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Google Says Spam Volumes On the Rise

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the my-inbox-is-crying dept.

Google 187

alphadogg writes "Despite security researchers' efforts to cut spam down to size, it just keeps growing back. The volume of unsolicited email in the first quarter was around 6 percent higher than a year earlier, according to Google's e-mail filtering division Postini. Security researchers have won a few significant battles against the spammers in the last year, first against those hosting the spammers' control systems, and later against the control systems themselves, but they will have to change tactics again if they want to win the war. In the first half of last year, security researchers concentrated their efforts on identifying the ISPs or hosting companies that allowed command-and-control servers to operate, and shutting these botnet purveyors down. The success of that tactic was short-lived, however."

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If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857954)

If you are successful at combating spam, you will see a rising volume. Here is the chain reaction that takes place:
  1. A spammer has an established source of income that he profits from his operations. Let's say it's ten grand a month. Everything is going well--he kicks back and watches watches the money machine.
  2. You implement a better spam blocking program or a better educate users or do something so that the five hundred clicks he gets a day drops to four hundred clicks a day.
  3. The spammer now finishes at eight grand at the end of the month and notices something is wrong.
  4. The spammer is certain that he can grab back those clicks and all he (did you ever notice how spammers are always men?) has to do is crank up the volume whether it be by getting more e-mails to spam or sending more frequent spams or revolutionizing his spamming tactic and adding new templates and variables to trick people or get around blocks.
  5. In the end we see spam rise.

Now, maybe he makes that two grand back in his push and maybe he don't. Maybe your new method reduced his clicks from five hundred to five per month. Either way the best we can hope is that at some point that income shrinks to negative or so little it's not worth his time. The problem is that even if 0.0001% of his spam messages generates a click, he's making bank.

The battle for clean e-mail should be fought on a number of fronts. Public awareness is the key weak link in the chain in my opinion. And as a new net savvy generation arises, that will come naturally.

No matter how much I tell my friends and family to be safe on the net, my friend in Cairo had ten credit cards opened in her name and I had to help her clean it up over here. To make sure it didn't happen again we went over smart procedures like if your bank sends you an e-mail you should read it and then open up your browser by hand and type in the bank's URL as you know it by hand and look for the corresponding information on the site. Yeah, it's a pain in the ass but if you can't find it you can always just call them. Don't click the e-mail link and drop your username and password into some site you don't trust. If I had to guess how she got tripped up, it was when she went to Cairo for school she couldn't afford to talk on the phone and had gotten lazy and careless with doing all her banking online.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31858032)

Mod Parent Awesome

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31858066)

+1 Redundant.

God dammit, people, this isn’t rocket science. Learn to use the internet safely or stay off it.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (3, Insightful)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859516)

Learn to use the internet safely or stay off it.

Unfortunately, staying OFF the net completely is becoming more and more difficult. From making your homework at school to searching for products for your job, it becomes increasingly hard for Joe Average NOT to use the Internet.

I think that we eventually will get most people aware of how to act safely on the Internet. But as in real life, there will always be fools who can't be educated.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (5, Interesting)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858074)

Kidnapping for money is a big industry in Mexico. It is all but unheard of in the United States. Why? Because the FBI made it unprofitable. They use whatever resources are needed to track down and bust the kidnappers, however long it takes. We need that kind of will in the fight against spam. It is expensive at first, but less expensive as people get out of the business.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (0, Troll)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858162)

Yes, because the inconvenience of mashing the 'delete" key a few times is exactly comparable to the inconvenience of having a family member kidnapped and held against their will. Why not involve the FBI in the fight against SPAM, it's not like they have anything [fbi.gov] better [fbi.gov] to [fbi.gov] do [fbi.gov] .....

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (2, Insightful)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858400)

Actually, if you look at it purely in monetary terms, spam is probably a bigger problem in the United States than terrorism. Obviously, spam rarely kills anyone, but in terms of murder, terrorism is not as significant a driver of tragedy in America as the US government would like you to think.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (0, Troll)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858500)

Actually, if you look at it purely in monetary terms, spam is probably a bigger problem in the United States than terrorism

Spam bankrupted an entire industry [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31859062)

Spam bankrupted an entire industry?

Southwest must have missed that memo [centreforaviation.com] . Everyone else bankrupts themselves on a regular basis with or without terrorism as an excuse, usually because they signed ridiculous contracts with unions.

It seems that for corporations, bankruptcy is the easy way out of contractual regret.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (1)

Krahar (1655029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859628)

Actually, if you look at it purely in monetary terms, spam is probably a bigger problem in the United States than terrorism

Spam bankrupted an entire industry [wikipedia.org] ?

Neither did terrorism. The main cost associated to terrorism in the US is the cost of the emotion-based, expensive and ineffectual responses the American people demand to see from their leadership. The direct financial cost of terrorism is infinitesimal compared to that. Terrorism is "just" another kind of murder, and treating it as such in a low-public-profile way is exactly what Americans could do to make terrorism unattractive as a method of attack. It is the response of the American people to terrorism that is driving terrorism. It is the response of the American people through their politicians that inflicted great costs on American Airlines - the terrorists didn't. The terrorists killed lots of people, and that is the entire extent of *their* crime. Everything else you can blame your neighbors for, if you live in the US. Not that many other countries would respond in a better way, mind you, which is exactly what makes terrorism effective.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31858532)

What's worse, a murderer or someone who willfully wastes 1 minute of 10,000,000 peoples' time?

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858798)

In aggregate, that lost time will likely cause at least one death. So they're roughly on par, though it obviously depends on motive and circumstances.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858996)

1 minute of 10,000,000 peoples time, once? Once per day? 10 times per day?

What happens when those spammers get the life savings of Grandma? What happens when they get the life savings of 10 people? What happens if those people get sick but can't get the meds?

My life isn't going great right now. I volunteer to take one for the team* if spam and scammers, from my death forward stopped completely once and for all.

*As long as it's something awesome and painless.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859088)


What's worse, a murderer or someone who willfully wastes 1 minute of 10,000,000 peoples' time?

