and forever, I fear. In the early days of the web I would go to the Spam sites to “unsubscribe” from their lists as a proactive act to get rid of the Spam but, as we all now know, that only verifies you as an active email address and guarantees you more Spam.
    It’s a hard human task to “do nothing” in order to try to get something to go away.
    I, too, have all sorts of filters and I also get great joy in deleting Spam messages in their virgin unread state.
    I know we get Spam because Spam works, but I cannot figure out why Spam works for people. It baffles me.

  14. Hi Simmering!
    Yeah, I don’t understand why it gets sent — especially when you look at the message headers and you see it’s all forged along the way. Why bother sending Spam that won’t give you a reliable path back to confirm the veracity of the offer?

  15. Hi Simmering!
    Yeah, I don’t understand why it gets sent — especially when you look at the message headers and you see it’s all forged along the way. Why bother sending Spam that won’t give you a reliable path back to confirm the veracity of the offer?

  16. Hi David,
    I do have a Yahoo personal address, and a domain name through them, and several “throw-away” email addresses. I have several other domain names w/email (and/or forwarding) through other services.
    I also have an alumni email forwarding address from my undergraduate institution, so it’s nice to have a .edu address to throw in the mix. It’s a classier email address in many ways, because it’s an .edu address. I don’t give it out, so anything that comes through on that one is usually news or fundraising requests from the alumni association.
    While a lot of people have been online since the late ’80s — I remember logging into a VAX system when I was a freshman — there are always new bunches of people just starting their online experience.
    I suspect spammers get most of their business from people who don’t know any better. There are always millions of brand new people going online who haven’t been properly educated to ignore spam.
    Also, I bet a lot of young people are lured in by the porn and “enlargment” supplement ads they receive in their in-boxes.
    I’d never buy anything from a spam email.

  17. Hi David,
    I do have a Yahoo personal address, and a domain name through them, and several “throw-away” email addresses. I have several other domain names w/email (and/or forwarding) through other services.
    I also have an alumni email forwarding address from my undergraduate institution, so it’s nice to have a .edu address to throw in the mix. It’s a classier email address in many ways, because it’s an .edu address. I don’t give it out, so anything that comes through on that one is usually news or fundraising requests from the alumni association.
    While a lot of people have been online since the late ’80s — I remember logging into a VAX system when I was a freshman — there are always new bunches of people just starting their online experience.
    I suspect spammers get most of their business from people who don’t know any better. There are always millions of brand new people going online who haven’t been properly educated to ignore spam.
    Also, I bet a lot of young people are lured in by the porn and “enlargment” supplement ads they receive in their in-boxes.
    I’d never buy anything from a spam email.

  18. Hey Chris!
    Sounds like you have a good setup! I love having the “dot” email address with Yahoo! Mail. I, too, used to have my websites hosted with them. They did a fine job back then. I outgrew their plans, tough. Now their plans are upgraded and, once again, incredibly robust and utterly tempting. They now offer WordPress as a bundled blogging program.
    Hey! I, too, filter my UNL and Columbia alumni accounts to Yahoo! It works well. Unfortunately, my UNL email address gets slammed really hard through dictionary scams — I’ve never once given out that email address to anyone — but it gets tons of junk mail.
    I guess you’re probably right that innocent mistakes help support the Spam industry and young men are always looking for that extra inch of an edge and that helps fill the coffers as well.
    I’d never buy from Spam and I don’t know anyone who ever has!

  19. Hey Chris!
    Sounds like you have a good setup! I love having the “dot” email address with Yahoo! Mail. I, too, used to have my websites hosted with them. They did a fine job back then. I outgrew their plans, tough. Now their plans are upgraded and, once again, incredibly robust and utterly tempting. They now offer WordPress as a bundled blogging program.
    Hey! I, too, filter my UNL and Columbia alumni accounts to Yahoo! It works well. Unfortunately, my UNL email address gets slammed really hard through dictionary scams — I’ve never once given out that email address to anyone — but it gets tons of junk mail.
    I guess you’re probably right that innocent mistakes help support the Spam industry and young men are always looking for that extra inch of an edge and that helps fill the coffers as well.
    I’d never buy from Spam and I don’t know anyone who ever has!

