Google: Are spammers running out of new ideas?

With its latest report suggesting the resurgence of old-style spam attacks, Google has raised the possibility that spammers could be running out of original ideas.

The second quarter of 2009 saw a substantial 53 per cent increase in average spam levels from the first quarter. However, Google said in a blog post that many of the new attacks were simple rehashes of attacks that occurred in the past.

"Like Hollywood, are we now starting to see spam remakes', based on originals of a few years ago?" asked Amanda Kleha, of the Google message security and archiving team.

For example, on 18 June, Google saw a new attack that released 50 per cent of a day's spam volume in two hours. Yet Google said it used a simple newsletter' with malicious links and images inserted in the content, which Kleha said was "old school by today's spam standard".

Kleha also said Google had seen another retro' technique reborn in a sudden wave of image spam, which most anti-spam filters have learned to block.

She suggested that it was designed to test the defences of the different spam filters, so that spammers could analyse what subject lines and content had the highest probability of success.

She added: "Another is that there may some new players entering the spam game, following the McColo and 3FN takedowns, and these new players are opening with well-tested techniques."