I dunno, if one of these people who keeps buying stuff from spam gets killed by fake/off-spec pills does that make the spammer a murderer?

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (-1, Flamebait)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858540)

Actually, if you look at it purely in monetary terms, piracy is probably a bigger problem in the United States than terrorism. Obviously, piracy rarely kills anyone, but in terms of murder, terrorism is not as significant a driver of tragedy in America as the US government would like you to think.

If you remember from all those piracy and P2P stories, most people say that police should rather be investigating real crimes like murder, rape and terrorism. Spam and piracy are both crimes, but I would think that most people think to those the same way. They're inconvenience or money lost, but they don't hurt people. If we go by monetary terms, I think piracy is a lot bigger problem.

Lets re-word the GP too...

They use whatever resources are needed to track down and bust the kidnappers, however long it takes. We need that kind of will in the fight against piracy. It is expensive at first, but less expensive as people get out of the business [and P2P sites and networks closed].

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (1)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859066)

Actually, if you look at it purely in monetary terms, piracy is probably a bigger problem in the United States than terrorism. Obviously, piracy rarely kills anyone, but in terms of murder, terrorism is not as significant a driver of tragedy in America as the US government would like you to think.

If you remember from all those piracy and P2P stories, most people say that police should rather be investigating real crimes like murder, rape and terrorism. Spam and piracy are both crimes, but I would think that most people think to those the same way. They're inconvenience or money lost, but they don't hurt people. If we go by monetary terms, I think piracy is a lot bigger problem.

Lets re-word the GP too...

They use whatever resources are needed to track down and bust the kidnappers, however long it takes. We need that kind of will in the fight against piracy. It is expensive at first, but less expensive as people get out of the business [and P2P sites and networks closed].

Except that piracy is generally not a crime. It's almost always a civil tort.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (1)

carp3_noct3m (1185697) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859484)

Anyone who uses the word piracy (as in IP) in the same sentence as terrorism, murder, or tragedy should be kicked off the interwebz. Oh crap, guess I have to go now, noooo{#`%${%&`+'${`%&NO CARRIER")

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (1)

Krahar (1655029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859638)

Most anything is a bigger problem than terrorism. The big problem is the public's response to terrorism, and not many things are a bigger problem than that.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858452)

While I don't wish to belittle the work of people who are literally saving lives, you do realise the only reason anybody's email account is even remotely usable is because all they have to do is "mash the delete key a few times"?

If your email address has been in the wild for any length of time, it's safe to assume that at least 90 spams are being discarded behind the scenes for every legitimate email you receive - and that's assuming the system in use is not very good at dealing with the risk of false positives and so errs on the side of letting things through.

I don't know of any organisation these days that doesn't put some level of spam filtering in place.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (3, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858516)

Yes, because the inconvenience of mashing the 'delete" key a few times is exactly comparable to the inconvenience of having a family member kidnapped and held against their will.

You have heard about scaling factors sometime during your education, haven't you?

A small crime done to millions sums up. The math has been done before. The "few seconds" times the amount of spam just one of the major spammers sends out in a month comes to easily an entire human lifetime.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (0, Troll)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858590)

The "few seconds" times the amount of spam just one of the major spammers sends out in a month comes to easily an entire human lifetime.

So does the time we spend idling in traffic. Your point?

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (2, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858724)

Traffic is a crime :-)

The difference is that in one case, someone is making a commercial profit off your expense. A spammer is essentially someone who steals half a cent from you and everyone else, every day. Sure, it's not much, but for him it adds up. And so does it for society as a whole. The damage to each individual is small, but to us all as a group, it is huge. Easily higher than a kidnapping.

Traffic jams, OTOH, are not something that someone has intentionally create in order to make a buck.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (3, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858196)

We need that kind of will in the fight against spam. It is expensive at first, but less expensive as people get out of the business.

The problem with your analogy is that kidnapping is a binary operation. You're either doing it or you're not. It's also often coupled with extortion and bodily harm and a host of other very serious crimes.

Spamming, on the other hand, is very hazy. What is unsolicited e-mail? People don't take the time to read shit. They just "click click oops, why am I getting these e-mail?" So if they clicked an ad and entered their e-mail address to get thirty thousand acres in farmwars by putting in their e-mail and checking a box that they understand ... where was the failure there?

I just got five messages in a minute from Boingo this weekend. Followed by an apology letter. It was some database template test process run amok that informed me about my account (which I don't have with them). I used them once in an airport. They apologized to me today in another e-mail I didn't ask for! Do we vigilantly hunt them down and jail them?

The problem with your vigilance is that it's often objective to draw the line where spamming stops and legitimate business e-mails start. The crimes that come with spam aren't on the level of human trafficking ... you get tax evasion or another white collar crime at best. Sometimes theft or grand larceny across all victims. But come on, the FBI isn't going to get the resources from the federal government to chase that rabbit down its hole when they need back hoes to dig up the whole internet.

The government's CanSPAM act has increased the severity of it when we're sure you were doing it. That's the most you can ask for ... not a special FBI initiative to relentlessly track everyone who spams. Enforcement should be increased but not to the level of tracking kidnappers.

Correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31858338)

The problem with your vigilance is that it's often objective to draw the line where spamming stops and legitimate business e-mails start.

Should read: "The problem with your vigilance is that it's often subjective to draw the line where spamming stops and legitimate business e-mails start."

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (2, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858478)

Spamming, on the other hand, is very hazy.

No, it is not.

Spammers try to make it appear hazy, but it isn't. 99.999999% of the spam volume is not from some overly zealous marketing temp who sends the company newsletter to a few more people than he should've. Pretty much all the spam you get is from address lists. You buy one of them to send those people mail, you fucking know that you're sending unsolicited mails.

The tiny fraction of mails that fall in the "you actually did sign in and forgot" category is so negliegable, you can ignore it for the general discussion. The only point where it ever comes in is if you want to define the line at "opt-in". That would be a very simple and elegant solution to the problem: $1000 fine per mail, payable to receiver unless you can produce evidence that he signed up for it. Of course, that's been discussed before and dumped due to the problem of collecting the money.

