Romney Wins 'Most Mentioned Politician' Status in Spam
On this President's Day, it's only fitting to recognize the presidential candidate that's most likely to end up in your spam folder. According to analysis from internet security firm BitDefender, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney was mentioned in 45 percent of spam messages that referenced US politics. Newt Gingrich was mentioned 33 percent of the time, with Ron Paul taking 12.18%
"This is done to make users pay attention," said Catalin Cosoi, chief security researcher with BitDefender. "It's to confuse anti-spam filters and to make the emails look more legitimate."
BitDefender analyzed 8 million spam messages in the month of January, the number of spam messages that referenced US politics. Although, 8 million is a lot, Cosoi that a total of 10 million spam messages are sent every day. Only 0.24 percent of spam messages actually mention US politicians at all.
"If you've seen spam before, then you'll recognize it," Cosoi said. "They're really sloppy and not pleasant to the reader."
The presidential candidates aren't in any way affiliated with the spam messages, as Cosoi said that quotes are extracted from news media and inserted in order to get attention or to appear more legitimate. Romney's name was most often used in spam messages that advertised low-interest loans or free credit scores, while Gingrich was mentioned in messages promoting energy saving devices that didn't even exist. Most of these offerings actually redirect the user to survey site scams or knockoff drugs for sexual dysfunctions.
"The spam is sent by bots," Cosoi said. "It's all done automatically."
Cosoi suggested that the best way to prevent spam is to utilize an anti-spam solution. Most email providers have some sort solution in place, although providers like BitDefender do offer more robust capabilities. Cosoi also warned that spammers are now moving to social media, spreading malicious links and creating infectious apps.
"Email spam is not dead, but is expanding to other communication platforms," he said. "Change your privacy settings in order to avoid receiving these links."