Is this spam? If so, it's ironic who is sending it

Filed Under: Spam

Today I received the following email promoting an event all about data protection and privacy that is going to be held in Scotland later this month.

One of the star speakers is the Assistant Information Comissioner for Scotland, Dr Ken Macdonald.

Do you notice anything at all odd about the email?

Email from Data Protection Scotland

Well, if you haven't spotted yet let me make it clearer.

The email was sent to klingon@sophos.com.

That's an email address we set up for anyone who has questions about the novelty Klingon Anti-Virus product we released earlier this year. (You might remember the amusing YMCA/Klingon mashup video we produced in its honour).

Now, I don't remember signing up to receive information from Data Protection Scotland with the email address klingon@sophos.com. Nor did I use shatner-response@sophos.com (which we set up for an April Fool stunt, and also received the email advert from Data Protect Scotland) or studio@sophos.com (which we use for feedback regarding our podcasts).

Is it possible that in their enthusiasm to invite as many people as possible to an event about data protection and privacy, someone has scooped up a whole load of email addresses from the internet and spammed them?

For what it's worth, the website that the unsolicited emails links to appear to be legitimate and infection-free. The emails themselves don't look particularly spammy, and my guess is that the unsubscribe link probably works. However, is it unsolicited? Yes. Is it commercial? Yes. And it's definitely email. And it's been sent to email addresses that *never* requested communications like this.

Emails like these aren't in the same league as the hackers who spread malware via email, or the bad guys who promote dodgy online pharmacies - but it sure leaves a bad taste in the mouth that an organisation that is promoting data privacy and trust should be promoting its events in this manner.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.