The problem with your vigilance is that it's often objective to draw the line where spamming stops and legitimate business e-mails start.

opt-in

If you send me advertisement that I didn't ask for, you are spamming. It is that simple.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (3, Interesting)

gtbritishskull (1435843) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858746)

I think it is pretty easy to differentiate between spam and not-spam. If the person sending the unsolicited mail tries to obfuscate how or from where they are sending the mail, then it is spam. If it is a company that clearly lists who they are, then they can be held liable (whether by being sued or by public opinion) for what they send out. There is no reason for law enforcement to get involved if the civil sector can sort it out. If, on the other hand, there is no reasonable way to trace the unsolicited email back to a person, they are trying to limit the ability of the civil sector to deal with them, so law enforcement should get involved.

But, that is just my opinion.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (4, Interesting)

Tom (822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858408)

Good point. The strategy was invented by the Romans, in case you care. The Roman Empire had a kind of primary objective on any and all sieges, namely that they win. No matter how long or what ressources it takes, there was the order from Rome that they will never leave defeated.

A famous mountain fort considered itself invulnerable due to natural features - there was only one small path up to the fortress. The romans built a big camp at the foot of the mountain and started building a ramp. It took them years to build it, but they did it, and took the invulnerable fortress.

That's why one day, when the roman army had just begun besieging another city, its ambassador came for talks, and he boasted "we have food for ten years". To which the romans replied "then we will accept your surrender in the eleventh". The next day, the city surrendered.

I'm telling that story because I like it a lot, but also because it shows that insane investment can pay off in the end. Yes, the romans poured ressources into a few sieges that were far beyond what they gained. But once the word had spread, the return-on-investment came.

There are two things we have to do to get rid of spam, minus the small amount you can never get rid off.

One is to make it very hard to make a profit via spam. A few simple laws could cover that. Going through the credit card companies would probably work great. Simply allow people a chargeback for any and all products sold via spam. All you have to do is send the spam message to the credit card company and ask for it. The CC company may not charge you. They don't want to pay for the trouble themselves, either. They will charge the merchant. That would pretty much eliminate all the non-working crap that's being sold via spam.

Two is to go absolutely anal on the spammers themselves. While #1 reduces the ROI, #2 increases the risk. Once you do that, the business case for being a spammer goes away. I don't necessarily mean higher penalties, but more effort in actually bringing them to justice, in an international effort.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858548)

I like the story too.

Could you, please, provide the necessary info for me to find a more detailed description of the facts? (forts and city names should be sufficient).

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (2, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858906)

Here is one [wikipedia.org] .

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858602)

I'm telling that story because I like it a lot, but also because it shows that insane investment can pay off in the end. Yes, the romans poured ressources into a few sieges that were far beyond what they gained. But once the word had spread, the return-on-investment came.

That's how I've been told bank robberies are managed. Spread among the criminals the idea that whoever robs a bank will be hunt down and killed, even if it's more expensive than the robbed money.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (1, Funny)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858666)

A few simple laws could cover that. Going through the credit card companies would probably work great. Simply allow people a chargeback for any and all products sold via spam. All you have to do is send the spam message to the credit card company and ask for it. The CC company may not charge you. They don't want to pay for the trouble themselves, either. They will charge the merchant. That would pretty much eliminate all the non-working crap that's being sold via spam.

Your post advocates a

( ) technical ( ) legislative (X) market-based ( ) vigilante

approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
( ) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
(X) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
( ) Users of email will not put up with it
( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
( ) The police will not put up with it
( ) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
( ) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
( ) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
(X) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

Specifically, your plan fails to account for

(X) Laws expressly prohibiting it
( ) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
( ) Open relays in foreign countries
( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
( ) Asshats
(X) Jurisdictional problems
( ) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
( ) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
( ) Extreme profitability of spam
( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
( ) Technically illiterate politicians
(X) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
( ) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
( ) Outlook

and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

( ) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever
been shown practical
( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
( ) Blacklists suck
( ) Whitelists suck
( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
(X) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
( ) Sending email should be free
( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
( ) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
( ) I don't want the government reading my email
( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

(X) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your
house down!

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (1)

Tom (822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858820)

The template reply is a lot more funny if the answers aren't checked randomly. To pick out just one:

(X) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money

So the CC company that he uses to be paid by his customers will be unable to find him?

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859258)

"better" answer we start locating the datacenters used cut the outbound network lines and then level the DC
(use Naval Gunfire or Bombers as required). And of course we would cut the outbound lines first to prevent switchover and then fire/drop warning round so that the folks can evac before the center goes up (or down as the case may be).

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859614)

The person sending the spam isn't necessary the same person selling the goods; and I very much doubt that Viagra companies pay spammers via credit card.

Also your idea wouldn't solve the spam issue. All it would do is provide a way for people to steal legitimate purchases the same way fraudsters used to do with ebay and paypal purchases.

So I buy a Samsung TV and get the credit card company to do a charge back because I got a newsletter or I forge some email myself?

Your idea is completely ridiculous, stop defending it.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859298)

I think a better analogy is the recreational drug trade. Like spam, there are a few vendors and many recipients. To combat the trade, as ill conceived as such efforts are, requires prosecution of the users and the vendors. Furthermore, it requires the suspension of constitutional rights of the vendors, as vendors may be deprived of personal property without due process. If we are to destroy spam, we must do the same thing

I think the analogy is valid at other levels. Like recreational drugs, people seem to have lost all sense of proportions. A single unsolicited email can make some people believe that they have been injured beyond all recourse. Some has used tainted their computer, used the bandwidth they paid for, to send a 20 KB message. Call out the FBI, send the CIA to the country, at any cost in terms of lives and tax payer money. We must stamp out this threat.

Of course, like drugs, some significant harm can come of spam. Some spam does contain payloads that can damage computers. Some spam can shut down servers. And the amount of spam does have a non trivial effect on costs to the consumer. But I wonder if part of the reaction to spam, like recreational drugs, is simply emotional. It is something we do not like, so it should not exist.

