ASCII Art – A New Spam Threat?

Sigh… spammers just keep trying to get their junk in front of our eyes… and try to find ways to defeat the spam filters… no, it is ASCII art! Back “in the day” ASCII art was cool on old “green screen” terminals… now it is a spam threat!?!?

ASCII: An artful way around spam filters

“An old computer art form is making a comeback as a newer way to evade spam filters. For decades, computing fans have enjoyed a form of expression called ASCII art that shows pictures or messages as a low-resolution graphic, a grid made of numerous computer characters encoded with the venerable ASCII standard. With a photo digitized with ASCII art, for example, the ‘#’ character can represent a dark pixel and ‘.’ a light pixel. And there are large fonts constructed from an assemblage of individual characters. Now the technique has surfaced as a way to transmit information that’s hard for spam filters to detect–but that so far, at least, has proved relatively harmless beyond that stage. ‘There’s been an upsurge in ASCII spam in the last week…It’s quite effective in getting through filters,’ said Chris Boyd, director of malware research at messaging management firm FaceTime Communications. But earlier efforts to use ASCII art for spam have proven to be duds, he added. ‘The downside is that 9 times out of 10, it’s completely useless because it’s almost impossible to read, or it’s a really bizarre picture of a naked lady that’s not clickable,’ Boyd said.”

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