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31 Oct 2014

Different kinds of spam Email

Someone was asking who has the largest set of spamtraps; I opined that nobody knows, since the people will the biggest ones don't discuss the details. Also, it's not a very useful metric. There are spammers who only send to specific large ISPS, so, say, Google would know all about them, and other people wouldn't see them at all.

Also, different kinds of spamtraps get different kinds of spam. I have three general kinds:

  • Addresses that were never valid, typically invented by broken scrapeware that grabbed message IDs or mangled addresses from web sites
  • Abandoned addresses and domains, that may have been valid a decade or more ago, but only get spam now
  • A depressingly large number of addresses given to well-known companies who then leaked them to spammers.

I also get a fair amount to real addresses that aren't spamtraps, but that are caught by filters or by hand.

I haven't analyzed the spam profiles in detail but they're clearly different. For example, one ESP doesn't appear on most people's spam radar, but they send me a great deal of spam (relative to my overall modest volume.) That appears to be because they have a lot of poor quality lists with repurposed addresses, from senders booted from more selective ESPs, and they're constantly hitting role addresses that aren't spamtraps, but should never be on anyone's lists.


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