Inbox Insider: Spammers use legitimate servers to sneak into inboxes

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No one can say that spammers aren't innovative. Every week, they seem to come out with a new way to scam people.

According to Commtouch, one of this week's spam tactics is sending e-mail purporting to be from Canadian pharmacies. The fraudulent e-mail includes a hyperlink to Flash files that automatically redirect to a “Canadian pharmacy” spammer site. Interestingly, the Flash files themselves are hosted on legitimate image-hosting sites, letting them skulk by spam filters. Sneaky. Commtouch's Q2 2008 Email Threats Trends Report says that an average of 10 million “zombie” IP addresses are active each day, and spam levels throughout the second quarter averaged 77% of all e-mail messages.

In addition, Return Path, in its new Reputation Benchmark Report, found that 80% of e-mail is being sent from illegitimate or unknown mail servers.

So what does this playing field mean for legitimate e-mailers? As spam continues to concern consumers, ESPs are fighting back to make sure that their mail gets delivered.

This week, e-mail service provider Message Systems integrated the Commtouch e-mail security technology into its mail transfer agent to help detect zombie or botnet activity.

Goodmail also offers a pay-for-play system that lets marketers who adhere to best practices and have low complaint rates get certified to send e-mail that goes past spam filters. Return Path also offers a Sender Score service that helps e-mail marketers measure their deliverability based on reputation.

As spammers continue to come up with new ways of getting into the inbox, legitimate marketers have to work that much harder to make sure their invited e-mails don't get mixed in with the bulk of bad mail.

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