Following up on my previous post on spam, it seems that spam has now gone another step and become not just unreadable – foreign language – but also unreadable to the un-computerized eye:
Subject: Please confirm your message
Wow that is nice, I would sure want to buy an IURPQ1…
This is plain silly it is a Base64 encoded message, but why would my reader open it?
There is indication in the email headers that this is Base64 encoded, but I can’t understand what kind of reader will even try to open it as it seems that base64 encode content inside a body is not common practice unless it is part of a multipart message.
Those wondering, the email’s intention is to show you an HTML that sells you fake? real? pills.
This post had a personal info. I have removed it as I think it is irrelevant to the point I’m trying to make. Let’s just call him “Rick”. A user on a domain I maintain forwarded me an email from Rick explaining why his anti-spam swallowed the email, I replied with a set of challenges to his anti-spam’s filter effectiveness, as well as question the validity of the reasons behind it. Let’s be charitable and just say he did not seem to be open to discuss the matter.
Personal manners aside, this does bring up the greater question of arbitrary spam filters (arguably the worst ill effect spam had on the Internet) and standards conformance. (more…)
I’ve been noticing that most of the spam I get (and nearly all that gets through the filters) arrives during the week, not the weekends. Actually, looking at my spam box, it looks like I receive around twice as much on week days than weekend days.
My point being, and I sure there are some good answers: Is spamming a full time job for a lot of spammers, or even a 40 hour a week job? I’d have to say for at least the dedicated ones, it probably is. Or, do they just figure more people check their mail on the weekdays?
Either way, spam sucks.
This was just too funny not to share. Read carefully and draw your own conclusions, haha.
from MIKE ROBINSON
date Wed, Dec 17, 2008 at 10:23 AM
subject WINING NOTIFICATION
hide details 10:23 AM (3 hours ago)
1 MICROSOFT WAY
Redmond, WA 98052.
This is to inform you that your email has won a consolation prize
of the Microsoft Corporation 2008 EMAIL DRAW.Your email has won
(£500,000.00)&(Great British Pounds)of the microsoft onlinelottery
promotion Your email address as indicated was drawn and attached to
ticket number 008795727498 with serial numbers BTD/9080648302/08 and
drew the lucky numbers 14-21-25-39-40-47(20)To file for your claims,you
are to contact your designated claims agent
Mr.mike robinson of this
PAYMENT RELEASE ORDER FORM
Microsoft Fiduciary Agent
MR Harry peterson
This junk keeps slipping through gmail’s spam filters and the best I can say about it is ‘useless’.
Anybody else been getting this kind of crap lately?
date Mon, Dec 15, 2008 at 4:02 PM
subject Christoph Schell/Kerpen/GECITS-EU is out of the office.
I will be out of the office starting 11.12.2008 and will not return until
I will respond to your message when I return or contact Michael Menen
COMPUTACENTER PLC is registered in England and Wales with the registered number 03110569. Its registered office is at Hatfield Business Park, Hatfield Avenue, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL10 9TW
COMPUTACENTER (UK) Limited is registered in England and Wales with the registered number 01584718. Its registered office is at Hatfield Business Park, Hatfield Avenue, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL10 9TW
The contents of this email are intended for the named addressee only.
It contains information which may be confidential and which may also be privileged.
Unless you are the named addressee (or authorised to receive mail for the addressee) you may not copy or use it, or disclose it to anyone else.
If you receive it in error please notify us immediately and then destroy it.
Computacenter information is available from:
I usually get 5-10 of these about once a month, all in the same hour or two.The most ‘useless’ part about it is that it doesn’t affect me, at all, in any way, neither personally or work related.
Well your favorite website’s, favorite way to see if your human or not has a problem — their ‘protection’ has been ‘broken’. Who knew that asking a user to read and type the contents of a distorted image of text would be so easy for a computer/code to do as well? CAPTCHA’s have never even looked secure to anyone with a open security mind, and those swimming in the unconscious thoughts that some day this ‘protection’ would see its core cracked… well today is your lucky day.
But never fear! There is hope (really..?)! The Carnegie-Mellon University team behind CAPTCHA’s big brother, reCAPTCHA, is for some reason continuing research towards the “effort to mix basic security and useful work”. While the reCAPTCHA service seems like a step in the right direction, I have my doubts. Actually, I think it won’t be too long until the next article at YOURFAVORITETECHNEWSSITE is about this new ‘improvement’ being ‘broken’. Oh internet, have mercy on the little people, and send your spam bots to wreck havoc on another interNET.
