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One Man's Fight Against Forum Spam

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the heroes-and-villians dept.

Spam 245

JWSmythe writes "Free Internet Press has an interview with 'Random Digilante,' an anonymous hacker who has been taking over forum spammers' email accounts, and notifying forum operators to delete those accounts. It looks like his reasoning is sound, and his methods are safe, where he won't hurt any real users."

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Illegal (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33795978)

No matter your reason, it's illegal to access other peoples email accounts without their permission. Even more so when you disable the accounts.

If you do what you want based on what you feel is right, we might just not have any laws at all. There is a reason why the laws are created by the society as whole and not a single person or a group with single interest.

Re:Illegal (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33796020)

Deal with it.

Re:Illegal (5, Informative)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796048)

He’s thought of that already, and seems to have his case made. RTFA.

RD: If I were taking over an account that was created by a human being who actually cared to contribute to my forums, yes that would be illegal.

FIP: Are you concerned about the possible legal consequences of your actions?

RD: Here is the reasoning I use, and I know that a lot of people argue it.
Especially now that I have a few dedicated forums whose only reason for existing is that they capture the login credentials of forum spammers, my feeling is that they're not people, they're robots. Xrumer [a forum spamming software] is a 100% automated process. The human has to set up the email address where the responses get sent for things like confirming your account by clicking on a link, but everything after that is done by the software. No human being is harmed by what I do, only a piece of software. If they cared, they would pay attention to the fact that these accounts are getting taken over very regularly by me. They don't. They just set up new accounts and start over.

It's hard to feel "bad" about taking these accounts over. All I can tell you is that I have never taken over any account that was not very obviously being solely used repeatedly to auto-register to forums. In fact by the time I get to them it's obvious that the spammer only set them up from 1 - 6 days prior to me taking it over. There are no human-written messages in any of these accounts. I certainly would not have gone so public with this activity if there had been. Only purely automated messaging has ever been present in any of these, and I have enough hard data to back that up.

Basically he claims that since a robot registered the e-mail accounts, you aren’t infringing on any person’s rights.

I doubt that it’d fly, actually, but who knows.

Re:Illegal (1, Interesting)

corbettw (214229) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796250)

That's not at all what he's claiming. He's claiming that since a robot is operating the account, and he disagrees with the motivation behind the running of that robot, it's OK for him to hack into someone else's account. He even admits that a human being has to initially open the mail account before turning on the software to run it.

I dislike people who have their POP clients set to download email every minute and process it using filters to put any email from me into a special folder. Does that give me the right to then hack their email accounts and take them over? Using the logic RD outlined above, it very much does. Which should show just how spurious his logic is.

There's a reason why your mother taught you that two wrongs don't make a right. The world would be a better place if more people remembered that.

Re:Illegal (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33796290)

There's a reason why your mother taught you that two wrongs don't make a right. The world would be a better place if more people remembered that.

Proof?

Re:Illegal (4, Interesting)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796336)

Well, his other point was, who’s going to complain? the robot?

Chances are the human operator doesn’t even know what happened to the account, the robot just flags it as deactivated and asks the human to feed it more accounts. They probably don’t have any way of telling that somebody hacked the account and closed it vs. e-mailing the e-mail provider and having it shut down properly.

Of course the main question (in my mind, at least) is why spammers are registering forum accounts with the same password they used to register the junk e-mail account that they’re registering under...

Re:Illegal (2, Funny)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796494)

There is an easy fix for this. In his forum's usage agreement he needs to add a line stating that if he detects you are running a spambot he has the right to hack your account & disable it. Problem solved.

Re:Illegal (3, Interesting)

gorzek (647352) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796904)

But he is doing this on other people's sites. Including mine, coincidentally. I already have spam filtering methods in place. Spambots can register but they can't do much of anything. I "trap" them quite effectively.

I'm rather annoyed that he is breaking into spambot accounts on my site and sending me messages to deactivate their accounts. I don't need to deactivate their accounts--they are well-contained already. His "helpful" messages wind up being a greater irritant to me than the spambots themselves. I don't need you to tell me how to run my site, thanks.

Re:Illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33797184)

QQ

Re:Illegal (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796858)

The world would be a better place if we had a justice system instead of a legal system. Until that day....Fuck the spammers and destroy the bots.

