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In Europe, Auto Spam Translation Kicks In 102

An anonymous reader writes "While spam levels globally remain at a two-year high of approximately 90 percent, some European countries are seeing levels of over 95%. According to a new MessageLabs report (PDF here), countries such as Germany, France and the Netherlands are being heavily targeted by spammers with automated spam translation techniques. The use of automated translation services enables multiple-language spam runs and is responsible for a 13% increase in spam levels in these countries since May."
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In Europe, Auto Spam Translation Kicks In

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  • by FST ( 766202 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @05:31AM (#28863763) Journal
    Click here to get free Viagra. Cheap soft tablets can also specify a link to purchase. Cialis provide. Let your love life interesting.

    Love, Babelfish
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by arogier ( 1250960 ) *
      I have to wonder if there might be a way to get spam filters to recognize machine translations.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by codeButcher ( 223668 )
        My guess would be no, since if a machine can recognize a bad translation, it would probably also be able to use the same techniques to provide a better one - or at the least, come up with a number of translations then choose the best one from the bunch using the technique.

        It will be an arms race all over again.

        • But on the whole we'd get better translators out of it, so that would be good.

          Personally, I keep coming back to the 'put a hit out on the spammers'.

          Yes, I know it's illegal and hard to track down the spammers, but surely we can do something?

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by vintagepc ( 1388833 )
            too true... but if we get details on a "spam king" I don't see why we can't sign him up for every mass-mailing list (hard-copy AND digital) we can find... Give him a taste of his own medicine. If they try to sue, everyone will just laugh their asses off and counter-sue on the same claim.
            Remember Alan Ralsky? The guy ended up getting _truckloads_ of mail every day.
            • if we get details on a "spam king" I don't see why we can't sign him up for every mass-mailing list (hard-copy AND digital) we can find... Give him a taste of his own medicine.

              Won't that add another four inches to his manh00d and end shame at his tiny m3mb3r?

              Oh... hang on, no it won't.

              • Nah; If I recall correctly, the only thing that gets any bigger is their egos, but that's not the medication's fault - otherwise people with small ones wouldn't have any self-esteem issues.
        • But wouldn't an arms race be good for the economy?
  • I haven't seen any spam in ages... Although that could be the work of Gmail's spamfilter. =)
    • I get spam even in gmail
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Fred_A ( 10934 )

        I get spam even in gmail

        I don't see much of it in gmail, only a couple per day. But according to it's floating 30 day archive I get about 18 000 per month. English is by far the most common language although I see a little Chinese, French and German every now and then.

      • I was quite surprised recently when I received a spam that fooled the spam filter in my Yahoo! mailbox, because the subject of the message contained the word "viagra" (not even v14gr4 or the like).

        I wondered whether that might be a way to detect people clicking on the "spam" button :)

    • me neither! Also, I seem to get a lot fewer emails from my friends and relatives than I used to, but they probably just stopped using e-mail because of all the spam. But that's beside the point- I haven't gotten any spam in months, so the filter must be working perfectly!

  • by 4D6963 ( 933028 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @05:40AM (#28863803)
    Oder ich hatte, wenn es nicht fur die Zeit, die zu ubersetzen.
    • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @07:45AM (#28864359) Homepage

      It could be much worse:

      Wenn ist das Nunstuck git und Slotermeyer? Ja ... Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward


        [ hums liberty bell march ]

      • "The producers would like to note that due to military treaties, the Joke as presented in this forum as well as all documentaries is merely an approximation. The Royal Army Comedy Force refused to give us a copy, as the risk of joke proliferation is considered too great."

        After all, imagine if a spammer got a hold of it...

        • I'm not a signatory of that treaty: I'm a non-government actor engaging in joke terrorism*. And to answer your question, the spammer who read it would die laughing, thus helping to solve the problem.

          * Dear NSA: yes, I'm just kidding around, and am actually a pacifist.

  • by ciderVisor ( 1318765 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @05:46AM (#28863833)

    There to eat lemons, axe gravy soup.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I live in Finland and a lot of the spam I got in the pre-gmail era was translated. In famously bad Finnish, sure. This must be AT LEAST half a decade old idea but probably a lot older.

    I actually tried to RTFA to see if I had misunderstood what this was about or if there were other important stuff in the article but it is really short (Would you like to enlarge your 4r71cl3) so there really wasn't...

    • I know the feeling. I live in Finland too and this has been happening for a long time. The horrible translations are certainly made by a bad translation program and are quite "interesting" thanks to the errors. I can cope with the good ol' email spam but some web ads are just horrible and clearly fake scamming attempts and THOSE translated spams get on my nerves sometimes.
      • ...and are quite "interesting" thanks to the errors.