Yes, this should have brought tears into your eyes too Spam Volumes Drop by Two-Thirds After Firm Goes Offline, but luckily I cried too soon, I have seen spam amounts on the increase in the past 2 weeks. And unlike previous spam that my bogofilter and spamassassin were able to handle, this new spam is something that it can’t – or at least can’t yet.
I wonder what happened to make spam more ‘intelligent’, one thought that comes to my mind is that since now the massive botnet that was used to send spam is owned by someone else, the spam now looks different – something else generates it, while the same network sends it out.
I hope the catch the guy whose keeping this network alive, and take it down once more, we deserve the relief from spam for a few days at least
On a side note, I have seen an increase on foreign spam, natively written Russian, Chinese , and Japanese spam – this is even more silly than regular English written spam, as I can’t even start to wonder what they are trying to sell me
Driving around Sao Paulo you don’t notice it. But when you drive back to the airport it suddenly hits you: billboard advertisements. They suddenly stick out, and you realize through all this time in the city there wasn’t a single billboard advertisement. Unsurprisingly, it’s too easy to get used to the lack of the big-city marketing assault on your senses that you usually see elsewhere. Sao Paulo may be polluted and congested, but when it comes to billboard advertisements there’s just none of it.
Spam is like that. You don’t miss it when it’s gone – you just get more attentive for spam that does get through.
A few months ago, Israel passed a law that might be the first of its kind(*): with very few exceptions, spam is now illegal in Israel. If you receive an email that you didn’t specifically opt-in for, and that email wants to sell you something, and either the entity who sent the email is Israeli or the company that benefits from the email is Israeli, you can sue in court and get the equivalent of $250 for every email you received(!) without any need to prove direct or indirect damages(!!). The law is phrased carefully to close all the obvious loopholes: Israeli companies are liable even if they were using off-shore machines to send the spam, and if you sue them, it’s them that have to prove that the email recepient voluntarily opted to receive those emails. Not only that, but you can’t use an opt-in consent to advertise someone else’s product (hence, list renting won’t work).
For me, seeing this type of law actually working is nothing short of incredible. My inbox was routinely filled with Hebrew emails from some of the largest consumer brands in Israel, who figured it’s cheaper to pay fractions of a cent per email to tell me about attractive deals for mineral water dispensers than take out a TV spot. Having qmail as my mail server allows me to make up emails addresses on-the-fly so I can easily track where a certain advertiser got my email: I signed up for the Jerusalem post alerts and got ads from a bunch of other advertisers. I opened an account in a now-defunct web 1.0 service and my email address for that service was sold on to about a hundred different small-time spammers. I signed up for the Israeli version of ‘classmates’ and in return got bombarded by offers to by TVs at a discount. Oh, and of course the typical spammers who just guessed my email address and are sending me updates about discounted airline tickets to Africa. The typical viagra-style emails arrive in quantities as well, but those are easily filtered out. Hebrew spam is a bit more difficult to filter because some of the legitimate email I get is Hebrew newsletters that I did actually sign up for.
So to think that from December 1, 2008, when the spam law becomes active, I will cut down on my delete-key presses was beyond what I could imagine.
The month of November was as you might expect:unbelievable quantities of emails asking me to opt-in to lists I never heard of. Each trying to convince me of the huge benefits of receiving unsolicited advertisements that might change my life. Some of these emails were angry: spammers don’t like it when their work is interfered, and a group claiming to represent the small businesses who ‘have no other choice than to send spam’ tried to tell me why the law is an immediate threat to small businesses. And when I say ‘tried to tell me’ I mean sent me a few dozen emails a day almost every day that month. Well, I stand unconvinced.
December 1st came, and the flood slowed down. Still the occasional email, usually treading on the border between legal and illegal – like emails that contained a request to opt-into the newsletter (this is allowed by the new law – once only) with a small commercial pitch towards the end. The notorious ‘people and computers’, a hitech magazine and an Israeli representatives of ‘information week’ sent me daily reminders that I have not yet opted in and ‘soon’ will stop receiving their daily newsletter if I don’t fix my ways. I would have sued, but the general manager of P&C met Bill Gates once and told him: “can I please have your card?” and when gates gave him his business card he replied with “No, your credit card”. You’ve got to hand it to him: he may be a bit of a jerk, but he is funny.