Re:Illegal (2, Insightful)

Bobfrankly1 (1043848) | more than 3 years ago | (#33797112)

I dislike people who have their POP clients set to download email every minute and process it using filters to put any email from me into a special folder. Does that give me the right to then hack their email accounts and take them over? Using the logic RD outlined above, it very much does. Which should show just how spurious his logic is.

The POP using people you describe are taking their email and sorting it how they want to within their own mailbox. You may not like it, but it's their space.
The forum spammers you're comparing them to use their e-mail address and software with the sole purpose of invading his website, which he pays real money for, and spends time maintaining, and which other people use to have conversations. The spammers further use this software to stuff his website with ads for pills, child porn, and other nastiness. This slows down his server (due to the load of fake accounts registering and posting) and can make his forums unreadable, driving away users. If his forums use ads, driving away users means a monetary loss

Your comparison is invalid, and your attempt at logic is laughable. They broke into his property, he kicked them out and took away their crowbar, which they signed up for under false pretenses.

Civil Disobedience is often right (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 3 years ago | (#33797212)

"There's a reason why your mother taught you that two wrongs don't make a right."

Unfortunately, your Mother's clever saying presumes that the second act is a wrong. Since this discussion is about if it is in fact wrong or not, your presumption is unfounded. Bear in mind that doing something illegal is not necessarily wrong. In fact, my good friend Henry David Thoreau wrote an excellent essay [eserver.org] arguing that, in many cases, violating the law is in fact the only "Right" thing you can do.

Re:Illegal (0)

Krau Ming (1620473) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796294)

he is Rick Dekard.

Re:Illegal (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796302)

Clearly - the best way for him to get around this legal debacle, is to take the breaking into and shutting down process and make it into a simple shell script.

With Robots fighting robots, he's not actually breaking into the accounts, they aren't actually registering, and its all fair game. And then when people claim that they were in fact the ones registering the accounts, they can stand before the court with 2000+ charges against the CAN-SPAM act.

Re:Illegal (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33796532)

And then when people claim that they were in fact the ones registering the accounts, they can stand before the court with 2000+ charges against the CAN-SPAM act.

CAN-SPAM was quite specific to email spam, this guy is dealing with forum spam, which in and of itself is actually legal (although some of the content of those spam messages might not be).

Re:Illegal (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796786)

Here's a historical lesson in automated spam-fighting in the ancient equivalent of fora:

http://catb.org/jargon/html/A/ARMM.html [catb.org]

I was reading USENET a lot at the time of the Depew incident. Newsgroups were pretty much unusable for nearly a month, and yucky for months after that.

Re:Illegal (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#33797044)

and it has since been widely cited as a cautionary example of the havoc the combination of good intentions and incompetence can wreak on a network

That's about all I needed to read from the link. Emphasis Mine.

Re:Illegal (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 3 years ago | (#33797174)

Keeping in mind that most people of us are less competent than we think we are, it's an especially good warning. :)

Re:Illegal (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796478)

Somewhat make me remember irc bots (or more recently, google wave bots), where some where spammers, some don't. Putting them all into the same bag darkens a bit that gray area. Somewhat a rightful use of automated tools became quicksand because spammers can use it too.

Re:Illegal (2, Funny)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796842)

he claims that since a robot registered the e-mail accounts, you aren’t infringing on any person’s rights.

I doubt that it’d fly, actually, but who knows.

Oh, it certainly wouldn't fly with Jean-Luc Picard, that's for sure.

Re:Illegal (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33796064)

He says it's "a legal gray area".

Can you say specifically what laws he has broken, and in what jurisdiction?

It's not very clear to me exactly what he did, so I'm on the fence as to whether he committed a crime.

In order for me to say he committed a crime, I need to know very specifically what law was broken and what evidence supports the accusation. Generally, my standard for evidence is an approximation of the federal rules of evidence, but I am not very strict about it.

Re:Illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33796174)

He says it's "a legal gray area".

Can you say specifically what laws he has broken, and in what jurisdiction?

It's not very clear to me exactly what he did, so I'm on the fence as to whether he committed a crime.

In order for me to say he committed a crime, I need to know very specifically what law was broken and what evidence supports the accusation. Generally, my standard for evidence is an approximation of the federal rules of evidence, but I am not very strict about it.

See, see there... you're asking the whiner to substantiate what he's whining about. That might happen but it's extremely unlikely.

Re:Illegal (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33796272)

Unauthorized Access is against the law in quite a few juristictions.

