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).
• Concordia's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering http://www.ece.concordia.ca/
• Concordia Institute of Information Systems Engineering http://www.ciise.concordia.ca/
Clea Desjardins | Source: EurekAlert!
Further information: www.concordia.ca
More articles from Information Technology:
Hipster, surfer or biker? Computers may soon be able to tell the difference
11.12.2013 | University of California - San Diego
Electronic mandates for SEPA direct debit transactions
09.12.2013 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO
The molecular architecture of three key proteins and their complexes reveals how plants fine-tune their immune response to pathogens
Plants rarely get sick in their natural environment. When the threat of infection arises, a quick decision is made about the necessary countermeasures. The course is set by a protein which forms complexes with its partner proteins for this purpose.
Jane Parker from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding ...
Researchers studying speciation of butterfly orchids on the Azores have been startled to discover that the answer to a long-debated question "Do the islands support one species or two species?" is actually "three species".
Hochstetter's Butterfly-orchid, newly recognized following application of a battery of scientific techniques and reveling in a complex taxonomic history worthy of Sherlock Holmes, is arguably Europe's rarest orchid species. Under threat in its mountain-top retreat, the orchid urgently requires conservation recognition.
A lavishly illustrated publication, titled "Systematic revision of Platanthera in ...
Researchers from Brown University and the University of Hawaii have found some mineralogical surprises in the Moon's largest impact crater.
Data from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper that flew aboard India's Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter shows a diverse mineralogy in the subsurface of the giant South Pole Aitken basin.
The differing mineral signatures could be reflective of the minerals dredged up at the time of the giant impact 4 billion years ago, ...
In power electronics systems bonded connections create the central electrical connections between adjoining surfaces.
The quality of these bonded connections is one of the main factors that determines the reliability and availability of drive systems in electric vehicles, and hence constitutes a major design challenge for German auto manufacturers aiming to electrify their vehicles.
Now the partners participating in the RoBE (Robust Bonds in ...
International team of scientists develops new feedback method for optimizing the laser pulse shapes used in the control of chemical reactions
In many ways, traditional chemical synthesis is similar to cooking. To alter the final product, you can change the ingredients or their ratio, change the method of mixing ingredients, or change the temperature or pressure of the environment of the ingredients.
Like an accomplished chef, chemists have become very skilled ...
11.12.2013 | Information Technology
11.12.2013 | Life Sciences
11.12.2013 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
11.12.2013 | Event News
10.12.2013 | Event News
05.12.2013 | Event News