Inside the Spam Cartel

Paladion
By Paladion

September 15, 2005

This is a fascinating book on the workings of the spam industry. Written by an insider, it provides excellent information on how spammers create spam, bypass spam filters and get their spam mails read.

Inside the Spam Cartel"Inside the Spam Cartel" is a fascinating book on the workings of the spam
industry. The author is a successful spammer and chooses to remain unidentified.
It is quite likely, however, that several writers contributed to the writing
of the book: the language and outlook varies from chapter to chapter.

The book covers a wide range of topics from the motives of spam, to its economics,
to the techniques and tools used by spammers. Going beyond the statistics and
the anecdotes, it presents the technical details behind successful spam mails.

The core of the book discusses how spam filters work and the evasion tactics
spammers use to beat them. For instance, after introducing the early hash-based
spam detection filters and the methods to evade them, the book explains how
today's advanced hash-detection filters like Razor work:
Razor calculates hashes after removing random mutations the spammer might have
introduced in the subject or body of the mail.

The power of Bayesian filters and Bayesian Noise Reduction (BNR) techniques
used in software like Dspam are
explained well; and it is duly followed by a section on advanced techniques
that attempt to beat BNR. Similarly the authors show how anti-spam solutions
like Sender Policy Framework (SPF) are being subverted by spammers to improve
their ability to bypass filters.

The book is unfortunately littered with typos that make it difficult to read.
Several Amazon reviewers have
also pointed out factual errors that detract from the merit of the book. It
is clearly the fascinating details that overcome these flaws and encourages
the reader to go forward.

The book is good reading for information security managers, mail administrators
and the general reader who wishes to learn how spam works.


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