Re:Illegal (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33796634)

You're right - and the *machine* accessing the forum *IS* unauthorized access. Where's the cops busting down the doors of the spammers running the bots?

Warrantless wiretaps are illegal too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33796988)

Warrantless wiretaps are illegal in many jurisdictions too. This doesn't seem to be a problem.

Likewise, bugging someone's home, ESPECIALLY a child, with video cameras is illegal, but a school having done so still seems to be At Large.

Re:Illegal (2, Interesting)

qwijibo (101731) | more than 3 years ago | (#33797028)

As a juror, I would have a hard time voting to convict a person for such an offense. There is very little you can do legally against spammers, so just as the legal system turns a blind eye to their actions, there's nothing wrong with doing the same to vigilantes going after them.

Re:Illegal (1)

Bobfrankly1 (1043848) | more than 3 years ago | (#33797176)

Unauthorized Access is against the law in quite a few juristictions.

The only issue there is by suing "RD", they would be identifying themselves and making themselves an easy target for a return lawsuit. It's a stalemate.

Re:Illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33797078)

    Well, it's impossible to say if he or she has broken any laws. No one knows what jurisdiction applies. The interview was done in English (assume he didn't use a translator), so lets say that we limit it to countries that have English speakers (native or otherwise) Oh. That's every country. I wouldn't want to be the one figuring out jurisdictional laws for 1.8 billion people, spread out over every country.

Re:Illegal (5, Interesting)

Quothz (683368) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796202)

If you do what you want based on what you feel is right, we might just not have any laws at all. There is a reason why the laws are created by the society as whole and not a single person or a group with single interest.

So, just as an analogy, if the police decided to stop enforcing laws against auto theft, you believe it would be wrong for others to do so. I don't think that holds water. What this guys is doing is indeed illegal, but not immoral; when our government is unwilling or unable to enforce or prosecute laws it becomes incumbent upon non-sanctioned individuals to protect society by doing so. The simple fact is that the government is not able to even begin to scratch the sheer volume of spam, nor is it interested in going after spammers unless it can wrench a large settlement and some headlines out of the deal. If we wish to preserve the Internet as a medium for the exchange of ideas, some of us must take action to protect it from those who exploit it at a very real, monetary cost to innocent people.

Re:Illegal (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796332)

And that action should go through the boxes in the correct order without skipping any. Jumping right to the 'ammo' box isn't the right way to do things in a lawful society.

Re:Illegal (1)

xenn (148389) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796772)

I believe you are not correct all of the time. In certain circumstances it is commendable for the populace to stand up for itself in lieu of assumed protection, toward currently post-useful statutes.

Indeed, it is my duty.

Re:Illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33796890)

If a machine starts acting up, you unplug it. That's all he's doing.

Re:Illegal (4, Funny)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796892)

What this guys is doing is indeed illegal, but not immoral; when our government is unwilling or unable to enforce or prosecute laws it becomes incumbent upon non-sanctioned individuals to protect society by doing so.

Bruce, we've been over the five stages of grief a million times: I keep telling you, you're stuck at Anger and you need to move on.

Re:Illegal (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796430)

The flawed "if illegal(X) then immoral(X)" argument was already addressed, so I'll skip it.

But this:

There is a reason why the laws are created by the society as whole and not a single person or a group with single interest.

is arguable, at best, and horse hockey at worst.

Re:Illegal (3, Interesting)

Pteraspidomorphi (1651293) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796520)

I think you're right, but is it more illegal than spamming? I believe the kind of spam sent by these people/bots is illegal in the United States and several other countries (though I'm not american, so I may be wrong). The sender is hiding his identity, deliberately getting around spam prevention systems and offering no method for opting out. So we're dealing with criminals here, and what is law enforcement doing about it? Random Digilante writes in his blog that he contacts ISPs, who would normally be expected to investigate these people (who inclusively break the ISPs own terms of service), but they usually do nothing. So while the taking over of e-mail addresses registered by criminals for the sole purpose of breaking laws and annoying the hell out of everyone may not be exactly nice, shouldn't you save your indignation for the actual spammers, their customers, ISPs, law enforcement agencies and lawmakers? Or for people who are out in the streets embezzling, scamming, mugging, kidnapping, raping and murdering?

Re:Illegal (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796554)

No matter your reason, it's illegal to access other peoples email accounts without their permission. Even more so when you disable the accounts.

