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German-Language Spam Bears Racist Message
Anti-Spam Experts Tracking Wave of Spam That Surfaced Wednesday

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_____Spam In The News_____
Feds, Private Groups to Educate Consumers About 'Phishing' Scams (washingtonpost.com, Jun 17, 2004)
FTC Rejects Creation of No-Spam Registry (The Washington Post, Jun 16, 2004)
The FTC's View on the Spam Problem (Live Online, Jun 17, 2004)
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Written by washingtonpost.com's tech policy team, the e-mail version of this weekly feature includes an original news article and links to policy and cyber-security stories from the previous week.
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By David McGuire
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Friday, June 11, 2004; 12:44 PM

German-language messages bemoaning the presence of Turks and other foreigners in Germany started arriving in e-mail in-boxes around the world this week, an incident that cybersecurity and anti-spam experts said reveals a new twist in the use of junk e-mail.

The e-mail blitz, which began on Wednesday, peppered accounts of users in the United States, the Netherlands, Finland and several other countries.

"It's thrown at everybody, and I guess they hope to find enough Germans in their samples," said Johannes Ullrich chief technology officer for the SANS Internet Storm Center, which monitors Internet attacks.

Ullrich, who speaks German, said he received more than a dozen of the messages at his U.S.-based e-mail address.

Denver-based anti-spam company MX Logic has identified 25 variants of the spam, some of which contain links to nationalist Web sites with names such as "Citizen's Movement" and "Resistance" that urge Germany to rid itself of its Muslim population and to oppose Turkey's attempts to join the European Union.

By Thursday afternoon, MX Logic was filtering about 10,000 of the messages every hour on behalf of its approximately 2,000 corporate clients, said Scott Chasin, the company's chief technology officer.

Julian Haight, the founder of San Bruno, Calif.-based anti-spam firm SpamCop, said he received about 1,000 complaints from the 30,000 customers who use SpamCop's free service.

Several of the German-language e-mail messages appear to be news articles reporting on purported scandals or crimes involving German citizens of Turkish origin. Several of the messages blast the German press for under-reporting stories of Turkish violence against German citizens.

One of the e-mails provided by MX Logic purported to be a news article describing how three German youths were beaten up by a group of Turks on the night of "June 15-16" because one German was wearing a shirt with the phrase "Lieber Currywurst als Doener" on it. It means "currywurst" -- a German sausage with Indian spices -- is better than "doener," a Turkish dish similar to a shish kebab wrapped in pita bread.

Turks form the second-largest ethnic group in Germany, many of whom arrived in the country after World War II to assist in rebuilding the ravaged nation. Some far-right Germans, including neo-Nazis, want Turkish immigrants and their children -- most of whom were born in Germany -- expelled.

The spam messages are coming from networks around the world, according to MX Logic.

Ken Dunham the director of malicious code for Reston, Va.-based Internet security firm iDefense, said he has received reports from technicians who traced the spam to computers infected with a variant of the "Sober" worm. The worm first hit the Internet in October 2003 and struck German computers with particular virulence.

The Internet Storm Center's Ullrich said the pattern of the spam campaign suggests that the messages are being sent by computers that hackers have commandeered. The computers' owners probably do not know that their PCs are being used to send spam.

A spokeswoman at the German Embassy in Washington, D.C., said that the embassy has not received any of the e-mails. "At this point we cannot confirm that they come from Germany," said spokeswoman Martina Nibbeling-Wriessnig.

MX's Chasin said the political content of the messages makes them unique. "What's interesting about this is that it is the first widely distributed case of a political organization, exploiting the weakness of the e-mail infrastructure to deliver a political message," he said.

Ullrich said the campaign was the largest of its kind that he ever witnessed.

"Spam is cheap but it's not that cheap," he said. "Somebody had to pay something for that."


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