        Spam can be fun. I've started a party game where the contestants pick out lines or phrases from a bucketful of printed and cut-out spam text to construct poetry of any kind. The winner is simply the one whose opus is voted the coolest, funniest or most creative.
  • No surprise here. Just as criminals, terrorists, et. al., can (mis-)use other modern technology such as disposable cell phones, modern transport systems, and even Google Earth, it should not surprise anyone that they can turn an open, un-metered web-service to their ends. We won't ever solve the misuse problem, not without changing the 'net to something that might prevent this, and I can't see any of us (/.) asking for it anyway.
  • Most of the Spam is coming from the US or US-based companies. Thank you CAN-SPAM :-(

    • by dargaud ( 518470 )
      Most of the Spam is coming from the US

      I don't know about that, but as a european with a personal mail server in the US I get and awful lot of spam in russian and quite a bit in chinese.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Coming from and targeted to aren't necessarily the same thing.

        That said, I'd still be willing to bet that any figures that say most spam comes from the USA are heavily inflated by the general number of computers connected to the internet - particularly the number of computers infected with some sort of botnet connected to the internet - and not actually directly from companies, organizations, or people based in the USA.

        As an aside, I think one of the issues with the ever-increasing amount of spam e-mail is

        • by dargaud ( 518470 )

          addresses don't tend to get removed from spam lists - just added to. With time, the "send-to" lists would likely grow larger and larger

          With the various honeypots generating random pages full of emails, how is it possible that spam reaches valid emails anymore ? There should be a 1:10^12 ratio of valid vs honeypot addresses, and even that should jam the biggest botnets since botnets can't wait for a returned "Invalid email" message to clean its list. Or am I missing something?

          • by kill-1 ( 36256 )

            Because not every domain has a honeypot? The spammers just have to check that they don't send too many emails to a single domain.

        • Re:Still (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 ) <> on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @08:09AM (#28864493) Homepage

          USA originates twice as much spam as China.. the current most prolific spammer in the world is.... American (thanks to CAN SPAM).

          Whereas it's much more multinational than it used to be there's one country always at the top of the list.

          • Don't worry, we Brazilians hate been behind you. We took away Orkut from you guys and will take the Top Spam position soon :)
        • by Hammer ( 14284 )

          IIRC a couple of years ago there was a massive effort to stop the single biggest spammer. A Georgia based man (that is GA USA)

      • I get an awful lot of Spam in Russian and quite a bit in Chinese.

        If you use SpamAssessin, there is an solution: It implements language detection. If mail is in a language you can't read anyway, just give it a higher score! [] []

    • by HTH NE1 ( 675604 )

      Most of the Spam is coming from the US or US-based companies. Thank you CAN-SPAM :-(

      And the translations are due to French law requiring advertisements have all words foreign to the French language be translated.

      Thank you, France! Thank you so bloody much!

      (BTW, the Wikipedia page for the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages [] needs more information. For one, the two levels of protection are not defined.)

  • It is scratched.
  • Spam & Phishing ! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Actually, it is not only spam but phishing too that is booming thanks to antomatic translation.

    Lately, users from Illiad/Free one of the major ISP in France have received Phishing emails that tries to get your ISP acount.
    The basic technique is to claim your account has been locked because you did not comply with the contract service term. This is a realy good trap, P2P users might immediatly think ... doh, HADOPI's three stroke internet ban is already in action... I better take action. Then, the mail propos

    • by johnw ( 3725 )

      Then, the mail proposes to you a double-check from the ISP

      This posting has been auto-translated from French - yes?

  • .. about this story that it hits the headlines in /.? Spammers and hackers will always find a way, we've seen that since the damn of computing. Without them, anyone associated with security would be jobless.
  • is so poor that automated filtering could be put in please quite easily.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dunkelfalke ( 91624 )

      if automated filtering would be that good then you could use the same engine to make the actual automatic translation.

      • by sFurbo ( 1361249 )
        Hey, great, so, by being able to check a solution, it is possible to find a solution? I think you just showed that P=NP.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Checking translation error patterns is not translating. I think.
      • by Skater ( 41976 )

        Word and the like have grammar checkers. I know they're not perfect, but they almost certainly would catch most spam... and they don't offer translation functions.

        Of course they'd also catch many non-spam messages, too, at the highest settings, so the rules would have to be pretty loose.

    • Then the spammers must not be using, because that has enabled me to read websites and boards in german, russian and romanian.
  • My spam count, in my Gmail spam folder, has recently jumped from 4,000 to 5,500 per 30 days.

    Have another Idiot badge, you dirty spammers. Or get yourself a Gmail account.

    My addresses have seen a rise too.

    Have another Idiot badge. The clue is in the email address.

