New spam technique uses subliminal messages to manipulate users

PandaLabs has detected a spam message that uses subliminal advertising techniques. At first glance, it is an advertisement that gives the user the opportunity to buy certain stocks online. However, the user not only sees a static image, but also a sequence of images that are displayed extremely rapidly. To be more specific, there are four images, three of which show the word Buy in different positions.

Subliminal advertising techniques have been used for a long time and are based on composing images that users perceive, even though they are not aware of it. In the case of this email message, the word Buy appears on screen for a maximum of 40 milliseconds, and in some cases, for only 10 milliseconds. By doing this, although the recipient is not consciously aware of the Buy message, the subconscious levels of perception receive it and store it, influencing the recipient.

According to Luis Corrons, director of PandaLabs, “This is the first time we have detected an Internet threat that uses subliminal techniques. Although in this case the author cannot boast a fine-tuned technique, it is worrying to witness how cyber-criminals are trying to introduce new strategies to increase the effectiveness of their attacks. And, worse still, we can expect new and more sophisticated threats of this kind to appear. Think about the damage that this type of message could cause, especially to young users.”

In many cases, use of subliminal advertising is composed based on images that can suggest sexual postures or words related to sex. It has also been used in movies to cause an impact on the audience. In any case, in spite of the controversy surrounding its effectiveness, almost all worldwide legislation bans the use of subliminal techniques in advertisements.

To protect against these types of threats, it is essential to have the appropriate security tools, which include anti-spam and content filtering technologies. This will help prevent threats like this from reaching users’ mailboxes.

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