Magic Spam Words

By Deane Barker on February 4, 2004

How to make spam unstoppable: A researcher has found the magic words that will allow spam to slip through Bayesian filters.

“The actual words it found were a total surprise,” said Mr Graham-Cumming. The list included words such as “Berkshire”, “Marriott”, “wireless”, “touch” and “comment”. Including just one of these words convinced Mr Graham-Cumming’s real spam filter that a message was ham rather than spam.

Add these words to your spam filters, quick. Via Slashdot.



  1. Actually, this list of words only gets by the filter of the researcher who found them. They would not neccesarily have the same effect for different people, since their systems would have different content in their spam and non-spam corpuses (corpi?).

    Even if these words did beat the filter, the user would simply mark them as spam, and after a couple of messages, these words would signify messages as spam rather than non-spam.

    The author also used a tactic of sending HTML in his email that let his ‘evil’ spam system know which messages got through. Browsers which don’t allow external referencing in HTML email, like Thunderbird, would never report back.

    Properly used and well-trained, a Bayes filter is a powerful tool. Mine has marked ALL of the myDoom virus attempts I’ve received as spam after being told about only two of them.

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