I think that if we concentrated on functional harm, and minimizing that function, rather than focusing so much on the potential, we might end up doing more good. Of course, like the pharmcos, google is going to feel harmed by any spam email, so it will of course insist that spam must be destroyed. But what is good for google is not neccesarily good for the world.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (1)

voodoo cheesecake (1071228) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858084)

Sounds like economic warfare to me.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (1)

Colonel Sponsz (768423) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858236)

Now, maybe he makes that two grand back in his push and maybe he don't. Maybe your new method reduced his clicks from five hundred to five per month. Either way the best we can hope is that at some point that income shrinks to negative or so little it's not worth his time. The problem is that even if 0.0001% of his spam messages generates a click, he's making bank.

Unfortunately, even if the income shrinks to negative or so little it's not worth the time, the spam will keep flowing - because someone will think that it's profitable. Besides, you're thinking too oldschool: a lone spammer using his own spamming farm. That hasn't been true in a long time; today's spammers rent capacity from botnets. Take one spammer down and those botnet owners will just keep rent out the capacity to new spammers looking to make a buck.
In fact, on the topic of profitability, I seem to recall reading that renting out botnets to spammers is much more lucrative than the actual spamming nowadays...

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (2, Interesting)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858394)

In fact, on the topic of profitability, I seem to recall reading that renting out botnets to spammers is much more lucrative than the actual spamming nowadays...

Yep... the spammers themselves are getting suckered just as much as the people they’re trying to sucker.

But as long as there’s another spammer who’s eager to make a quick buck, there will be people ready to rent him a few million cheap e-mail addresses and a botnet to send the spam with.

If you click on SPAM (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31858260)

"If you click on SPAM you will be summarily shot, at dawn, in front of your family."

Problem solved.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858518)

The battle for clean e-mail should be fought on a number of fronts. Public awareness is the key weak link in the chain in my opinion. And as a new net savvy generation arises, that will come naturally.

That is a good idea, but it won't solve the problem - or even make a huge dent in it - on its own. Even with the new "net savvy" users, there are still plenty of users (including new users) who are uninformed and don't want to be informed. There are still plenty of technophobes who are getting on the internet because junior's teacher wanted him to look something up on wikipedia. And when mommy and daddy are both technophobes, junior won't likely be that much different.

That said, you almost hit the correct angle of attack for spam. The correct link to hit is profit. You need to break the connection between the spammer and the people who are paying him. You also need to go after the people who the spammer is paying and make their lives difficult. The end result should be dramatically increasing the cost of doing business for the spammer, while simultaneously reducing the flow of money to him. As profit is the main motivation behind spam, this will do more to drive spammers away from spamming than anything else.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858708)

I'm just glad I get my email through GMail (Google Apps actually). Those accounts get as much spam as any of my other accounts but almost none of it reaches my inbox which I can't say for any of the other email services/servers/programs I use. Very few false positives these days either.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (1)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859020)

If you are successful at combating spam, you will see a rising volume. Here is the chain reaction that takes place:

  1. A spammer has an established source of income that he profits from his operations. Let's say it's ten grand a month. Everything is going well--he kicks back and watches watches the money machine.
  2. You implement a better spam blocking program or a better educate users or do something so that the five hundred clicks he gets a day drops to four hundred clicks a day.
  3. The spammer now finishes at eight grand at the end of the month and notices something is wrong.
  4. The spammer is certain that he can grab back those clicks and all he (did you ever notice how spammers are always men?) has to do is crank up the volume whether it be by getting more e-mails to spam or sending more frequent spams or revolutionizing his spamming tactic and adding new templates and variables to trick people or get around blocks.
  5. In the end we see spam rise.

Now, maybe he makes that two grand back in his push and maybe he don't. Maybe your new method reduced his clicks from five hundred to five per month. Either way the best we can hope is that at some point that income shrinks to negative or so little it's not worth his time. The problem is that even if 0.0001% of his spam messages generates a click, he's making bank. The battle for clean e-mail should be fought on a number of fronts. Public awareness is the key weak link in the chain in my opinion. And as a new net savvy generation arises, that will come naturally. No matter how much I tell my friends and family to be safe on the net, my friend in Cairo had ten credit cards opened in her name and I had to help her clean it up over here. To make sure it didn't happen again we went over smart procedures like if your bank sends you an e-mail you should read it and then open up your browser by hand and type in the bank's URL as you know it by hand and look for the corresponding information on the site. Yeah, it's a pain in the ass but if you can't find it you can always just call them. Don't click the e-mail link and drop your username and password into some site you don't trust. If I had to guess how she got tripped up, it was when she went to Cairo for school she couldn't afford to talk on the phone and had gotten lazy and careless with doing all her banking online.

That's why spam has become an arms race, an exchange of measures and countermeasures. The only real solution is to get the word out and equip the average Internet user to identify spam and understand why it should never be responded to. That would remove the profits from the spammers and force them out of business. Then and only then will the spam problem end.

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859026)

  1. A spammer has an established source of income that he profits from his operations. Let's say it's ten grand a month. Everything is going well--he kicks back and watches watches the money machine.
  2. You implement a better spam blocking program or a better educate users or do something so that the five hundred clicks he gets a day drops to four hundred clicks a day.
  3. The spammer now finishes at eight grand at the end of the month and notices something is wrong.
  4. The spammer is certain that he can grab back those clicks and all he (did you ever notice how spammers are always men?) has to do is crank up the volume whether it be by getting more e-mails to spam or sending more frequent spams or revolutionizing his spamming tactic and adding new templates and variables to trick people or get around blocks.
  5. In the end we see spam rise.

Excellent analysis, and the solution is clear: we all need to start reading all our SPAM and buying the products, then we'll get less SPAM and it won't be such a problem. Genius!

Re:If One Person Clicks, We All Lose (1)

plover (150551) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859168)

This description is from the spam merchant's POV, not the spammer who operates the spamming equipment. The merchant wants to get his message out to X people. The spam operators charge money per address.

