“Ze Foreign Accent” spam is back

Twelve years ago the IT security world was fighting against an unprecedented amount of spam emails. Spam is not and never was just a nuisance; it is a big problem because it slows down the good emails and takes up resources. Together with Virus Bulletin and some antispam researchers from various companies, a list called “The Spammer Compendium” was created.  This list contains methods used by spammers to trick spam filters and to have their emails delivered to the end users.

One of the methods listed there is called “Ze Foreign Accent” spam or(BWO!Accent!Plain).

The main characteristic of this method is the usage of special characters called “accents”. They make no sense in English, but they exist in other languages like French, German, Romanian, and others.

"Ze Foreign Accent" spam: This is not a dating offer!

We haven’t seen this kind of spam in the wild for many years now because it was very easy to detect (due to the heavy usage of special characters). So you can imagine our surprise to see this technique pop up again in a spam message.

What makes “Ze Foreign Accent” spam so special?

This spam is special because it combines various methods described in “The Spammer Compendium”:

"Ze Foreign Accent" spam: A spam negative
The first two techniques are immediately visible once the body of the email is selected (see picture).

Additionally, the spam is addressing the recipient of the email by full name taken from the “From” field. The subject of the email is “Re: Mrs. Amalee Crigger LIKED <full name> and left a new MESSAGE for <full name>”. This is easy to implement, of course, but it requires more information and CPU power in order to create the dedicated message.

What should you do?

We said it back then, we keep saying it now: never click on links in spam messages. You never know what hides behind that URL: malware, phishing, identity theft, scams, etc.

If your spam filter didn’t catch the spam and you see something that looks rather strange, just like “Ze Foreign Accent” spam, erase it.

© Copyright 2015 Sorin Mustaca, All rights Reserved. Written For: Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity

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About the Author

Sorin Mustaca
Sorin Mustaca, (ISC)2 CSSLP, CompTIA Security+ and Project+, is working since year 2000 in the IT Security industry and worked between 2003-2014 for Avira as Product Manager for the known products used by over 100 million users world-wide. Today he is an independent IT Security Consultant focusing on Cybersecurity, secure software development and security for IoT and Automotive. He is also running his personal blog Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity and is the author of the free eBook Improve your security .

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