  20. It’s hard to know why Spam gets sent to people who don’t want it. I thought the idea of business was to build warm relationships with people not turn them off with these cold calls that nobody wants. We’ll have to pass some laws or get verified senders or something to block all that junk mail that lands on us. What comes after the Image Spam? The embedded audio Spam?

  21. It’s hard to know why Spam gets sent to people who don’t want it. I thought the idea of business was to build warm relationships with people not turn them off with these cold calls that nobody wants. We’ll have to pass some laws or get verified senders or something to block all that junk mail that lands on us. What comes after the Image Spam? The embedded audio Spam?

  22. Was it me, or was there an anti-commercialism bent to the Internet in the late ’80s and early ’90s before Mosaic came out and revolutionized the Internet? It was against the early netiquette to engage in any commercial activity online, especially in newsgroups.
    Spamming in the old days would have risked the wrath of a small community.
    I remember there being a huge controversy about a posting by an immigration attorney hoping to attract clients in the early ’90s.
    I wonder if that was one of the first cases of spamming?

  23. Was it me, or was there an anti-commercialism bent to the Internet in the late ’80s and early ’90s before Mosaic came out and revolutionized the Internet? It was against the early netiquette to engage in any commercial activity online, especially in newsgroups.
    Spamming in the old days would have risked the wrath of a small community.
    I remember there being a huge controversy about a posting by an immigration attorney hoping to attract clients in the early ’90s.
    I wonder if that was one of the first cases of spamming?

  24. Chris —
    With any new technology or community there is always a grace and an elegance that goes along with the pioneer spirit as the founders try to create a strong and welcoming interaction.
    There are strict rules of behavior and banishment from the group and that threat is a powerful and verifiable punishment for not blending in with the goodness of your peers.
    Early radio was that was as was early television. Acting was a small and graceful community in the early life of Hollywood.
    As each technology and community grows in popularity and the founders are overtaken by the newbies and then by the general public, the entire experience becomes cheapened and the masses fill the niche spaces and the niches become the mainstream.
    I agree Spamming would have meant immediate punishment back in the good old days.
    There are still people who knock others for posting newsgroup messages in HTML because it wastes bandwidth — I always find those angry complains quaint and old-fashioned in a cranky good way.

  25. Chris —
    With any new technology or community there is always a grace and an elegance that goes along with the pioneer spirit as the founders try to create a strong and welcoming interaction.
    There are strict rules of behavior and banishment from the group and that threat is a powerful and verifiable punishment for not blending in with the goodness of your peers.
    Early radio was that was as was early television. Acting was a small and graceful community in the early life of Hollywood.
    As each technology and community grows in popularity and the founders are overtaken by the newbies and then by the general public, the entire experience becomes cheapened and the masses fill the niche spaces and the niches become the mainstream.
    I agree Spamming would have meant immediate punishment back in the good old days.
    There are still people who knock others for posting newsgroup messages in HTML because it wastes bandwidth — I always find those angry complains quaint and old-fashioned in a cranky good way.

  26. People are suckers or at least curious. There are many bored people out there who will take just about any excuse to wind out the monotony of their job by mindlessly surfing the web. The urge to follow-up SPAM is also fed by a strange blind-consumerism bent that many people seem to habor, they will look into almost any opportunity to buy something if they think it will improve their life or at least provide a modicum of entertainment value. Daytime TV is filled with many of the same offers and ridiculous procucts/services that are pushed via spam (save for the penis products of course 🙂 !). There are unfortunately droves of people who use materialism to fill a void in their lives. They are searching in things for something that they can’t find in life.
    Gmail doesn’t open images in emails by default. I haven’t seen any of image spam. I forward all of my e-mail addresses to my gmail account. I receive hundreds of SPAM messages per week, of those two to three see the light of my inbox. I briefly scan the spam-box for anything important before I trash the whole thing. Computer visiion is advancing to the point that someone should be able to come up with algorithms to combat image spam. A quick fix would be only allow text or RTF formatted messages, I assume that the image spam is all HTML based. How many people actually send HTML messages, there is rarely a need for that much formatting.

