Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Automatic Email Harvesting 2.0

Just when you think that email harvesting matured into user names harvesting in a true Web 2.0 style with the recently uncovered harvested IM screen names, and Youtube user lists for spammers, phishers and malware authors to take advantage of, someone has filled in the gap that's been around as long as email harvesting has been a daily routine for spammers - dealing with text obfuscations which still remain highly popular online, once it became evident that spammers are in fact crawling for default mailto lines. This email harvesting module can be run a separate script, or get integrated as a module within any botnet, is capable of harvesting the following text obfuscations often used in order to prevent spamming crawlers :

mail [space]mail [space]com
mail AT mail DOT com

The overall availability and easy of obtaining a huge percentage of valid email addresses within an organizaton, is not just resulting in the increasing segmentation and localization of spam, phishing and malware campaigns, it's increasing the profit margins for the spamming providers which is now not just offering verified to be 100% valid email addresses, but also, can providing the foundations for spear phishing and targeted attacks.

Quality assurance in spamming is still in its introduction phrase, with customers starting to put the emphasis on the number of emails that actually made it through the spam filters, than the number of emails sent as a benchmark for increasing the probability of bypassing anti spam filters. Taking into consideration the big picture, sniffing for email addresses streaming out of malware infected hosts, and stealing huge email databases by exploiting vulnerable online communities, seems to be the tactics of choice for the majority of individuals whose responsibility is to continuously provide fresh and valid email addresses.