Trouble in paradise -- McAfee warns of island hopping spam

Trouble in paradise -- McAfee warns of island hopping spam

Summary: McAfee anti-spam researchers have been tracking a trend they've nicknamed "spam island-hopping."According to McAfee, Island-hopping spammers use the domain names of small islands as Web site links in spam campaigns.

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TOPICS: Security
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McAfee anti-spam researchers have been tracking a trend they've nicknamed "spam island-hopping."

According to McAfee, Island-hopping spammers use the domain names of small islands as Web site links in spam campaigns. McAfee has traced spam activity from the Isle of Man and the tropical island of Tokelau, amongst others.

Traditionally, spammers have used well known top level domains (TLDs) such as .com, .biz or .info. By using top level domains from small island countries, spammers attempt to avoid detection by using domains previously unknown to spam filters.

Using a lesser-known top level domain makes it harder to distinguish spam from legitimate e-mail by examining the links in the e-mails, according to McAfee.

The trend was discovered when McAfee researchers noticed a significant increase in the use of .st domains, the top level domain for Sao Tome and Principe, an island off the west coast of Africa.

Spam using top level domains from small islands continues to increase, according to McAfee.

"This new trend is another example of spammers' relentless quest to spread their abuse of Internet domains far and wide," said Guy Roberts, senior development manager for McAfee Anti-Spam Research and Development Team. "Some of these islands have dozens of spammed domains per square mile."

McAfee has identified the following small islands as being favoured by spammers: Tokelau, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Tuvalu, American Samoa, Isle of Man, Tonga, and Sao Tome and Principe. These islands appear in order of land area. Spot the odd one out.

Topic: Security

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com. He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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