Not if you're the email provider. I had a gmail account that I used for mundane things like emailing friends and family (real meatspace friends, not facebook friends). They informed me that the account was being taken down for violating TOS. No indication of which Ts of the OS were violated; like I said, I used it for normal, mundane emailing and there is no way I violated any terms whatever. No way to contact or discuss it with a human.

I no longer use Gmail, of course. Even though they would be happy to set up another account, no thanks, Mr Google. What you did was evil. If you're a Google insider I'd like to talk to you, because I've been kind of pissed at Google for this for a year now.

Re:Illegal (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33797210)

Google rep here.

There isn't a need to discuss this issue further. We have analyzed your search habits and other information about you, your family, your friends and your enemies. Based on your state of mind, there is no purpose served by pursuing this issue, so we'll mark it as closed. If you become more rational later we will let you know and accept your apology.

Google. Doing no evil since 1996.

Re:Illegal (1)

Bobfrankly1 (1043848) | more than 3 years ago | (#33797200)

There is a reason why the laws are created by the society as whole and not a single person or a group with single interest.

I almost choked laughing at this line. You must be delusional. In what part of the world do you reside?

Predicted future news: (3, Funny)

Even on Slashdot FOE (1870208) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796010)

Forum spammer sues vigilante, gets both arrested. Vigilante does more time.

Re:Predicted future news: (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33796068)

In fact only vigilante does time. Remember that only email spam is covered by law, forum spam is not.

Re:Predicted future news: (1)

Bobfrankly1 (1043848) | more than 3 years ago | (#33797250)

Child porn and fake drugs are covered by a multitude of laws. These things being placed on a forum doesn't change this. Spammer does more time.

Re:Predicted future news: (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796162)

As he should.

Re:Predicted future news: (2, Informative)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796482)

That's exactly what a spammer would say. Spam costs real people real money. Email is already a fairly heavily I/O bound process, especially at volume. I've seen spam floods kick a server from a load of 2 to a load of 15, and banning the sending IPs dropped the load immediately, but only once we figured out it was email that was causing the issue. After that incident, that became the first thing I'd check, if it weren't completely obvious that it was a problem account on the server (I was an admin at a web hosting company at the time).

The majority of my day as spent dealing with spam, either incoming or out going, sometimes from hacked accounts and other times from "email marketers" who would get entire /24's entered in spamhause and then keep legitimate email from being processed. That included personal correspondence, and a lot of times business mail from customers on vps or dedicated servers, who just happened to have the misfortune of having an IP in a block that got a bad reputation because of some douchebag.

Then, those people call into support, who of course can't do anything about it except come bother the admins. Then we have to find a new IP address that hasn't been tainted, reconfigure the mail server to use it, waste an IP in the process, and hope to stop the cause of the issue and get the old IP de-listed before we have to start all over again.

Spammers should be drawn and quartered. They are the worst, most vile people ever. If Francisco Franco molested baby kittens, he'd still not be as bad as a spammer.

Re:Predicted future news: (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796496)

Forum spammer sues vigilante, gets both arrested. Vigilante does more time.

I'm guessing a jury trial might provide different results.

Re:Predicted future news: (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796990)

You are guessing that a jury is made up of intelligent people who listen and dole out justice. Your guess is wrong.

So silly.... (4, Insightful)

catbutt (469582) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796024)

Forum spam is best solved with good forum software. A good karma system is probably the best solution. I've never seen spam on slashdot (unless I dig through the low rated posts).

Re:So silly.... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33796118)

Bad karma? Rush to fast? Increase karma size with v1agral! Bomb woman womb and be king! Souper special deal at RealFarmacee.cm!

Re:So silly.... (2, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796150)

Not really and Slashdot really highlights it because far too often people who disagree with the poster will mod that post down for no other reason other than that.

The reason why /. doesn't have much spam is because there is no market, how many people on Slashdot would want to buy P3n15 3nh@nc3rz?

Re:So silly.... (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796268)

how many people on Slashdot would want to buy P3n15 3nh@nc3rz?

You sell P3n15 3nh@nc3rz?!? Man, I need one of those! Where can I get one?

Re:So silly.... (3, Interesting)

catbutt (469582) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796318)

You really believe that the reason that slashdot wouldn't have spam if people were able to post spam on slashdot and have it reach more than a few eyeballs?

Anyway, slashdots system isn't perfect, and is designed to do more than kill spam. Regardless I think it works fairly well for what it does.