What'll happen here is the spam operators will find it more difficult to operate in conditions of continual crackdowns. Taking down a 100,000 bot net does not suddenly create 10 10,000 bot networks. The laws of supply and demand will kick in, meaning the price-per-address will rise. And spammers are going to be impacted by price.

What about... (2, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857966)

...the amount of spam that actually makes it to an inbox, instead of being dumped into a junk folder or blocked outright?

Re:What about... (4, Insightful)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858008)

It still has to travel thru email servers & routers costing money via electrical & bandwidth costs.

Re:What about... (3, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858080)

It still has to travel thru email servers & routers costing money via electrical & bandwidth costs.

Aren't people around here rather fond of making the claim that bandwidth doesn't cost money, at least whenever we see a story pop up about some ISP wanting to impose caps or metered billing?

The bandwidth and electrial costs of spam are negligible. You would have made a better argument by pointing out the lost productivity when humans need to divert time away from useful tasks to clean out their inbox.

Re:What about... (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858218)

I don't think anyone claims that bandwidth doesn't cost money.

My guess is you're referring to articles where telecom giants try to get a company like Google to pay for transferring their content. In those instances people here argue that Google has already paid and the consumer has paid their ISP too so why should the ISP company get extra money for nothing.

Re:What about... (4, Informative)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858322)

Network bandwidth taken by emails is indeed nearly free -- a typical piece of spam is just around 5KB (median). Yet, with more and more complex processing needed to run spam filters, you need quite a bit of CPU to weed them out. Looking at my logs, SpamAssassin runs are around 8 seconds each. Part of that time is spent for DNS queries, but there's a number of CPU-intensive tests as well.

And servers are certainly not free.

Re:What about... (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858756)

Somewhat funny.. the biggest cost to our company is that we exceed our DNS query limit frequently on one of our domains (I dunno why it gets picked.) and it's always people hitting it from China or someplace unlikely like that. Our web servers don't get that many visitors from China so I have to suspect it's spam. I need to fight with Ultra DNS over just blocking those hits instead of charging me for them. We should all just cut China off the net IMO until they fix their issues.

Re:What about... (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859174)

Your host charges you for DNS hits? That's absurd.

Re:What about... (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858104)

I was referring more to how much spam blocking technology has increased compared to the increase in spam volume...

Re:What about... (1)

archmcd (1789532) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858332)

This sort of spam-blocking activity clogs up the tubes, causing other materials to back up, or have to find another less efficient series of tubes to traverse. Someone still has to erase all those internets to keep the tubes clear.

Re:What about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31858436)

spamd [openbsd.org] with tarpitting: reduce any bandwidth/power costs to next to nothing.

Re:What about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31858100)

That amount has steadily gone down over the last several years to the point that between my comcast account, gmail account, live mail account, and work exchange account I only see (in the inbox) about 2 spam notes per month. The others are captured by one filter or another (ISP, SMTP one at work in front of Exchange, Outlook 2007 itself). As an end user, SPAM is not a problem anymore at all. (I know it is still a real problem for system administrators, network folks, etc. - but from the point of view of me: the idiot behind the keyboard - it isn't an issue).

Re:What about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31858712)

"- but from the point of view of me: the idiot behind the keyboard - it isn't an issue)."

Not yet, per-se. But - it can be a serious issue over time. (Here comes another car analogy! Duck and cover!) It's like the idiots who don't know how to merge on a highway. One or two don't present a major issue. Flow continues in the other lanes with relatively no problem. Think of the merge and right lanes as the servers where the spam is forced through. They have a hiccup in the flow. Minor. The end users in the left-most, or HOV lane(s) don't notice, couldn't possibly care any less, and continue on their merry way. No harm, no foul.

Fast forward a decade. That very same exit with one or two idiots who don't know how to merge had a town explode with growth into a city. Now you have 30-50 of idiots that don't know how to merge. People in the right lane are jumping into the middle lane to avoid a serious traffic incident. People in the middle lane jump into the left lane to pass up the slow-moving person who's just come over from the right lane, and the people in the left lane have to slow down because they were just cut off by the person in the middle lane that was forced to jump over. Chain reaction which causes a traffic slowdown to ripple backward during rush hour until ultimately people seem to be stopping for no reason at all.

But there is a reason. The reason is the sheer volume of idiots that don't know how to merge onto a highway. A tiny problem that's of no consequence to the end user (HOV/left lane driver) at a given time has suddenly caused 1+ hour traffic jams for hundreds, or even thousands of drivers despite the low number of those who can't merge.

Same crap with spam. One or two get through, no big deal. You can handle that. Anybody with half a brain can handle that. A couple hundred in the filtered "spam" box. Still no big deal, you hit "empty spam" and it's gone. But what of that server all of that spam is stored on? Yeah - SysAdmins can implement "Auto-delete" rules and what-not, but eventually, that spam will still start to fill up valuable drive space that could be used to expand the size of your inbox for legitimate e-mails. Your storage space is being limited as a result of these useless "V!@gra" ads. Doesn't seem that bad, because hard drive space is becoming cheaper and cheaper over time. No big deal, until you realize spam uses 30% of all bandwidth dedicated to e-mail. In a large corporate environment, this could add up to a hell of a lot of bandwidth disappearing to the dark pit of scum that is spam.

On top of the immediately visible direct issues, spam causes a whole host of other issues, including... you guessed it... that controversial "global climate change" topic. A study performed by McAfee about a year ago showed that the sheer volume of spam uses enough electricity to power 2.4 million average US homes. The researchers calculated the average CO2 emissions for a single spam message to 0.3 grams, or the same as driving one meter in an average car. Now add that up to all of the spam messages being pushed around the 'net. The carbon footprint of my little traffic jam analogy above suddenly is dwarfed by the carbon emissions caused by spam. The number of spam e-mails sent in 2008 equalled 62 TRILLION. To put that into perspective with the carbon footprint, I'll quote Richi Jennings from the study:

"Globally, the annual spam energy use is 33 billion kilowatt-hours, or 33 TWh - that's as much electricity as 2.4 million U.S. homes use, with the same greenhouse gas emissions as 3.1 million passenger cars using 2 billion U.S. gallons of gasoline."

