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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 September, 2004, 07:57 GMT 08:57 UK
Spammers go east with junk offers
Chinese surfers
Chinese surfers are as likely to be plagued by spam
Asian spammers are filling inboxes with junk, say e-mail filtering experts.

Spam watchers have noticed an upsurge of junk e-mails written in Korean, Chinese and Japanese.

While few in the West will be able to decipher these messages, it means yet more clogged inboxes.

Some filters are not yet able to analyse messages written in double byte characters such as Chinese and Korean to work out if they are spam or legitimate e-mails.

New breed

According to spam filter firm Clearswift, such e-mails now account for 5% of all the spam it is seeing.

Now spam has become so cheap they have stopped caring and are sending it to everyone
Matt Sergeant, MessageLabs
"We started seeing this new breed of spam back in June but in the last couple of days of August it was suddenly everywhere," said Alyn Hockey, director of research at Clearswift.

While the content of these e-mails will mean little to users without a proficiency in one of the Oriental languages, it will mean yet more junk in their inboxes.

It could suggest that more spam is originating in the Asian territories and that spammers are increasingly targeting the Far Eastern countries with localised offers, said Clearswift.

Indiscriminate

According to mail filtering firm MessageLabs, junk messages have historically been a big problem in Korea and China, although less so in Japan.

"Spammers in Korea and China used to try and harvest Korean and Chinese specific e-mail addresses," explained MessageLabs senior anti-spam technologist Matt Sergeant.

"Now spam has become so cheap they have stopped caring and are sending it to everyone," he added.

MessageLabs has also spotted a rise in Asian spam in the last few months.

While the filters used by MessageLabs are able to spot spam regardless of the language they are written in, that is not the case for all filters.

Setting a filter to reject all spam written in a particular language is relatively easy.

But it is more complicated to get it to distinguish between spam and a legitimate e-mail written in Chinese.




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