For eliminating spam in forums and comments, all you need to do is this:

Give the readers the ability to mark comments as spam with one click, and, as long as the reader has a decent history of not abusing the priviledge, the message will disappear immediately.

This isn't that hard, but to do it well isn't trivial either. Probably best done by a company like Disqus where it is their business.

There would need to be some checks and balances, where a person can get reported for erroneously marking something as spam. The system needs to be scalable, so that the admin of the forum doesn't have to deal with much, as all the work is done by users, and there is a checks and balances system to determine how much to trust users.

The nice thing is that over time it reduces the incentive to bother spamming the forums, since (typically) the first person who sees a message, eliminates it. Also, on a system like disqus, where you have a global identity with some history, it could be smarter about how prominent to make posts if the person has no history of posting without being marked as spam.

Re:So silly.... (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796454)

Recently I have accessed the E-mail and Slashdot login of the user Ethanol-fueled, real name Ethan Pearsall from Santa Rosa California, who has been spamming Slashdot with racist comments and miscellaneous threats of violence against the emo culture, Mac users, and religious people.

Don't fret - I have changed the login information so that he will no longer spam Slashdot. This forum will be a much better place with him gone, so I do not care if you disagree with my methods. It serves him right. People should not be allowed to be dickheads online thinking that somehow it will not affect their working lives. I will now be able to submit my articles with +5 first posts without having to live in fear of Ethan's ridicule. God bless you all.

-- eldavojohn

Re:So silly.... (1)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796662)

Not really and Slashdot really highlights it because far too often people who disagree with the poster will mod that post down for no other reason other than that. The reason why /. doesn't have much spam is because there is no market, how many people on Slashdot would want to buy P3n15 3nh@nc3rz?

You answer your own question.

Re:So silly.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33796160)

W0nt f0rum $of+w4r3? +ry 4 fr33! 83$t d34l 0n1in3 +0d4y! www.goodforumsoftware.ru/abigscam/takeallthemoney/spammill

forum spammer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33796214)

best solved with a bullet through their head.

Re:So silly.... (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796242)

There's more to spam than just covering the page. He says the main reason he got into this was that spam was slowing his forums down. Wasted Bandwidth.

Re:So silly.... (1)

catbutt (469582) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796338)

Yes but a good system will eliminate the incentive to bother spamming it.

Re:So silly.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33796246)

Or you could go the SomethingAwful route and charge money for the privilege to post. And then come up with a ton of douchebag rules that exist solely to make people have to repurchase their accounts. And still be populated solely by assholes.

But at least it's spam-free...

Re:So silly.... (1)

catbutt (469582) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796534)

Well that's just stupid. Although what do you expect, given the name?

There are lots of smart ways to handle it that don't require extreme measures like charging to post, or having vigilantes out there hacking accounts. It amazes me this problem hasn't been addressed well yet.

Re:So silly.... (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796762)

There are lots of smart ways to handle it that don't require extreme measures like charging to post, or having vigilantes out there hacking accounts.

Please name some. I haven't seen a smart one yet.

It amazes me this problem hasn't been addressed well yet.

Maybe it's because there are no easy ways to prevent spam?

Re:So silly.... (5, Interesting)

Deep Esophagus (686515) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796730)

Let me know if you find a good karma system. I have been on /. for years, have never posted anything remotely spammy, have attempted to participate in discussions... so why is my karma set at "bad"? I have no idea what, if anything, I can do about that and because of it my comments never appear in any discussion threads. It is likely nobody will ever see this unless, as you say, they dig through the low rated posts. Not that I'm bitter.

Re:So silly.... (3, Insightful)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796888)

I, and lots of other people, read at -1. Don’t assume that just because you’re starting at 0 nobody will read your post; Anonymous Coward posts at 0 by default.

If you want to get your karma back up, here are a few things to keep in mind. They may or may not help, but hey, it’s free advice.

Post early. Don’t post often. Make sure you aren’t just repeating someone else’s post. Funny doesn’t give you karma. Funny+Troll burns karma quickly. Sometimes it’s what you say. Sometimes it’s how you say it.

Re:So silly.... (1)

catbutt (469582) | more than 3 years ago | (#33797014)

That's fine that you do, but I don't consider it a big problem that those who want to read at that level are exposed to crap. As far as I'm concerned, the spam problem on slashdot is solved. I think slashdot's system could be a lot better (for instance, I think that those with good karma should ALWAYS be able to mark something as spam...not only when they have mod privileges), but at least there is little incentive to spam slashdot. I seriously doubt anyone who tries it is rewarded with any revenue from their efforts.

First Post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33796040)

First Post!!

Overperforming busy bodies (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796076)

Overperforming busy bodies? How does he get them?

Yeah! (1)

Oasiz (1017554) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796080)

He is like an internet superhero!
Using the 'powers' to stop the bad guys!

I was banned from Free Republic (4, Informative)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796092)

I created an account and was banned almost immediately.

They have extremely vigilant forum monitors who will bring the banhammer down for the slightest offense.

My offense? I insinuated that gays might be able to serve in the military just as well as straights.

Re:I was banned from Free Republic (1)

i-c-electrons (1467179) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796218)

That's hilarious. About the gayus in the military, the media over hypes it. I'm in the military for going on 12 years now and I've known several gays. Nobody really cares except for the people that are arrogant and probably inbred. Sorry went off topic for a minute.

Re:I was banned from Free Republic (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796396)

Actually, the media underhypes it if anything. Sure as far back as Vietnam, and probably earlier there were gays serving more or less openly. The problem though is that as soon as one of them starts doing something which arouses too much attention or makes somebody jealous or gets a promotion that somebody else wanted.

There's a reason why there's a difference between de juris and de facto in these cases. Hell, even if you manage to make it 18 years, there's cases where people get outed and booted anyways.

As for the matter at hand, what he's doing is illegal, and he's ultimately risking the same sort of consequences that those that haxxor other people's machines to send spam face. Assuming they were actually caught.

Re:I was banned from Free Republic (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796370)

How dare you express an opinion about a controversial topic on the internet?

Re:I was banned from Free Republic (3, Informative)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796492)

Many sites develop groupthink. Slashdot certainly isn't immune.

Free Republic takes it to a higher level and eliminates any dissenting voices by deleting their posts, banning their accounts from posting, and logging their IP address so that future accounts created at that IP are automatically banned.

Forum spam is a different story, of course. But the thinking behind it is the same. These are posts that are not welcome on this site, therefore we must eliminate them.

Of all the sites I've visited, Slashdot (and perhaps Kuro5hin) has the best system. Posts are never deleted, and even posts modded to -1 can still be read by those interested. There is the pink page of death and other nasty bits that I think /. could get rid of, but on the whole this site caters to its posters very well.

That said, the groupthink is still very obvious.

Re:I was banned from Free Republic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33796474)

If you want to get slapped down on slashdot, just post an actual quote from Obama under a story about one of his policies showing what a clueless idiot he is, and you can go from excelent to negitive karma in a single post. Plus they will periodically zero any positive values for your karma forever afterwards. They are as aggressive as a Talaban who has spotted a bear in a cartoon.

Re:I was banned from Free Republic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33796542)

I created an account and was banned almost immediately.

Quite perceptive of them! They could tell you were BadAnalogyGuy even under a different name, before you posted anything! :-D

Re:I was banned from Free Republic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33796550)

I created an account and was banned almost immediately.

You will have a full and active life even without being exposed daily to a forum that have juicy topics such as:

- former freeper. banned for defending science.

Re:I was banned from Free Republic (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796678)

Science?! What kind of pinko Muslim loving homosexual are you?

Re:I was banned from Free Republic (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796982)

Not so Free are they?

Re:I was banned from Free Republic (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#33797018)

My friend Don Darund was banned from Paul McArtney's web site. The moderator said it wasn't the first time they'd banned Don Darund and it wouldn't be the last.

Bullshit (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796138)

Yon don't take over someone else's email account, just it's automated.

It's also a stupid way to solve the problem.

Correct, I don't. He does. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33797080)

Correct, I don't. He does. And what experience and knowledge applicable to you bring so that your pronouncement about it being a stupid way to solve the problem can be taken with no supporting evidence?

Or was your entire post bullshit?

Like One Man Against a Zombie Army (1)

Squeebee (719115) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796170)

As long as it's him working manually and the spam bots working automatically he won't even make a dent in the flow of forum spam.

Re:Like One Man Against a Zombie Army (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796498)

Ash did just fine. Maybe we just need to get this guy a chainsaw hand?

Re:Like One Man Against a Zombie Army (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33797056)

As long as it's him working manually and the spam bots working automatically he won't even make a dent in the flow of forum spam.

