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Security Response: Spammers pay tribute to Paul Walker using 'Word Salad'

Paul Walker

The Word Salad, a workaround method invented by spammers to counter Bayesian spam filtering, is an old trick in the spammer’s manual, but cutting edge anti-spam filtering technology has made this ploy blunt. More details after the jump.

As a form of Bayesian poisoning, Word Salad is an incongruous string of words. It uses words that are very legitimate and can be seen in any form of legit prose. The demise of Paul Walker, the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise star, in a fiery car accident on Saturday, is the latest example exploited by spammers. Within hours of this breaking news, Symantec observed snowshoe spam or hit-and-run attacks, using "PAUL WALKER" in Word Salad.

Paul Walker Word Salad
Figure 1: An email body with the keyword "PAUL WALKER" using word salad

The spam in discussion had no relevant ties to any news on Paul Walker, except for the Word Salad. The preview is that of a TV/Phone/Internet promo spam which has the headers below:

Subject: Cheap Cable-TV, Internet & Phone – Free Equipment, Premium Channels & Install
From: ~CABLETVSpecialS* <[name]@[domain].com>

Paul Walker Spam
Figure 2: A preview of the spam

As we remember Paul Walker, we should also be reminded this is another example of how spammers don’t hesitate to manipulate various incidents in their bid to promote spam.

More information can be found in this blog posting: bit.ly/1bqVVu4.

Source: Symantec

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