A recently published report from Internet security company McAfee vindicated the Jewish Web site Chabad.org, revealing that unknown persons stole the site’s signature blue logo and e-mail template to style official-looking spam messages and sell unregulated prescription drugs.
According to McAfee’s “October 2009 Spam Report,” spammers have grown more sophisticated in their tactics, leading to a whopping 19 of 20 e-mail messages worldwide being generated by bogus sources. The report highlighted 10 different instances of popular brands, such as Western Union, the Monopoly board game, The Hollywood Reporter and Chabad.org, being hijacked to hawk Canadian pharmaceutical products.
Top-level IT staff at the New York offices of Chabad.org discovered the problem several weeks ago after users forwarded some of the counterfeit messages. They then reached out to technicians at major e-mail providers such as Gmail and Yahoo in an effort to prevent authentic messages from being flagged as spam in the days leading up to the High Holidays.
“There was a sense of urgency in dealing with this problem,” explained Rabbi Moshe Rosenberg, who leads the subscription department for Chabad.org, “as many people look to us for guidance in their exploration of Judaism. We owe it to our subscribers who look forward to their daily and weekly selections, and we would not want them to miss even a single issue.”
With the assistance of Brad Taylor, Google’s anti-spam “czar,” Gmail and Chabad.org were able to come up with a solution to filter out the bogus messages from the authentic Chabad.org communications. Other providers implemented similar fixes at the request of Chabad.org.
Chabad.org’s own e-mail system adheres to Internet email standards and accepted practices, and is accredited by the Institute for Social Internet Public Policy, a leading e-mail deliverability and public policy group.
Following up the report on Tuesday, David Marcus, director of security research and communications for McAfee Labs, saw in the targeting of Chabad.org “recognition of its identity as a leading Jewish website.”