    And finally, if you are going to send me Phishing emails, I bank with Natwest, not Egg, not Halifax, not Bank of America, Bank of... In fact, I'll give you my account number, password and PIN. The bills need paying at the end of the
    • What I don't understand about spamgourmet, is that if I know that you used, I could spam you on whatever.20.yourid@spamgourmet, right?

      Plus, I'm sure it's linked to a legitimate email adress you care about.

      Any hint?

      • by maxume ( 22995 )

        If people aren't doing that, Spamgourmet is effective (I don't use it, but I was curious how far they took things). Even if spammers were doing that, you could set up a filter and have the option of dealing with those emails on a lower priority basis.

        Also, they have a feature where you can require a changeable prefix in the address (i.e prefix.whatever..., anything without it gets ignored) and offer the ability to disable/delete accounts.

    • Really? I think in the last two years, I've only seen 2 or 3 spam messages total.

      As opposed to a newly created Hotmail account that received 1 spam msg before the day was out, and ~2 spam msg's every week or so.

      As opposed to my yahoo acct, that I've had for 6+ years, and have used for anything that required an email online -- that gets ~14 spams a week.
  • Hallo! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Canazza ( 1428553 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @06:30AM (#28864007)

    Kan jeg spørre deg om litt hjelp? Jeg trenger en engelsk-norsk ordbok. Jeg forlanger å få snakke med den fem fem to diesel toget!

    • by MrMr ( 219533 )
      I think slåshdøt is brøken, I cån see the å's and ø's insteåd of [undef] chäråcters.
      Could we get our old buggy version back?
  • But in Soviet Russia, Auto Spam Translation Kicks You!

  • And you thought the English spam was bad.

    I am still amazed that email is still used at these high levels of abuse.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    yep, if i just pick one (of the 5,000 in my spam folder) at random and examine the headers it comes from a US based domain, registered with a US based hidden private reg company from a US based registra, hosted in the US, on a US IP (connected with MZIMA or Texas usually), with Domainkeys and valid TXT records advertising a US based scam/company, the amount of foreign spam or from a botnet or China is so small its negligible

    it would be simple to catch these people but yet nothing is done and my spam folder

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 )

      They're not.. they legalised it. That was the whole point of CAN SPAM.

      Unfortunately blackholing the entire US isn't an option (you'd lose slashdot for a start).

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        so, nothing of value lost, then ...

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        Unfortunately blackholing the entire US isn't an option (you'd lose slashdot for a start).

        We could just blackhole post 25...

    • Isn't spam patented? The patent trolls should go after the spammers. Or, is there some sort of agreement that those in the shallow end of the gene pool won't attack each other?

  • I live in Estonia and have been noticing this for quite some time. Funny thing is, I only get Russian language spam, a language I don't speak at all and never have been associated with speaking, no idea why the spammers seam to think I speak it. You would think if they spammed Estonia, they would do it in Estonian but I have never gotten any in Estonian. Even the company's inbox where I work gets only Russian spam.

    It shows up in my gmail every day and what sucks is no matter how many of them I mark as spam

    • by xlotlu ( 1395639 )

      At some point I started getting russian spam. Useless since I can't read it, but still annoying since Gmail didn't recognize it as spam. So I came up with this filter:
      Matches: from:(.ru)
      Do this: Skip Inbox, Delete it

      It works for most of it, and the few that didn't come from .ru addresses I'd flag manually as spam. But I haven't seen one pass through in quite a while, so I guess Gmail got better at russian.

      And some unrelated anecdotal food for thought: I started getting german spam one week after ordering

  • Subject: V1agr4

    Translation server error. An unexpected error has occurred and the input text could not be parsed. Please try again.

  • I've never noticed spammers making any attempt to communicate with me in my own language - I get spam (or rather, don't get - but it's there for me to scan if I want to check my filters are working correctly) in just about any language. The lack of an ability to speak English doesn't seem to have impeded them in the past, so why would auto-translation make a difference?

  • "While spam levels globally remain at a two-year high of approximately 90 percent" I'm at less than 10% of what I received a year ago. That's like 3 spam messages a week.
  • Spamassassin :) Here are the counts from my procmail log since I started on my current mail server.

    Mon/Year Mail Spam
    Oct 2006 686 281
    Nov 2006 1661 694
    Dec 2006 2029 757
    Jan 2007 149

  • Advertisers on Facebook like to use translation services too, with similar unintentionally hilarious results.
  • As long as they don't know how to check for errors in the translation.

    Example: Dear has two uses. A formal and an informal one. If you receive a letter from a lawyer that uses the informal translation, it just looks stupid.

  • Huh. I live in the Netherlands and haven't noticed a thing. Must be because I'm using GMail, not an actual Dutch address.

In 1869 the waffle iron was invented for people who had wrinkled waffles.