A couple of newsletters keep coming regularly, beginning the email with a long disclaimer that they are not an advertisement (the content is again borderline, I imagine at some point someone will challenge them in court) and there was the one spam email that arrived last week which I am taking to small claims court to get my $250 charity money.
But other than those – barely a handful, really – a peaceful silence. I can really get used to not getting Hebrew spam. Now if only we can get Russia to follow suit!
By the way: for those wondering where the ‘catch’ is in the spam law – or as the cynics would put it: how is it possible that politicians create an actually useful law – here’s a solution to the paradox. Being the parliamentarian state that Israel is, the law specifically allows political spam to be sent. So not to worry: the politicians excluded themselves nicely. Still, it’s a small price to pay for a relatively clean inbox.
Lets see how long this serenity will last – email is still a very tempting advertising channel. But when the potential cost is $250 per email, suddenly the ROI is not as not as attractive.
(*) I’m not aware of an opt-in spam law that allows anyone to sue the body who benefits from the spam without proof of damage. Please enlighten me if I’m wrong.
Recently Kaspersky, the company who makes your favorite, or not-so-favorite anti-malicious software, called upon government and banking institutions to be more secure. But is it really up to these agencies to make draw the perfect picture of security, or should the end users stop making such bad decisions, both on and offline?
If these ‘safety nets’ are deployed, it won’t going to make the best out of security situation, but it will help. On the other side of the packet, using outdated software or insecure browsers (cough!*IE*cough!) that do little or nothing to protect the web surfers, directly and indirectly, should also be of major concern. Wouldn’t it be something if, when accessing one of these websites running INSECUREBROWSER, it suggested you use MORESECUREBROWSER, FOR SECURITY REASONS IF NOTHING ELSE? Woah, wouldn’t that be a different color light bulb. Especially if it was something like, say, Internet Explorer VS Firefox (Yes, I am saying that Firefox’s security is better than Internet Explorer. I believe both core and rendering engines are better, too).
Now, if they try to regulate the internet with security laws and cyber architecture boundaries, its just going to be one big mess. If you’d like one reason it wouldn’t work, just think about how outlawish the internet already is, and has been, since its inception. Then take a break and elaborate on it. I’m sure you’ll find more than one reason we can’t import some crazy set of regulations and actually believe they are going to work and/or solve our problems.
Here is some more fuel for thought: How about separating the internet for low and high bandwidth data flow. Interconnected, but bridged. Not a good idea? Well why not? As long as we are on the same network, there will be fighting over who owns what (more than just headers and footers). But as long as we put the big with the small, there is going to be controversy. There are going to be debates. This last part may have been a little off topic, but I feel like it needed to be said. Security isn’t made, its planned and implemented before regulation begins.
Even to right spam you apparently need:
1) A spell checker
2) Understand what the words mean
This is the spam email I received, why would someone even want to answer it?
I am Ming Yang,i have an obscured busines suggestion for you.please
Contact me for further details on ( [removed]@yahoo.com.hk )
I guess one of the signs that your web service is taking off is that spammers are targeting you. In the last few days more and more fictitious followers have surfaced, obviously for the purpose of sending twitter spam once you follow the person who is following you (as most people do almost without thinking).
Update: Definitely not automatically. The last batch of spam followers are still active accounts. Or maybe they figured twitter’s threshold and they are avoiding the automatic suspension.
I recently received a spam email that wants me to buy solar lamps for the garden, my first impulse of course was to delete it. But I had to admit, I wanted those solar lamps, they looked nice, and the price was ok.
I have no idea what to do now, on the one hand this was sent as part of a spam campain, buying it might prove to be:
1) Fraudulent – pay get nothing (best chances)
2) A scam – pay get nothing worth your money (moderate chances)
3) A legitimate deal – pay and get what I paid for (slim chances)
In addition of course to the fact that if I buy it, I am proving the spammer’s agenda, that someone wants their merchandise and this is their only way to reach him.
What do you guys suggest I do?
“How did you two meet? Did you mark her, or was it the other way around?”
- Robert Redford to Brad Pit, Spy Game
Con man 101: The best way to gain someone’s confidence is to make them think they contacted you. Scammers just love having potential victims contacting them.
