Fwd: STOP SPAM & ADULT EMAIL di mzwzrcvt

by Alan Graham

I recently received the following Email:

This program worked for me. If you hate Spam like I do, you owe it to your self to try this program, and forward this email to all of your friends which also hate Spam or as many people possible. Together lets help clear the Internet of Spam!

When you start receiving spam about removing spam...the problem has reached a whole new level of the absurd. There is a special circle of hell reserved for spammers.

As of three years ago I had yet to receive a single piece of spam. Flash forward to the present. I now spend about 30% of my Email time evaluating my mail in order to distinguish actual correspondence from junk mail. I also find myself spending extra time considering the subject lines in my own correspondence because I find they often sound like spam. I estimate that about 50% of my mail storage capacity is consumed by spam, forcing me to purchase additional storage space in order to ensure I don't start bouncing mail. I could try and delete all of it, but the time it would take to sort it is time I don't have.

For awhile, spam filters seemed to work, but each time they improved on the filter, the spammers found a way to circumvent it. Occasionally a valid Email slips through, forcing me to abandon the filter. In a final act of desperation, I abandoned the Email address I've used for the past three years, to reduce the problem. I came up with what I think is an effective (yet not original) solution to the problem (more on that later), although I am not sure how long it will last.

Fighting the Good Fight

People spam because it works. Only a small percentage of individuals need reply for the spammers to quantify it as a success. Even attempts to opt-out of spam lists only validates to the spammer that your email address is active.

Unfortunately, no current proposed or enacted legislation will stop spam because it is almost (if not actually) impossible to enforce. Though I applaud legislators trying to curb the problem, I don't see their efforts bearing fruit. The real responsibility for change lies in our hands (the tech community). We share a good portion of the blame for the problem. I'm aware that most of the computer geeks out there are savvy enough to avoid spam tactics, but our culpability is that we have failed to educate the public on how to combat the problem. We complain, we legislate, we write code...but the simplest thing to do...is just to talk.

International Spam Awareness Day

I propose that we designate an International Spam Awareness Day, and get as many people within the tech community to observe the day by performing one simple task. Pick five people that you know who are not tech savvy. Your job is to give them a flyer and verbally educate them on why replying to any spam or purchasing from any spammer, makes them personally responsible for the problem. Then you charge them with the same task of educating five people...the anti-spam chain letter effect. Once people stop responding, the metrics drop and it no longer becomes a commercially viable business model. Then they'll just go back to telemarketing...or junk faxes...or whatever rock they crawled from under.

Simple, effective, and cheap. I'll tell five friends, they'll tell five friends and so on. All that's left is to pick a date and get the word out.

My Spam Spoof

One reason I get a lot of spam is that my Email address is published on the web. I use .Mac for my mail solution, but regardless of who your provider is, I have a cheap way to create a challenger to eliminate or slow the oncoming mass of junk mail.

I've created a non-published mail address and a published mail address. When you send an email to the published mail address you get an auto-responder that tells the sender this is not my real mail address or is no longer valid. Inside the auto-responder is a URL to a site where there is a flash file (or .gif/.jpeg) with the real address. Since I doubt very much that spammers read my auto-responder (most of their domains are fake/stolen), I feel relatively comfortable they will not reply to my personal mail address. In fact, in the many weeks I've had the new system, I only received one piece of spam.

Fingers crossed.

So, what date should we set for International Spam Awareness Day?


2003-10-06 16:21:04
Burn in hell.
In the time it took me to write this blog entry...I've received 12 spams.
2003-10-07 10:41:07
I've a desperate solution...
Lets sponsor a mafia hit on spammers. That's right, set up www.mafiahit.com where hitmen can bid on hits on our most active blemishes of society and collect PayPal funds until a contract can be satisfied for that spammer... Ya gotta admit that would make a spamming CEO think about sending that email if he woke up the next morning with a horse head in his bed. Heck, lets even include the Advertising information collection companies! A spyware app can get your legs broken on a regular basis, perhaps the net will be fun again...

I'm kidding of course, but one can dream of the good old days when the internet didn't mean money.

2003-10-07 10:48:36
sign up with a good ISP, and forget spam
Comcast feeds me bits, and I practically never see spam.
2003-10-07 12:38:30
I usually would agree, but...
In this case, it's not that the people replying to SPAM don't know they're getting junk mail; they just don't *care* about SPAM. I mean, they must get as much of this junk as anyone else - the difference is that they're actually reading the messages! Many SPAM messages feed upon people who are insecure and desperate, those people who are enticed by these less than refutable products in the off-chance that it really will make them popular/get them a date/make them money/fix their computer/etc. I remember reading about a SPAM company that was hacked and had their customer records stolen, and the hackers found that their clientele included successful businessmen and even CEOs who most certainly should know better. =)

These are simple scams, which have existed for many, many years. I doubt that they will disappear soon, especially since there are a lot of people who think that, well, those others are junk, but *this* SPAM might be just what I need!

