Spammers Use Dark Ages’ ASCII Art Trick

Spammers are not stupid. Just to drive this point home, they are now employing an age old ASCII trick in an attempt to jump by junk mail filters. ASCII art used to be a fun thing. It is a shame to see such a fun part of the Internet’s history turned into something to sell Viagra.

Some spammers are dipping into ancient tricks to slip their junk mail past filters, a security firm said Tuesday.

In the days when monitors displayed only text, not graphics, enterprising computer users would assemble images by placing characters on the screen.

Researchers at U.K.-based Sophos have spotted some spammers using the so-called ” ASCII art” to create large-sized words touting their products, such as prescription drugs.

“By using old-fashioned ASCII art with carefully positioned randomly chosen letters, spammers are attempting to sneak past e-mail filters hunting for phrases commonly used in spam,” said Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant for Sophos, in a statement.

“It’s a sneaky trick. The spam e-mail is advertising drugs like ‘Viagra’ and ‘Cialis’ without having to use the actual words.”