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calendar   Wednesday - December 06, 2006

More Spam?

There is a solution to the flood of spam. Hunt the f**kers down and shoot them on sight. Anything less is just not going to work. Spam filters work for a while and then the spammers find a way around them and on and on and on. Network administrators are fighting a losing battle because they are on the defensive. Somebody needs to form a rapid-insertion force that can go into Germany, Russia, Romania and Nigeria and take these asshats out.

My mail server filters out about 5,000 spam messages every freaking day. I manually kill about a hundred more. As I’ve stated here before, I pre-screen all incoming e-mails using Mailwasher Pro. For $37 you can’t beat it. It allows me to pre-screen all incoming e-mail. It shows me what is on my e-mail server waiting to be delivered and I get a preview of what’s in the e-mail.

If the e-mail contains an attachment and is from someone I don’t know ... BAM! ... bounce it back to the sender’s e-mail inbox. If it’s just more garbage about some hot stock ... BAM! ... bounce it back. You see, I don’t just delete the crap coming in - I send it back to the creep who sent it. If everyone did this, the spammer’s inbox would quickly fill up and our problems might be solved. It’s too bad we can’t do that with the junk mail that the USPS drops on me every day.

In addition to shoving the crap back in the face of the spammers, Mailwasher allows me to define rules for automatic junk removal. Every time I receive a bogus spam e-mail, I add the sender to the blacklist. Once they’re in there, any future e-mails are automatically bounced back and I never even see the crap at all.

I even have entire internet domains in the blacklist because the bastard spammers congregate on one mail service now and then. Spammers have rendered two of my Yahoo accounts virtually unusable. The problem with some e-mail services like Yahoo and GMail is that the spammers manage to get addresses from them somehow. If you create a Yahoo e-mail account today you will have a dozen spam e-mails tomorrow. I’m beginning to think Yahoo and Google are in cahoots with the spammers.

Even worse are the stupid jerks (and I’m not naming names) who open the attachment in the e-mail from the First Nigerian Bank. Those attachments plant spyware on their computers and sometimes worms that hijack their computer into sending out more spam. Spam is fast becoming the “cholesterol” of the internet. It is clogging up everything. So wise up people. Get aggressive and get a tool like Mailwasher and fight back!

Spam Doubles, Finding New Ways to Deliver Itself
(NY TIMES) - December 6, 2006

imageimageHearing from a lot of new friends lately? You know, the ones that write “It’s me, Esmeralda,” and tip you off to an obscure stock that is “poised to explode” or a great deal on prescription drugs.

You’re not the only one. Spam is back — in e-mail in-boxes and on everyone’s minds. In the last six months, the problem has gotten measurably worse. Worldwide spam volumes have doubled from last year, according to Ironport, a spam filtering firm, and unsolicited junk mail now accounts for more than 9 of every 10 e-mail messages sent over the Internet.

Much of that flood is made up of a nettlesome new breed of junk e-mail called image spam, in which the words of the advertisement are part of a picture, often fooling traditional spam detectors that look for telltale phrases. Image spam increased fourfold from last year and now represents 25 to 45 percent of all junk e-mail, depending on the day, Ironport says.

The antispam industry is struggling to keep up with the surge. It is adding computer power and developing new techniques in an effort to avoid losing the battle with the most sophisticated spammers.

It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way. Three years ago, Bill Gates, Microsoft’s chairman, made an audacious prediction: the problem of junk e-mail, he said, “will be solved by 2006.” And for a time, there were signs that he was going to be proved right.

Antispam software for companies and individuals became increasingly effective, and many computer users were given hope by the federal Can-Spam Act of 2003, which required spam senders to allow recipients to opt out of receiving future messages and prescribed prison terms for violators.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the volume of spam declined in the first eight months of last year. But as many technology administrators will testify, the respite was short-lived. “At the beginning of the year spam was off our radar,” said Franklin Warlick, senior messaging systems administrator at Cox Communications in Atlanta. “Now employees are stopping us in the halls to ask us if we turned off our spam filter,” Mr. Warlick said.

Mehran Sabbaghian, a network engineer at the Sacramento Web hosting company Lanset America, said that last month a sudden Internet-wide increase in spam clogged his firm’s servers so badly that the delivery of regular e-mail to customers was delayed by hours.

To relieve the pressure, the company took the drastic step of blocking all messages from several countries in Europe, Latin America and Africa, where much of the spam was originating. This week, Lanset America plans to start accepting incoming mail from those countries again, but Mr. Sabbaghian said the problem of junk e-mail was “now out of control.”

Antispam companies fought the scourge successfully, for a time, with a blend of three filtering strategies. Their software scanned each e-mail and looked at whom the message was coming from, what words it contained and which Web sites it linked to. The new breed of spam — call it Spam 2.0 — poses a serious challenge to each of those three approaches.

Spammers have effectively foiled the first strategy — analyzing the reputation of the sender — by conscripting vast networks of computers belonging to users who unknowingly downloaded viruses and other rogue programs. The infected computers begin sending out spam without the knowledge of their owners. Secure Computing, an antispam company in San Jose, Calif., reports that 250,000 new computers are captured and added to these spam “botnets” each day.

The sudden appearance of new sources of spam makes it more difficult for companies to rely on blacklists of known junk e-mail distributors. Also, by using other people’s computers to scatter their e-mail across the Internet, spammers vastly increase the number of messages they can send out, without having to pay for the data traffic they generate.

“Because they are stealing other people’s computers to send out the bad stuff, their marginal costs are zero,” said Daniel Drucker, a vice president at the antispam company Postini. “The scary part is that the economics are now tilted in their favor.”

The use of botnets to send spam would not matter as much if e-mail filters could still make effective use of the second spam-fighting strategy: analyzing the content of an incoming message. Traditional antispam software examines the words in a text message and, using statistical techniques, determines if the words are more likely to make up a legitimate message or a piece of spam.

- More ...


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 12/06/2006 at 04:52 AM   
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
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  2. Stay involved with government on every level and don't let those bastards get away with a thing
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  4. Keep talking to each other, whether here or elsewhere
It's been a long strange trip without you Skipper, but thanks for pointing us in the right direction and giving us a swift kick in the behind to get us going. Keep lookin' down on us, will ya? Thanks.

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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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