Once upon a time, Spam came in a can and could be easily avoided. Nowadays, spam plagues email inboxes around the world, hawking miracle pills and enticing the gullible with tales of offshore bank accounts containing untold fortunes.
These once text-based email infiltrators have recently turned high-tech, using layers of images to fool automatic filters. Thanks to some sophisticated new cyber-sleuthing, researchers at Concordia University's Institute of Information Systems Engineering are working toward a cure.
PhD candidate Ola Amayri and thesis supervisor, Nizar Bouguila, have conducted a comprehensive study of several spam filters in the process of developing a new and efficient one. They have now proposed a new statistical framework for spam filtering that quickly and efficiently blocks unwanted messages.
"The majority of previous research has focused on the textual content of spam emails, ignoring visual content found in multimedia content, such as images. By considering patterns from text and images simultaneously, we've been able to propose a new method for filtering out spam," says Amayri, who recently published her findings online in a series of international conferences and peer-reviewed journals.
Amayri explains that new spam messages often employ sophisticated tricks, such as deliberately obscuring text, obfuscating words with symbols, and using batches of the same images with different backgrounds and colours that might contain random text from the web. However, until now, the majority of research in the domain of email spam filtering has focused on the automatic extraction and analysis of the textual content of spam emails and has ignored the rich nature of image-based content. When these tricks are used in combination, traditional spam filters are powerless to stop the messages, because they normally focus on either text or images but rarely both.
So how do we stop spam before it sullies our inboxes? "Our new method for spam filtering is able to adapt to the dynamic nature of spam emails and accurately handle spammers' tricks by carefully identifying informative patterns, which are automatically extracted from both text and images content of spam emails," says Amayri.
By conducting extensive experiments on traditional spam filtering methods that were general and limited to patterns found in texts or images, she has developed a much stronger way, based on techniques used in pattern recognition and data mining, to filter out unwanted emails. Although the new method has been tested on English spam emails, Amayri says it can be easily extended to other languages.
While this new spam-detecting approach is still in the development stage, Amayri and Bouguila are currently working on a plug-in for SpamAssassin, the world's most widely used open-source spam filter. Amayri hopes that this plug-in will allow other researchers to perform further tests and make more progress in the field of spam detection.
"Spammers keep adapting their methods so that they can trick the spam filters, says Amayri. "Researchers in this field need to band together to keep adapting our methods too, so that we can keep spam out and focus on those messages that are really important."
Partners in research: The completion of this research was made possible thanks to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).
Related links:• Concordia's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering http://www.ece.concordia.ca/
Clea Desjardins | EurekAlert!
Fraunhofer FIT joins Facebook's Telecom Infra Project
25.10.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions
21.10.2016 | Stanford University
Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.
So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
28.10.2016 | Life Sciences