E-mail filters not fooled by signed spam

Bulk e-mailers are digitally signing unsolicited messages in hopes of bypassing popular filtering programs, but updated software has been modified to detect the trick, experts said this week.

The trick was noted on several security lists, as the number of junk e-mail messages sporting digital signatures has apparently increased. Digital signatures are used in e-mail to attest to the validity and integrity of an e-mail message; any changes to the message's text break the signature and can thus be detected.

The new spam tactic was likely introduced to fool a popular open-source e-mail filtering program known as SpamAssassin, said Rand Wacker, director of product strategy and planning for e-mail software maker Sendmail. Wacker said the openness of the program's development allows spammers to develop tricks to fool the software.

"Since SpamAssassin is built in a very transparent way in how it does its filtering, we see a lot of spam that is directly targeted at getting past SpamAssassin," Wacker said. Sendmail's own spam program, Mailstream, wouldn't be fooled by the technique because it doesn't give better scores to signed e-mail messages. Filters frequently use a scoring system to evaluate whether a particular message is spam or legitimate.

News source: C|net

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