The Brave New World of Spam 2.0

Journalist:
October 27, 2014

I am a Gmail user, and I filter all my mailboxes through Gmail. I don’t find spam too annoying at the moment because Google catches almost all spam before it reaches my inbox. If anything, I find false positives (legitimate mail sent to spam) more annoying than false negatives (spam in the inbox). But that could change with new generations of blockchain-based spambots.

It’s a story as old as time, or at least as old as the Internet. Spammers have always found new creative ways to invade our mailboxes, and they have always been early adopters of new Internet technologies.

Now, they are invading the blockchains of Bitcoin and the emerging crypto-economy.

First, businesses have been sending free spamcoins to random Bitcoin addresses, in the hope the targets, seeing that an address sent them 0.00000001 BTC and looking the transaction up on Blockchain.info, would click on the company’s website URL embedded in a tag. This new spam method is already causing some problems for websites that require bitcoin deposits.

Also read: Companies Send Free Bitcoins As Advertisements

Spam 2.0 Targeted to All Holders of a Digital Asset

Now, spammers are starting to use digital assets through a decentralized, second-generation currencies exchange.

Due to the distributed and public nature of Blockchain-based technologies, it is relatively easy for spammers to get their hands on addresses of active users in the network.

For example: in NXT’s decentralized trading platform, SAE (Secure Asset Market), you can easily search for holders of a certain traded digital asset (using services like Nxtblock.info for example), and get a full list of accounts that hold the asset you were looking for.

All a spammer needs to do is to find popular assets and within a few minutes get a high-quality, detailed list of active asset holders’ addresses. From there, the way to spam these accounts is fairly easy.

Thousands of users in the decentralized exchange will be surprised with this the new asset in their portfolios and try to understand why did they receive this wonderful gift. It’s fair to assume that some of the users will be lured to click on the link provided, or at least to read the description of the digital asset. Either way, the spammer will achieve his goal relatively easily in most cases.

It’s easy to see that these new spamming techniques have a lot of potential, even more so now that flexible and powerful sidechains seem poised to replace altcoins. I guess there is a lot of money to be made in blockchain-based spam filtering systems.

What do you think? Comment below.

Images from Shutterstock.

Last modified (UTC): October 27, 2014 12:01

Giulio Prisco @giulioprisco

Science writer, software developer, Bitcoin/crypto enthusiast.