Romney Most-Mentioned Politician in Spam Messages

By Fahmida Y. Rashid  |  Posted 2012-02-09

Even spammers are following the United States presidential elections and have their favorites among the Republican candidates.

Bitdefender researchers analyzed 8 million pieces of spam received since January and found that Mitt Romney was associated with 45 percent of unsolicited messages that referenced a political figure, Bogdan Botezatu, a senior e-threat analyst at Bitdefender, wrote on the Malware City blog Feb. 9. Newt Gingrich was the second most popular politician in Bitdefender's "Most Mentioned Politician" spam survey, at 33 percent, followed by Ron Paul at 12.18 percent.

"The results could indicate the politicians spammers think are most likely to get a reaction from random e-mail readers," Botezatu said

Romney's name was being used in scam messages that advertise low-interest loans, free credit score analysis or ways to reduce the costs of the energy bill, Botezatu said. Gingrich spam tried to sell high-interest loans and miracle devices that could dramatically cut energy costs.

"Political parties and colors don't really make any difference for spammers, who use candidates' names alike just to accomplish their hidden agenda," Botezatu said.

While messages referencing political figures account for less than 1 percent, or 0.243 percent, of total spam volume, spammers are aware that the average Internet user is worried about the impact political change will have on their lives, according to Botezatu. In contrast, celebrity spam, which used to be one of the most popular spam vehicles a few years ago, is a mere 0.158 percent of global spam volume.

Spammers are also inserting fragments of news reports about the primaries in order to "give extra credibility to the message," and to trick anti-spam filters, Botezatu said.

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