Subliminal Messages in Pump-And-Dump Scam
Sophos has announced that spammers have been using animated graphics to dispatch subliminal messages and blast "pump-and-dump" stock scam. It found that spammers have diverted to a new tactics of animating GIFs in their scam to try and evade detection by anti-spam software. They are spreading the "pump-and-dump" stock scam to lure investors to buy stocks that would artificially raise stock values.
The term 'subliminal' is a technique, which involves flashing a short message, which will unconsciously remain etched in the viewer's mind . The process involves inserting a single frame on the website with a textual phrase like "buy this" or "buy that" every few seconds. The implicit intention is to keep the message invisible but still it achieved the desired result.
Animated GIF graphics consists of a number of frames, which appear one after the other. These were originally used for animation techniques on websites, but recently spammers have adopted them in their malicious activity.
The current spam asks recipients to purchase stock in a company named 'Trimax'. Every few seconds the word "Buy!!!" displays briefly but not shortly enough to be at the intended subconscious level. The "Buy!!!" message is an attempt to take form of subliminal message. These messages have been designed for advertising and political broadcasts to try to subconsciously influence people.
While pump-and-dump campaigns comprise 15% of the total spam, the application of GIF images in stock market spam has gone up by 17% since January 2006, said an official of SophosLabs.
According to Graham Cluley at Sophos, spammers are using animated graphics in their image spam campaigns to try to bypass filters. The message attempts to be subliminal but it is doubtful whether it will really subconsciously induce investors into buying stocks because there are advanced anti-spam solutions capable of blocking such types of spam.
The success of subliminal messages has been long argued by software security organizations across the world. But one thing is certain that because these spams try to artificially inflate the price of shares, a person who is planning to invest in a company must make his own enquiries or discuss with a professional rather than believe an e-mail coming from an unknown source.
» SPAMfighter News - 15-09-2006
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