I think legislation really is the answer here, because we can't stop people from buying their products, and we can't stop spammers from utilizing email as a primary method of advertising. We can only tax them or make it illegal, to reduce that percentage somewhat. (I prefer taxing it because it raises the barrier to entry and contributes money back into the economy.)

2003-10-07 12:49:54
Re: I usually would agree, but...
Tell me...how will you enforce legislation? Spammers can be located anywhere in the world. Why bother having a physical address in a nation that would enfore a law when you can be located anywhere?

So let's say we trace the mail back to a spammer, and that spammer originated from overseas...how are you going to shut them down with law enforcement?

Even if we prosecute the businesses that make the products...why punish them if they didn't know about it.

Regardless whether the spam is a product or a scam...until people know better not to reply...this won't change. Only when the metrics of the responses go below the financial incentive to spam...will it stop.

2003-10-08 01:56:38
Re: I usually would pass over this argument, but...
Take a look at this list.


Then tell me the United States shouldn't pass legislation outlawing spam as a first step in cutting it.

Of the spam (20 or so per day) I receive 100% quotes prices in US$, points to a website , or assumes a US address (I am not in the US). If the USA passed a federal law actually banning spam and vigourously pursued the offenders, a lot of these spammers (and note there aren't actually very many of them) would be forced to reconsider. Moving country is not a simple or painless operation, and for most spammers I would have thought it's beyond their means and they'd rather move on to mail-order catalogues or whatever other quick rich scheme they had before. Note just because the servers aren't in the US (though the vast majority are), doesn't mean someone who lives there can't be prosecuted.

Frankly, I think you should rethink your position and stop repeating the received libertarian wisdom that 'legislation can't solve this problem'. These people should be fined heavily for their activities - they're not actually *so* hard to find (there's an interview on wired with one this week). How's that for lowering the 'financial incentive to spam'.

2003-10-08 09:31:51
Re: I usually would pass over this argument, but...
I didn't say we shouldn't legislate. What I said was that I don't think you'll be able to enforce it. No amount of legislation will stop the "Nigerian" type of scam...especially when it originates from another nation with no spam laws.
2003-10-10 08:58:53
"forcing me to abandon the filter"
In your article, you say

"Occasionally a valid Email slips through, forcing me to abandon the filter."

What program(s) are you using for your filtering? I thought that the mac.com spam filters (which use Brightmail I think?) were not custimizable. But maybe this has changed. I'm asking because my guess is that your current challenge-response-type filtering will probably end up losing you some potential correspondents and you might want to go back to non-challenge-type filtering.

2003-10-18 11:58:41
spam with sissy powerpoint files
what I really hate is not text spam, but those 2 or 3 meg powerpoint files that ends with a fluffy bear saying 'Hug me!'
2003-11-08 15:33:19
spam with sissy powerpoint files
That's usually not spam per-se but d*ckh**d [so called] friends who forward [to them] anything remotely to all their unsuspecting friends. A form of junk mail that I've been so aggressive in combatting that I now get phone calles asking "Why haven't you answered my emai?" ... the reply ... "Because all you ever email me is b*llsh*t, so called, funnies & I blocked your address."

Now don't get me started on virus warning emails.

2003-11-08 16:16:26
Re: I usually would agree, but...
Take a look at http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/bbing/stories/s918361.htm & you'll find that the vast majority of spam originates from one small part of Florida in the good ole USA. America should legislate & agressively enforce that legislation not only for the good of American citizens but as part of being a good international citizen. This scourge affects email users all over the worls but most of it comes from America ... America must act!
2003-12-01 06:04:52
Re: I usually would pass over this argument, but...
As far as fraudulent spam goes, there is a solution:
Legislation that would require anyone importing data comm traffic to register their gateway with the FCC or US Customs (or the equivalent for other countries).
Should say the FCC determine an overseas network is sending illegal or injurious traffic into the US segment of the Internet they would have the authority to impose a temporary block on that particular provider or CIDR range of IP addresses.

This would give an incentive for the likes of Telefonica and operators of 200/8 et. als. to
clean the spammers, scammers and kiddy-porn peddlers off their networks if they wish to provide their customers access to the US portion of the Internet.