German spam

About two days ago, I started receiving numerous spam e-mail messages in German (courtesy of the Sober worm, according to news reports). This affected my old Road Runner account as well as my Gmail address. I don’t really care about the RR account, because it already receives tons of spam and I’ve stopped using it for anything important. But Gmail is my primary e-mail tool, and the sight of dozens of spam messages in my inbox was quite a shock. Gmail’s spam filter is normally very effective, and I’ve grown accustomed to having it stop virtually all spam. But German spam seemed to defeat the filter completely. Apparently it was scanning for key words or phrases in English.
Fortunately, this turned out to be a temporary problem. Gmail’s interface includes a feature that lets you select messages and then click a “Report spam” button. Doing so not only chucks the offending messages into your Spam folder, but also forwards copies of them to Google for use in refining the spam filter. I gave that feature quite a workout over the last two days, and I’m sure many other Gmail users did the same. By this morning, I could see the results. The German spam was still pouring in, but almost all of the messages were being automatically shunted into the Spam folder. The filter had learned.
A single German spam note reached my work e-mail inbox this morning. I was impressed that even one such note had managed to sneak past the industrial-strength filters that IBM uses on its mail servers. Sadly, its journey was in vain. I’m beta testing an anti-spam filter for Lotus Notes on my IBM desktop machine, and it also learns from experience — when you select a message and hit the spam button, a copy is forwarded to a central server and used to update the filter. By this morning, the filter was obviously aware of the German plague. It spotted the offending note and flung it into a spam holding cell without any prompting from me.
Auf wiedersehen, spam. Du bist kaputt.

One thought on “German spam

  1. Thanks for posting this. My filter caught two German communications this morning, and if I hadn’t been made aware of the German spam, I might have been curious enough to approve their delivery.