Application security

Spammers evade filters with Russian novel

A new spam campaign using text from a classic Russian novel to evade anti-spam software has been uncovered by security experts.

The unsolicited email messages contain sections of Mikhail Bulgakov's book "The Master and Margarita," considered to be one of the greatest Russian novels of the 20th Century. But they actually contain embedded graphics promoting websites that sell goods to enhance sexual performance.

In the case of this campaign, the spammers are not even including a clickable link to their website, but rather asking prospective purchasers to type it in by hand to evade detection by less sophisticated email filters.

"Whether or not Mikhail Bulgakov anticipated the level of success that his novel would eventually meet with is uncertain, but it's a safe bet that he didn't anticipate it being used to flog sexual enhancement drugs," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "People are bored to the back teeth with junk email, and should ensure the goods peddled by the spammers do not become bestsellers by never purchasing items marketed in this way."

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