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The good news is you don’t have cancer…

…the bad news is that if you tried to see your diagnosis you just installed a trojan on your system which stole your credit card number and bank account login.

A recent spam attack in the UK pretends to be a notification from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) saying that you probably have cancer. The email goes on to suggest that you open the attached (malicious) file, print it, and provide it to your doctor.

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This is a great example of the way that a lot of scams and spam can be detected just by looking for errors in spelling and grammar. My favorite in this one was the “Wite blood cells,” but there are several other mistakes that a native English speaker would be unlikely to make.

Many spammers will try to vary the content of their message to make it harder to detect and filter. While there were a few different subject lines used, all of the message bodies in this case remained the same save for the doctor’s name signed at the bottom. It appeared that these names were taken randomly from a list of (probably American) personal names. However, the spammers messed up once again. Not only was there no space after the “Dr.” but in every case the order of the first and last names was reversed, so we found things like Dr.Best Gloria, Dr.Gibbs Rosie, Dr.Phillips Tim, and Dr.Mueller Beatrice.

So, like my old English teacher used to say, pay attention to spelling and grammar. Not only will it help you communicate clearly, but it can also help protect you from spammers and scam artists (who obviously didn’t have as good an English teacher).


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