Really Clever ASCII Spam

I use Gmail, which has an awesome spam filter, so I very rarely end up with real spam in my inbox. Spammers, of course, are always trying to come up with ways around spam filters, and today I ended up with what has to be the most clever spam I’ve ever seen. The subject was “Order:157-0585-035,” and even though I knew it was spam based on that and what I saw in the snippet that Gmail shows you, I opened it anyway, just out of curiosity. Here’s what I saw when I opened it

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

That looks pretty much like any other spam, right? But it isn’t. It’s actually ASCII art. In other words, the text of the email is only “readable” because of the patterns in the text. Here’s another screenshot, but this time the text is magnified to show you what it really looks like

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Interesting, eh? Since this one is nothing but whitespace and numbers, a spam filter could actually filter this one out pretty easily, once it knew what to look for. If the spammers start interspersing letters with the numbers, it will get harder to spot. And if they can get whole words in there, too, it will be harder still. I hate spam as much as anyone, but I have to actually give these guys credit for trying.

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