Methinks the numbers speak for themselves as to why we should hunt down and eliminate spammers like the scum they are. :)

Re:What about... (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858186)

...the amount of spam that actually makes it to an inbox, instead of being dumped into a junk folder or blocked outright?

I don't see much spam in my inbox, but I occasionally get lots of backscatter in my inbox - maybe 10 messages a day for a week, and then nothing for a few months.

1 : 10.000 (1)

thijsh (910751) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858192)

In this regard Google is awesome... I get 1 spam message per month in my mailbox tops, but my spam box (which keeps the spam for 30 days) has over 10.000 spam messages in it. So only one in every 10.000 spam messages slips trough at maximum.

Still important to the count (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859656)

...the amount of spam that actually makes it to an inbox, instead of being dumped into a junk folder or blocked outright?

That spam is, at the very least, equally as costly as spam that makes it to the inbox. Sure, it uses less of the users' time, but it still takes CPU time, network bandwidth, and storage (somewhere).

People who rely on their filters (or similar practices) upstream of their inbox to deal with the spam problem often overlook that very important point. That is part of why filters will never be the real solution to the spam problem.

spam will be with us forever (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858130)

constantly fighting it is just one of those maintenance functions of civilization

you don't declare a war on spam, win it, and then spam is forever gone. thats not the nature of the problem. its forever reborn as some "brilliant idea" in the mind of some asshole out there who has no problem abusing the commons for selfish gain. it requires constant eradication. additionally, you can't completely automate the process of spam destruction. spam is created by creative human beings. human beings always find away around any locked door. and therefore it will require the constant effort of creative human beings dedicated to police work to forever fight these other creative beings who have no decency. that's just the way it is. its stasis: good guys versus bad guys, forever

the same applies to hard core drug addicts, pedophilia, terrorism, etc: you don't declare war on terrorism, pedophilia, or hard core drugs, win it, and then those phenomena are gone forever. thats not the nature of those problems. they will always be low grade problems that always reassert themselves. unless you stop fighting them: in which case they metastasize into worse problems

as long as civilization exists, certain classes of utterly intolerable problems (problems that you cannot in any way reclassify as tolerable problems) will continually reassert themselves in every generation, and, for the sake of the health of society, require constant hard effort to simply keep them as low grade issues that don't expand into worse problems

Re:spam will be with us forever (0, Troll)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858182)

you don't declare a war on spam, win it, and then spam is forever gone

Why not? It worked on drugs, terrorism, obesity and poverty.

Re:spam will be with us forever (1)

plover (150551) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858360)

you don't declare a war on spam, win it, and then spam is forever gone

Why not? It worked on drugs, terrorism, obesity and poverty.

What are you, some kind of fat, poor, scary junkie?

Hey, wait a minute. I know some people like that.

next time (0, Troll)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858796)

read the rest of my fucking comment past the first sentence, then respond. because i already address what you write

Re:next time (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859210)

Whoosh!

Re:spam will be with us forever (0, Troll)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858298)

the same applies to hard core drug addicts

I agree with everything you said, except this. Please note that addicts are not the problem; violent dealers and a black market are the problem. Eradicate the black market and the dealers by legalizing and regulating it, and you will find much of the violence and crime associated with the substances will go away.

Last time I checked, there weren't roving gangs fighting over turf so they could sell Heineken on the back streets of inner cities...they just open a beer store.

i am for the legalization of marijuana (0, Offtopic)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858612)

also hallucinogens like lsd, psilocybin, etc

basically, these drugs should be legal:

1. highly addictive but noninebriating (nicotine, etc)
2. nonaddictive but highly inebriating (lsd, etc)
3. mildly to moderately addictive and mildly to moderately inebriating (alcohol, marijuana etc)

these drugs should never be legal:

4. highly addictive AND highly inebriating

why? because drugs like this (heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, etc) means your normal thoughts are replaced by a zombielike monomania that puts you in a stupor in which you cannot hold a job and/ or maintain a relationship

then you become a ward of the state, and society has to take care of you. this is the point at which society has every right to stop you from using a drug: unlike all statements to the contrary, drug use is obviously NOT a personal choice that effects no one else: society have to take care of the homeless and foodless drug addicts. this gives us the additional right to (attempt) to control the distribution of substances that zombify, to not completely end the distribution, but at least keep it low grade

why? simply because exposure to some substances, like heroin/ meth/ coke, simply means you create more zombies. that is, unbridled distribution leads to more demand: use metastasizes. yes, some will alwyas bet the drugs they want, but apart from these hardcore types hellbent on personal destruction, there's a whole class of potential/ existing users who would not exist if they simply were never exposed to these drugs

yes: the drug war has plenty of negatives, like the creation of violence, mafia, untrustworthy supply, avoidant behavior by addicts, etc. and for a lot of drugs, these prohibition type effects argue for legalization. however, some few drugs are so viral (in that low grade social exposure can lead to addiction and zombiehood) that, even with all of the negative prohibition effects you and i understand, the spread of those highly addictive/ highly inebriating drugs is STILL worse in terms of destroyed lives than prohibition

Re:i am for the legalization of marijuana (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858782)

Drugs like Meth, Coke, etc shouldn't be legal for the very reasons you outline...but the users of those substances shouldn't be treated like criminals either.

Rehabilitate the users, imprison the dealers.

That being said, I think "designer drugs" aren't too far off in our future (2-3 decades at the most). Think about it...pharmaceutical companies already develop a huge number of different substances...so why not synthesized drugs made for a specific experience?

I certainly wouldn't take them, but I know plenty of people who would.

agreed 100% (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859234)

recognizing that the drug war will be on forever does not mean we have to accept tactics that don't work

its supply and demand

demand should be rehabilitated, like a health or psychological problem, not criminalized

and supply should be hit hard, criminalized harshly

Re:i am for the legalization of marijuana (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859338)

Rehabilitate the users, imprison the dealers.

