In an effort to avoid having their emails detected and blocked by spam filters, some spammers have taken to focusing on smaller groups of recipients and sending them handcrafted emails. Instead of sending a badly worded email to hundreds of thousands of accounts, and having them all end up in junk folders, these ‘artisanal spammers’ are focusing on creating high quality messages that are sent to just a few thousand email accounts.

Cutting down on the number of recipients for each email and upping the quality of the content is having the desired effect, at least as far as the spammers are concerned: the majority of such spam mails are landing in people’s inboxes rather than their junk folder and subsequently being opened far more often. Whether people are clicking more frequently on the links that such emails contain is not yet clear but the fact that these potentially dangerous missives are finding their targets is of real concern.

Internet security firms are keen to implement new measures designed to combat bespoke spam, an example of which is a global email validation system known as Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC). The idea behind this system is that companies who regularly send emails to their customers can register the domains they use to do so with a central registry. Any mail purporting to come from these companies that does not originate from the domain that has been registered with DMARC can then be directed to junk folders or blocked altogether.