Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Perhaps OCRing image spams really is working?

I've previously been skeptical of the idea that OCRing image spams was a worthwhile effort because of the variety of image-obfuscation techniques that spammers had taken to using.

But Nick FitzGerald has recently sent me an example of an image spam that seems to indicate that spammers are concerned about the effectiveness of OCR. Here's the image:

What's striking is that the spammer has used the same content-obscuring tricks that we've seen with text (e.g. Viagra has become [email protected]@), perhaps out of fear that the OCRing of images is working and revealing the text within the images.

Or perhaps this spammer is just really paranoid.



Blogger Bruce said...

How about the possibility that paying customers of these products are just used to those obfuscated spellings? Sales may drop when they are rendered correctly spelled because the intended targets don't recognize 'em!

12:08 PM  
Blogger John Graham-Cumming said...


It's funny, I thought exactly the same thing and then didn't put it in the blog post because I was sure I'd get the humor right.

Perhaps there really is a target market that only buys [email protected] and not Viagra.


12:13 PM  
Blogger kurt wismer said...

perhaps there's an image spam engine out there and some lazy spammer just pulled the content out of an existing conventional spam campaign and fed it into the engine without de-obfuscating it first...

lord knows cut-n-paste has resulted in all sorts of strange things in all sorts of areas...

5:24 PM  

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