McAfee: Island domains hijacked to send spam

Top-level domains used to advertise spam wares

Spammers are co-opting the top-level domains (TLDs) of obscure island nations as a new tactic to avoid spam filters, according to McAfee.

In the past, spammers have ordinarily used sites with well-known TLDs such as .com or .info to advertise their wares. But McAfee's researchers began to notice a steep rise in the number of junk emails using .st domain names, .st being the TLD for Sao Tome and Principe, islands off Africa's west coast.

Digging further, they found that Sao Tome and Principe aren't alone, with domains turning up from the Isle of Man, Tokelau in the South Pacific, Tonga, Tuvalu and others.

"Some of these islands have dozens of spammed domains per square mile," said McAfee senior development manager Guy Roberts, in a statement.

Indeed, Sao Tome and Principe, with 1,001 square kilometers of land area, are the biggest of the islands to have turned up in McAfee's survey. The other TLDs favored by spammers, in descending order by size, are Tonga (.to), the Isle of Man (.im), American Samoa (.as), Tuvalu (.tv), Cocos (Keeling) Islands (.cc) and Tokelau (.tk), the smallest at 10 square kilometers.

The technique is intended to confuse spam filters, which examine in-message links as one way of detecting junk email.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Matthew Broersma

Techworld.com
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?