From the site linked in the summary, "To date I have taken over a total of 70 email accounts for this purpose, and each of them had registered to anywhere from 4,500 to way, way over 135,000 forums, only for the purposes of spamming one or another fake product or porn site in violation of the rules of all of the forums they registered to and in many cases in violation of law. (Lots of porn, lots of pills.)"

Yes, I rtf site... Sounds to me like his numbers are big enough that it could be making a dent.

Greetings (2, Funny)

rakuen (1230808) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796182)

You are a great writer. I found this article very informative. Would you like to be buying genuine spam today [spam.com] ?

Spammers are getting good (5, Interesting)

Dan East (318230) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796298)

As someone who deals with forum spam on a daily basis, I'm rather surprised at how intelligent the spambots are becoming.

Of course there's always the blatant, obvious spam (99% of which are video encoding tools for iPad, iPhone, etc). But I've recognized two other types of very covert spambots.

First one will take fragments of sentences from previous posts in the topic and regurgitate them. At first glance it seems on topic, but closer inspection reveals the post doesn't make sense and is just portions of others' posts.

The second type uses a database of sentences harvested from other websites, and attempts to post a sentence that matches keywords in that topic. Usually I can spot those because they aren't exactly on topic to the thread. I've also seen these modify various throw-away words, like adjectives and articles, so the sentence isn't an exact copy of the original source.

Now the key thing with both of these kinds of spambots is that they do not include any links initially. A couple weeks after posting they come back and change their signature, which results in spam links appearing under all of their previous posts.

I've also noticed that the vast majority of spambots use yahoo.com email addresses, so yahoo's captcha must be weaker than gmail / hotmail.

Now on the topic of this story, I don't quite understand. The forums I moderate have a few spambot accounts created daily (using recaptcha and custom implemented captcha). So it's not like there's just a couple spambot accounts causing all the trouble. Over the course of a month it around a hundred different accounts. So I don't see how this hacker is helping anything going after accounts one at a time manually.

Example "advanced" spam (4, Informative)

Dan East (318230) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796380)

Here's a specific example of what I'm talking about. Here is a post made to my forums in July 2010:

You can choose ‘Micro-ATX’ size motherboard for your HP. That limits the possible range of motherboards deals you will find. My advise is to buy a case that fits full ‘ATX’ form factor motherboards and go from there, many choices. It is depending on money and what you want if your building a good rig for gaming multimedia etc and don't buy a case with power supply. Please choose a separate power supply.

Now here is a post from another website made in 2009:

Your HP case (the cheapest part of the pc!) takes a ‘Micro-ATX’ size motherboard.

That limits the possible range of motherboards\deals you will find. (look for a motherboard\processor package)

Now you are already buying ‘a whole new computer’ except the case, why stop there? (unless you want the small form factor)

My advise (thats why your here!) is to buy a case that fits full ‘ATX’ form factor motherboards and go from there, much more choice.

Depending on money and what you want if your building a good rig for gaming\multimedia etc DON’T buy a case with power supply, they are usually sh*t (cheap\unreliable). Choose a case, choose a separate power supply (after research!)

Re:Spammers are getting good (4, Interesting)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796676)

First one will take fragments of sentences from previous posts in the topic and regurgitate them. At first glance it seems on topic, but closer inspection reveals the post doesn't make sense and is just portions of others' posts. ... A couple weeks after posting they come back and change their signature, which results in spam links appearing under all of their previous posts.

For another example of this exact thing, just look at slashdot user clint999.

http://slashdot.org/~clint999 [slashdot.org]

Last post was yesterday... it’s still active. Funnily enough it almost always posts exactly 30 min. after the hour, but not every hour.

Re:Spammers are getting good (2, Insightful)

rhizome (115711) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796822)

Now the key thing with both of these kinds of spambots is that they do not include any links initially. A couple weeks after posting they come back and change their signature, which results in spam links appearing under all of their previous posts.

You might consider disabling .sigs.

He has no impact (1)

neiltrodden (981196) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796310)

My forum software gets spammed. My solution is to ask real users to email me to activate the account. I get 200 sign-ups a day and all are spammers so i just filter them from my inbox. What does this guy do? Sends me an email warning that the account is spam bringing his unsolicited spam message into my inbox. I think I've had about 5 messages from him and probably have had about 30,000 spam sign-ups.