For facts showing that it works: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1893946,00.html [time.com]
One of the few things we can be proud of :)

That being said, I think "designer drugs" aren't too far off in our future (2-3 decades at the most). Think about it...pharmaceutical companies already develop a huge number of different substances...so why not synthesized drugs made for a specific experience?

Well, if they enable us to travel in time [wikipedia.org] , I'd take it!

Re:spam will be with us forever (1)

voodoo cheesecake (1071228) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858432)

What you are basically describing is criminal behaviour. To make it "low grade" you must understand what it truly is - gaining power through lies and/ or intimidation. Then you confront it. The greatest weapon of the fascist is the tolerance of the pacifist.

Re:spam will be with us forever (1)

DoctorFuji (1331807) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858564)

Your answer makes me think a good analogy is junk mail. I don't request any junk mail, but it shows up in my snail mail box regularly. Junk mailers have the same modus operandi... send it out in volumes and bank that a tiny percentage will respond. I don't think that junk mail or unsolicited ad mailers will ever go away.. its part of the "system".

its a constant war, here's some ammunition for you (0, Troll)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858690)

http://www.41pounds.org/ [41pounds.org]

this site is a way to globally tell junk mailers to fuck off

onwards goes the eternal arms race

Re:spam will be with us forever (0, Troll)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859076)

I said it before and I'll say it again: It's all Microsoft's fault. Thanks to the Microsoft swisscheese security model, millions of computers are turned to zombies which in turn send the spam.

Microsoft could very well give free upgrades with improved security models for old boxes - but OH NO, PIRACY! GASP! We must not give the benefit of a secure operating system to those damned overseas pirates!

Thanks to the "genuine advantage" scam, XP users are skipping Microsoft upgrades rather than having to deal with Big Brother taking control of their computers.

Meanwhile, botnets are roaming around the world, running in infected XP machines while their users are oblivious to the fact. How to solve that? Users think that by purchasing antiviruses the problem will be fixed. It's as if botnets and antiviruses formed a very well-thought ecosystem, with the antiviruses relying on the viruses' threat to survive.

Fix the security of the machines, and both will disappear: Botnets will become more and more scarse, and antiviruses will become redundant and disappear for lack of use. Sadly, that doesn't go well with Microsoft struggling to sell us more and more versions of Windows. If Microsoft comes with its own antivirus, antivirus companies will sue.

Spam will not be over until it becomes unprofitable for Microsoft and the antivirus companies to have all those zombies running in the wild. That will only happen if spam quantity becomes exceedingly high. But that won't happen because of the bandwidth costs. The outcome is that spam will increase slowly, as bandwidth costs become lower, and that people will still find it tolerable, as long as they pay for an OS with a slightly improved security and the mandatory antivirus.

For now, all we can do is educate people on spam, botnets, and contribute with our grain of sand by switching to a more secure OS.

Re:spam will be with us forever (1)

kangsterizer (1698322) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859498)

actually you "can". you ditch current email and use an account/certificate based messaging system, where you have to allow peers to contact you (like IM). Then you only receive the spam you've allowed send to send to you.

Worse case, you get spammed by requests, easy to ignore when it's a single case, and will be tracked down and shutdown when its a mass attack, because it will disrupt the system like a DoS would, unlike current spam where you dont *have* to stop it

Now, the quotes on "can" are there because no company is willing to ditch email as it is.

which is of course bullshit (1, Troll)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859662)

because people are constantly getting emails from people they never got email from before, and they WANT that functionality, for a million reasons, from registering for a site to getting a query from an old classmate to getting a reply from a stranger about a blog post

the whitelisting you describe is obviously not the solution

LOL (1, Interesting)

Zoidbot (1194453) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858132)

90% of the spam on my forum is from Gmail accounts...

Anecdotal evidence (1)

Nighttime (231023) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858220)

Going by the rolling 30 day spam folder on my Gmail account, I've currently got 167 spam emails in there. Last year, it was regularly rolling along at 800+.

Re:Anecdotal evidence (1)

el_tedward (1612093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858594)

Can I ask how often you give out your address/how long you've had your account? I had my account for 3 or 4 years and usually don't get more than 30 spam messages accumulated in my spam box.

Re:Anecdotal evidence (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858706)

I had my account for 3 or 4 years and usually don't get more than 30 spam messages accumulated in my spam box.

I've had my account for at least 3 years I'm currently at 679. I've maybe given the address out to less than ten family members.

But my email address contains my name, which is quite common. When I ran servers, I would see guess attempts at email addresses every day (every 10 minutes, really) in the logs, so I would imagine the more common your name/email address, the more spam you're going see.

Re:Anecdotal evidence (1)

Nighttime (231023) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859398)

I've had my Gmail account since 2003. Used it a few times when posting to Usenet via Google Groups. I've also used it to subscribe to a couple of mailing lists, which don't mask email addresses for their public archives.

collateral damage (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858240)

I've felt the pain of this battle myself. I moved to a new host, and Google rejected every message sent by my mail server as being spam. They redirected me to their "bulk email policy," which is absurd. My server has never sent anything even remotely similar to bulk email. I spent days jumping through Google's hoops (by enabling SPF, etc.) and their mail server started ACCEPTING mail from my server at least, but it still routes it all to the Spams folder in GMail.

The worst part is that Google doesn't even list a phone number I could contact to get their fuckup fixed.

The big mail operators, like Google, have the power to sabotage any small business or start-up, and we have no recourse. I can't wait to see the first lawsuits against Google or Microsoft for libel following false spam accusations like this causing real monetary damages to businesses.

Re:collateral damage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31858356)

Or you can just stop sending spam. Nobody wants your mail, really, we don't.

Re:collateral damage (3, Insightful)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858420)

Sounds like you switched to a less-than-reputable host...

Re:collateral damage (1)

el_tedward (1612093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858626)

Doesn't have to be a non-reputable host necessarily, could just be a host that happens to have a lot of botnet members.