  27. People are suckers or at least curious. There are many bored people out there who will take just about any excuse to wind out the monotony of their job by mindlessly surfing the web. The urge to follow-up SPAM is also fed by a strange blind-consumerism bent that many people seem to habor, they will look into almost any opportunity to buy something if they think it will improve their life or at least provide a modicum of entertainment value. Daytime TV is filled with many of the same offers and ridiculous procucts/services that are pushed via spam (save for the penis products of course 🙂 !). There are unfortunately droves of people who use materialism to fill a void in their lives. They are searching in things for something that they can’t find in life.
    Gmail doesn’t open images in emails by default. I haven’t seen any of image spam. I forward all of my e-mail addresses to my gmail account. I receive hundreds of SPAM messages per week, of those two to three see the light of my inbox. I briefly scan the spam-box for anything important before I trash the whole thing. Computer visiion is advancing to the point that someone should be able to come up with algorithms to combat image spam. A quick fix would be only allow text or RTF formatted messages, I assume that the image spam is all HTML based. How many people actually send HTML messages, there is rarely a need for that much formatting.

  28. Speaking of sound based advertising, I have come across a couple magazines that had horrible audio ads that were activatyed by turning a page to the ad. In both instances I immediately ripped out the ad and stomped on the thing to silence the horrible sound that emanated from the low-qaulity speaker. I hope this doesn’t become a more widespread trend, its rather offensive.

  29. Speaking of sound based advertising, I have come across a couple magazines that had horrible audio ads that were activatyed by turning a page to the ad. In both instances I immediately ripped out the ad and stomped on the thing to silence the horrible sound that emanated from the low-qaulity speaker. I hope this doesn’t become a more widespread trend, its rather offensive.

  30. Hi Jonathan!
    Your take on human curiosity is engaging and persuasive. It’s an interesting thought that Spam may serve as some kind of numbing entertainment for a bored mind. I had no idea materialism could so fully pretend to fill up a person but I think you are right.
    You are smart to use Gmail to process your mail. That makes a lot of sense. Most of the Spam I’m seeing today has been converted to Image Spam.
    HTML with pictures and doodads is the latest craze in email and it is popular – I prefer pretty mail to plain text. The better companies can send both plain text and fully formatted pretty email in one message so you can force out the Spam images if you must as you suggest.
    You are so right about the sound in magazines! Last summer I was reading a magazine and a blaring voice erupted in my office… I tried to figure out the source of the sound. I turned off the TV and the computer and the radio and I checked outside and I finally realized MY MAGAZINE WAS YELLING AT ME! I think it was an advert for “My Name is Earl.” I first ripped open the ad to see how ingenious its construction was with the speaker and the wires and the battery and then, like you I destroyed it to the best of my ability by ripping and tearing it all apart.
    You can request magazine subscriptions without perfume inserts if you are allergic or sensitive to smells — those of us with tender ears should have the same opt-out option from the likes of Earl!
    😀

  31. Hi Jonathan!
    Your take on human curiosity is engaging and persuasive. It’s an interesting thought that Spam may serve as some kind of numbing entertainment for a bored mind. I had no idea materialism could so fully pretend to fill up a person but I think you are right.
    You are smart to use Gmail to process your mail. That makes a lot of sense. Most of the Spam I’m seeing today has been converted to Image Spam.
    HTML with pictures and doodads is the latest craze in email and it is popular – I prefer pretty mail to plain text. The better companies can send both plain text and fully formatted pretty email in one message so you can force out the Spam images if you must as you suggest.
    You are so right about the sound in magazines! Last summer I was reading a magazine and a blaring voice erupted in my office… I tried to figure out the source of the sound. I turned off the TV and the computer and the radio and I checked outside and I finally realized MY MAGAZINE WAS YELLING AT ME! I think it was an advert for “My Name is Earl.” I first ripped open the ad to see how ingenious its construction was with the speaker and the wires and the battery and then, like you I destroyed it to the best of my ability by ripping and tearing it all apart.
    You can request magazine subscriptions without perfume inserts if you are allergic or sensitive to smells — those of us with tender ears should have the same opt-out option from the likes of Earl!
    😀