Now, it seems they figured an interesting way to draw potential victims to their web site, in a way that is much easier than sending billions of spam email messages.
The idea is simple: take the person’s name (real people’s names are available for harvesting in places like linkedin, facebook, and other social networks) and put it in a web page. Doesn’t really matter where, as long as google indexes it.
Wait a while, and have that person google himself. Many people (myself included) have a ‘google alert’ on their name which sends them updated list of links to new pages where their name is mentioned.
Everyone likes to see where they are mentioned, so they will click on the link. And voila! They arrive to the spammer’s page. In some cases I’ve seen, the name was already gone from the page (but was still in the google cache). But all this doesn’t matter: as soon as the person reached the page, the web spammer’s job is done – he got his message in front of you, and maybe you’ll even dig deeper into his web site trying to figure out what the connection is to you.
There are many advantages to this method. First, you are not restricted by the message: the web page can openly have the words Viagra, Credit card debt and mortgage assistance without the fear of triggering anti-spam software. Also, people will pay more attention to the page since they think it has to do with them.
I don’t get the spammers’ marketing statistics, but I’m sure that the infamous spam text “it came to our attention that you’re in dire need of financial help” which sounds very much like a sincere, personal message, is a huge success. But this message has to get through the spam filters and include a real email address and a correct first/last name. The spam web page doesn’t need to bypass spam filters, and already has the correct name. In addition, you gain interesting information about the visitor: browser version, IP location and of course, the name he was searching for (that would be in the ‘referrer’ that is sent automatically by the browser to the web site). Oh, and of course – it’s cheap. You only need to put together a nice looking web page, and wait for google to do the rest. No buying of email lists and no cost of sending spam (which is nowadays the cost of hiring a zombie botnet for a couple of days).
For those aspiring scammers who are reading this, you should understand that it’s not a foolproof method. Obviously, it requires people to do a vanity search to reach you in the first place (though it also works on people who google their dates, their parents or their teachers). It also requires time – days, weeks or months (which may be difficult if your web site is on a zombie computer that might disappear by the time google indexes and the user comes to the site). But due to the fact the costs are very small, and there are no effective countermeasures at the moment, I think we will see more and more such attacks in the near future.
Apparently Google’s calendar has been elected to become a new spam platform.
I started receiving these a few days ago, at first I thought it to be a fluke but not it has become a flood.
Someone in Google should probably start looking at this and getting it fixed, as this isn’t a “fake” Google calendar invitation but rather a legit Google generated one.
In essence the invitation contains the subject of what can be considered good by most good news:
CONTACT MY SECRETARY FOR YOUR CHEQUE
When I read “Cheque” I am happy
But that is just me, maybe someone else will become sad, maybe the guy who is giving the cheque
And then this is followed by:
My Dear friend
How are you today together with your family,i thank God almighty for his infinity mercy upon my life for latter making this business to work out sucessfull.
I’m happy to inform you about my success in getting the fund transferred under the cooperation of the new partner from LUXMBURG . Presently i’m in LUXMBURG for investment projects with my own share of the total sum. meanwhile,i didn’t forget your past efforts and attempts to assist me in transferring those funds despite that it failed us some how.
Out of my sincere heart i have deceided to show gratuted to you and i have signed a Cheque on your behalf for your compasation,now contact my secretary in Cotonou, Republic of Benin,his name is Mr. Santex Romack and his email address ;firstname.lastname@example.org) in and ask him to send you the total amount of $1.5,M Cheque which i kept for your compensation for all the past efforts and attempts to assist me in this matter.and instruct him where to send the amount to you.I appreciated your efforts to assist that time despite that you later disappointed me.
so feel free and get in touch to my secretary Mr Santex Romack Please do let me know immediately you receive it so that we can share the joy together after all the sufferness at that time. in the moment, i am very busy here because of the investment projects which i and the new partner are having at hand, finally, remember that I had forwarded instruction to my secretary on your behalf to receive that money, so feel free to get in touch with Mr.Santex Romack and he will send the Cheque to you without any delay.
And finally of course the meeting details in both iCal and vCal, which asks me to meet with them or just reply so that they can tell me exactly where we should meet
The headers of the email show that it was sent by Google’s internal SMTP server and was auto-generated by Google’s calendar service
And it was
…almost 30 years since the first spam message was sent.
We can read more here: