Lynnfield, MA - Sophos, global leader in network security,
releases a report identifying the words that spammers most commonly
include in their marketing messages but attempt to hide from
anti-spam software. Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network
of virus and spam analysis centers, reveal that two of the top
three most commonly used words are healthcare drugs, Cialis and
Today, the vast majority of spammers use tricks in an effort to
disguise words within their email messages to avoid getting blocked
by anti-spam software at the email gateway.
"Spammers have a dilemma, they want to sell certain products or
include certain phrases in their spam emails, but they also know
that many people will have filters looking for those words,"
Mastoras, senior analyst at Sophos. "Of the top 25 words on the
list, 40% are pharmaceutical related words including Cialis, which
is the top word spammers try to disguise. Every day words like
shipping and online make up 48% of the top 25 while sexually
explicit words make up approximately 14% of the top 50 words on the
According to John Graham-Cumming, spam expert and author of the
mail classification tool POPFile, 80% of spam incorporates trickery
or obfuscation. These tricks can be as simple as deliberately
misspelling a word, or using a zero instead of the letter "o" to
much more sophisticated techniques that exploit the power of HTML
In an effort to determine which words are being most obfuscated,
experts at SophosLabs, analyzed words based on the frequency level
in which they were used in spam email to determine which words have
been most obfuscated. SophosLabs estimates that more than 30% of
spam it received contained URLs relating to healthcare ads such as
drug offers and more than 20% of URLs received had offensive
content within the message.
Sophos has seen a steady rise in the number of obfuscated words
in email messages. For instance in this report, Sophos calculated
that there are now 5.6 billion different ways in which the word
"Viagra" can be obfuscated in a spam email.