Re:He has no impact (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 3 years ago | (#33797228)

You can't add questions to your forum sign up routine? On my forums the following three questions have completely eliminated forum auto-spammers from even signing up.

1.) "Are you a human, yes or no."

2.) "Leave this line blank"

3.) Another question pertaining to the forum's focus, easily figured out by a human that knows how to use a search engine.

   

Re:He has no impact (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 3 years ago | (#33797260)

Those only work because you’re a low-profile target. They’d be trivially easy to defeat if anyone actually wanted to spam you.

Receivie amazing intelligence! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33796326)

Posting this anonymously because Random Digilante got my account deleted.

Dear Decision maker , We know you are interested in
receiving amazing intelligence . This is a one time
mailing there is no need to request removal if you
won't want any more . This mail is being sent in compliance
with Senate bill 1625 ; Title 4 ; Section 302 . THIS
IS NOT MULTI-LEVEL MARKETING ! Why work for somebody
else when you can become rich as few as 33 days . Have
you ever noticed people love convenience and more people
than ever are surfing the web ! Well, now is your chance
to capitalize on this ! WE will help YOU decrease perceived
waiting time by 190% and increase customer response
by 150% . You can begin at absolutely no cost to you
. But don't believe us . Ms Ames of Florida tried us
and says "My only problem now is where to park all
my cars" ! We are licensed to operate in all states
! We implore you - act now ! Sign up a friend and you
get half off . God Bless !

the reasons are most certainly NOT sound (-1, Troll)

Mike Kristopeit (1900306) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796388)

the difference between a "spammer" and a "real user" is a matter of opinion. both are controlled by real people, and both require a real user account to add forum content.

freedom of speech must be protected at any cost. "Random Digilante" is a terrorist.

Re:the reasons are most certainly NOT sound (1, Troll)

SockPuppetOfTheWeek (1910282) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796440)

Re:the reasons are most certainly NOT sound (-1, Troll)

Mike D. Kristopeit (1900568) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796674)

my post was on topic... yours was not.

YOU are the spammer.

Re:the reasons are most certainly NOT sound (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33797252)

HAHAHAHAHA

    So you reply from a second account to show that you aren't the spammer?

by Mike Kristopeit (1900306)

by Mike D. Kristopeit (1900568)

    Yup, you have us all convinced.

Sadly, *he'll* probably end up getting in trouble (2, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796512)

It would be nice to live in a world where whistleblowers and positive vigilantes were rewarded for their actions. But, in the vast majority of cases, these people end up in more trouble than the scumbags they're exposing and fighting. This guy will probably end up with more legal trouble for fighting spam than the spammers themselves will ever face for their network-clogging, frequently illegal, openly harassing activities.

If you ask me... (-1, Troll)

e065c8515d206cb0e190 (1785896) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796820)

there is no room in this world for vigilantes

Re:If you ask me... (1)

halivar (535827) | more than 3 years ago | (#33797052)

You should go hunt them down, or something.

The e-mail being sent (2, Informative)

Arjes (1572161) | more than 3 years ago | (#33796870)

I received one of his e-mails today. For anyone interested, here is the e-mail he is sending.

Do not auto-approve this forum account, it was created by a forum spammer.

The account which created this forum account did so using automated means. The reason was so that he could post a forum account and then use it to automatically post thousands of fake messages to your forum to promote some form of ridiculous product there.

In all likelihood your website has nothing to do with whatever this idiot is promoting, but in any case you definitely do not want to be promoting this scumbag's websites.

Delete this account, and any other account tied to the email address which sent you this automated response.

The way to prevent this activity from continuing is to make all new registrations require a more complex, secure password. Increase the required length and make sure it requires uppercase, lowercase and punctuation characters. Do not allow automated self-registration of new accounts. If you've been getting a lot of messages like the one you're reading now, that means your forum is still far too easy to register at, even if you manually approve the accounts.

Apologies for any further inconveniences this message causes.

Sincerely,

Random Digilante

http://randomdigilante.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

Re:The e-mail being sent (2, Funny)

albertid (1905910) | more than 3 years ago | (#33797068)

Let me guess, his e-mail is: robin.hood@sharewood-forest.com?

Re:The e-mail being sent (1)

rakuen (1230808) | more than 3 years ago | (#33797234)

You know, if all forum administrators started requiring longer passwords with upper/lowercase and punctuation... why on earth would the spambot makers not adjust their bots accordingly? It's really not that hard.
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