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Author Topic: Targeted spam  (Read 1610 times)
« on: October 25, 2011, 08:48:09 pm »

'I think almost everybody is aware these days that major companies or websites like Google, Facebook, and Amazon are creating profiles of their costumers in order to show targeted adds. I don't know if that's a bad thing, for example if someone sends you a wish list you can just pick up the item from the advertisements next to the list.

Another way of advertisement is sending/posting plain spam, and since I removed the recaptcha and changed to commitcontrol on my weblog I get to see all spam messages that are posted, besides that I also check my filtered emails so I know what I'm spammed about. The email, and now the spam comments made me wonder, is there something like targeted spam?

Back in the days I got bombarded with email about a certain kind of pills, the occasional hot chick who wanted to date, software offers, nigerian spam and stuff like that. Nowadays these messages are, I think, only a minor part of the daily spam and I receive a lot of job offers instead. I think this started when I was looking for a job and hence visited some vacancy sites. Maybe it's related or maybe it's the general economy gone bad and many people receive these messages nowadays.

However, for my holiday I had to buy some stuff so I visited the website of a local store and some brands quite frequently. Now I get offers for these type of goods into the comments on this website. And this stuff is totally unrelated to the topics I post about here (as is most spam).

Coincidence or not, it does make you wonder: can spammers know what you like and which sites you visited?. I think there are a couple of methods to find out this information: 1) just buy profiles with email addresses, 2) build a malicious site that checks for cookies of other websites (this shouldn't be possible normally), 3) build a malicious site that reads the browser history (this was possible through a bug, it might be fixed now) 4) use google to find whatever information is known on blogs, facebook, forums etc.

Regarding the spam I receive I think methods 1-3 are most likely, although 4 is quite well possible. There is only one way to test this though and that is to feed (false) information into the system. So starting with the fourth method: I've already got a fine job, so please stop spamming offers.'
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