Re:collateral damage (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858636)

If they were up to snuff they’d do something about that.

Re:collateral damage (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858702)

I am not sharing my IP address with anyone else. Google is inarguably falsely implicating my mail server as being a spam source.

I can't afford a lawyer yet, but it is only a matter of time until someone a little bigger runs into this problem.

Re:collateral damage (3, Insightful)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859018)

Contact your host, or switch. It isn’t Google’s fault if you signed up for a host which got its entire IP range blacklisted by allowing its customers to send spam and ignoring the subsequent spam complaints. I’m not saying that’s definitely what happened, but there’s a good likelihood it’s exactly what happened.

It’s unreasonable to expect Google to start white-listing customers from a sleazy host on an individual basis. Screening customers is the host’s job and they failed; now they got blacklisted and all their customers suffer. Yell at the hosting company, not Google. If enough of their customers leave because they aren’t cracking down on the spammers, they’ll suddenly realise that not doing anything about the spam is hurting them economically just as much as terminating a few spamming customers would. And if they don’t realise this, or if it wouldn’t... that isn’t the sort of host you want to be associated with.

FAILZORS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31858306)

It's all about the Benjamins... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858422)

As long as spammers can continue to make money through spam, they will continue to send out more spam. You can filter all you want, you won't do shit to reduce the volume until you address the motivation behind the spam itself.

Re:It's all about the Benjamins... (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858700)

As long as spammers can continue to make money through spam, they will continue to send out more spam. You can filter all you want, you won't do shit to reduce the volume until you address the motivation behind the spam itself.

Worse yet, the business model ensures this is the case.

Business needs marketing, so they pay $100 for a million spams. Spammer takes $100, sends out million spams. Spammer gets $100 from next business and so on ad naseum.

It doesn't matter if the guy paying the spammer gets $100 worth of marketing, or if 999,999 of those emails he sent out were blocked at the firewall. Spammer got his $100, so he's happy. It's the business's problem that they paid $100 for such a "marketing" campaign that didn't generate much, if anything.

So spam volumes rise, but I doubt the number hitting mailboxes is - they just got paid for sending the email out, and businesses that pay for the service just assume it had a bad ROI. But the people being spammed aren't the spammer's customers, it's the business purchasing the service.

Anti-Spam Networks (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858456)

I don't know why the superior resources of spam recipients aren't harnessed to overwhelm spammers and their spam.

Whenever a message is identified as spam, either by a server or by a recipient, that message should be registered in a database network shared among servers and recipients. Then all those servers and recipients in the network should automatically identify that message as spam.

The automarking should also mark messages very similar as spam. And the "votes" from immediate identifiers should count towards some metric that each server and recipient compares to some "confidence" in the network's accuracy. And whenever a message marked as spam is marked as "not spam", that vote should count.

Combine that system with default whitelisting, so only messages from known trusted senders are immediately shown, while unknown senders automatically put in a separate inbox and automarked spam in a separate spam box for review (and setting them as spam / not spam updating the message and sender's spam status).

With the 99.999999% of email users who are not spammers using that straightforward system, spammers would be overwhelmed. Their cost of spamming would exceed their revenue, since so little spam would get through - to only people who mostly aren't together enough to buy whatever the spam is advertising. Successful spammers would have to invest a large amount of money in a relatively large organization to get back small profits. Which would make them much more easily catchable by the FBI and other cops.

Bill Gates? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31858472)

I thought Bill Gates was supposed to eliminate spam?

pointless spam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31858536)

What's the point of a spam message like this:
"-_ Viagra @ 34.0 #7k,9,."

Even if I wanted some viagra, this wouldn't help, maybe links were striped somewhere..

Re:pointless spam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31858910)

The internet became sentient somewhere in the early nineties and has been trying to learn English since then. Given the quality of content generated by the netizens, though, it has only learned to babble gibberish so far. That's why.

There's actually a proven solution ... (1)

slb (72208) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858854)

... designed by Blue Security [wikipedia.org] , but shutdown by the spammers themselves. If only Google would put his strengh on such a venture, spam would die.

Re:There's actually a proven solution ... (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859324)

Wouldn't that be a proven non-solution, since it was shutdown by the spammers?

How can this be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31858868)

Mr. Gates predicted that spam would stop being a problem by 2006. What gives? Anyway, I use my own mail server and my own little domain (which I am getting for free from some DNS provider) and the amount of spam I am getting is exactly nothing. Spammers will go after the gmail.com, hotmail.com, yahoo.com email addresses world over, but of course just ignore my teeny weeny personal domain. Spam-free life is good.

The only way it's going away ... (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858916)

The only way you'll ever see email spam or any other highly irritating marketing ploy go away is if it stops be profitable. And email spam is pretty damn cheap for the people pumping it out.

Spam hit a legibility critical mass (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859136)

All of the obvious spam messages that seem to have a practical chance of garnering hits is getting detected now. The only way to get through is to use some obfuscated content that a reader is much more likely to either detect as spam or so obscure that the email doesn't interest the reader. I can't imagine the spam business is very good anymore.

GDSA (1)

lazarus (2879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31859260)

The following is a variant of greylisting. You can comment on it from your soapbox if you wish but I've been running it for about three years now and it works great. I put it together for my own use and I have no desire to document it, support it, or in any way promote it. I'm posting it here because I'm tiring of hearing people whine about spam. It uses Exim and mysql to get around some of the inherent limitations of greylisting as it was originally defined (specifically the mandatory "delay" in receiving e-mail from a new source and the requirement to roll-up large senders (like google) into an IP range. Everything is automatic and I don't have problems with mail delays.

Let me be clear. I don't care if you like it or not, or use it or not. It's just data if you want it or are interested.

I've thrown the rest of my posting into a journal entry [slashdot.org] as Slashdot nixed my posting here with "Filter error: Please use fewer 'junk' characters." Seems as though Slashdot is making comments about my coding abilities... This is already more effort than I was hoping for.

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