Barack Obama a spammer favorite

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Chicago (IL) – Your email inbox may have been revealing an interesting trend lately – many people are receiving Barack Obama-themed emails, as spammers have discovered the President-elect as a new topic to lure users into opening potentially dangerous emails or visiting web sites that host malware.   

So we have learned not to pay attention to home loans that are advertised through email, to emails that ask you to change your PayPal passport on a suspicious site, but what about participating in a political campaign survey? It seems that spammers and malware distributors are counting on emotional tensions in the post-election weeks and it seems that Obama has been selected as the favorite topic of those emails.

Those emails promise to reveal which three stocks will soar because of the Obama win, promise an “Obama Six Pack” and talk about an “Obamamercial” in an effort to look for less cautious users. The Obama spam trend was especially strong in the days leading up to the election and the goal is always the same: Sell a product or foul users into visiting sites that host malware.

Paul Wood, senior analyst at MessageLabs, told TG Daily that between 0.09% and 0.13% of all spam sent between October 30 and November 4 was election-related, translating into 100,000 spam messages. Spam messages with Obama’s name in the subject line dominated those messages with an 82% share. Reflecting poll numbers, spammers did not use McCain’s name as often as Obama's, but the Republican party candidate did receive a big boost on the day of the election: The amount of McCain-related spam grew from 5% before to 18% after the election.

Election-themed headlines included your regular spam with a freebie promise attached, such as "Will Obama win?- Get a Presidential T-shirt + $50 gift card," or the usual nonsense like "500 Clerics Pray Obama Repents on 'Federal Sex Policies'" and "Obama, Same-Sex & Child Sacrifice."

However, the majority of spam messages were more creative than that, like "Obama, Same-Sex and Child Sacrifice", "650 Latinos killed in USA! Shocking Video + Obama's Plan", "DEFEAT OBAMA by Forwarding This Email!"

The most sophisticated variants featured catchy headlines and appeared to come from more or less trusted news sources. "BREAKING DOWN THE INFOMERCIAL: Did Presidential Candidate Barack Obama Get A Return On His Investment? / Interviews." Our favorite headline was "Profiles in Courage? A Challenge to Obama & McCain By former Congressman Mark Siljander / OP-ED."