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International Conference on Complex Sciences

Researchers at the meeting, held December 5-7 in Santa Fe, N.M., offer insight into spam blocking and sick leave.

Winning the arms race with spam
Spammers are tricky adversaries: If e-mail spam filters seek out words like “enlargement” then spammers switch up their approach. “Spam changes a lot — it starts looking more like ham,” said Richard Colbaugh on December 5. Now Colbaugh and Kristin Glass, both of Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, have created a one-two punch that anticipates new tactics and makes antispam programs less predictable. Training filters, for example, to look for bits of ham mixed with spam, such as several nonspammy words, will help detect even cleverly disguised spam. And instead of using one superior filter all the time, spam fighters should mix up their weaponry. Keeping several filters on hand can keep spammers from deducing and evading antispam tactics.

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