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How To Get Websites To Ban Sign-ups From Gmail.com Accounts

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the battle-of-the-scripts dept.

Communications 175

An anonymous reader writes "Paul Tyma describes a simple, elegant, and hilarious method that Mailinator (hypothetically, of course) used to mess around with people who scraped its webpages in order to block its alternate domains. Quoting: 'Remember all that script-detecting code from the anti-abuse system? Well, what if I put that in here too, I thought. Let's "detect" when a script is hitting our weensy alternate-domain page. ... And what if after about 30 page hits from the same script (or so), stop displaying actual alternate domains and start sprinkling in some other things. Hmm... but what other things? I know — how about "gmail.com". Or, um, "hotmail.com". Or maybe, "yahoo.com."'"

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Counterfeit Bitcoins Caused Price Crash (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637204)

An anonymous hacker used phony Bitcoins (BTC) last month to drive down the price of the online currency from $17.50 to a penny within the span of 30 minutes, Bitcoin exchange firm Mt.Gox has revealed. The hacker was able to create 2 million counterfeit BTC by manipulating the company's trading database after gaining access to a compromised administrator account on June 19, according to Adam Barr, head of support for Mt. Gox.
The hacker also assigned about $1 million in phony cash to the compromised account. After a massive volume of Bitcoins entered the Mt.Gox system, the price of the online currency crashed, creating a buying frenzy. The online thief ultimately got away with 2000 authentic Bitcoins before the site's security measures kicked in to stop trading.
Mt.Gox said user accounts were not compromised during the exploit and has promised to replace the stolen Bitcoins at the company's expense. The fake Bitcoins and cash "existed inside Mt.Gox alone," Barr says, and could not be transferred into a wallet for use in another exchange.
Bitcoins use a public-private key system to ensure the currency cannot be forged. To sell or buy Bitcoins in your virtual wallet, you need the right private key (basically a really long number) to prove that the Bitcoins are really yours. The person on the other end of the transaction needs your public key. However, when trading happens in real time, Mt.Gox relies on a simple database tracking each user's Bitcoin and cash balances to carry out transactions, according to Barr. The public-private key setup only comes into play once the Bitcoins are taken out of trading and placed in a user's wallet.
Although the Bitcoin system allows for anonymity, user wallets can be tracked. Mt.Gox has given competing exchanges the numbers required to identify the stolen Bitcoins in the hopes the thief will not be able to turn his ill-gotten gains into hard currency. The company has also alerted law enforcement, but it's unclear if police will investigate. Mt.Gox is based in Japan. SQL Injection Suspected
Mt.Gox's user database recently leaked online and the company suspects the anonymous hacker was able to gain access to the administrator account using the leaked information. The stolen database included e-mail addresses, user names, and encrypted passwords. It's unclear how the database was stolen, but Mt.Gox believes the hackers exploited an SQL injection vulnerability in its network that the company discovered in late June.
A typical SQL injection allows a malicious hacker to submit code into a text field submission box such as a web form asking for your name, address, and so on. If proper precautions aren't taken, a website's server will execute the code giving the perpetrator access to the site's databases. Originally, Mt.Gox suspected its database leaked online after "someone who performs audits on [Mt.Gox's] system" had their computer compromised. Change Your Password Now
Despite using encryption, Mt.Gox is warning its users to change their passwords immediately if they didn't do so after the price crash on June 19.
bitcoin currency hacker security"Our users and the public should know that these hashed [encrypted] passwords can be cracked, and many of our users' more simple passwords have been cracked," Mark Karpeles, CEO of Mt.Gox parent company Tibanne, LLC, says in a statement. Mt.Gox users should also change their login credentials for any other online accounts that use the same password.
Mt.Gox said it now uses SHA-512 encryption for user passwords to prevent a similar data breach in the future. The company also changed its system so that administrators cannot so easily edit the trading database, Barr says.
Since the data breach, Mt.Gox has been busy rebuilding its system to handle the massive amount of business the company says it was unprepared for.
"Our dated system was built as a hobby when Bitcoins were worth pennies a piece," the company says in a statement. "It was not built to be a Fort Knox capable of securely handling millions of dollars in transactions each day...We are certain that the launch of the new site will exceed the rightful expectations our users have of the service. We only hope that we can once again earn the trust of the Bitcoin community."

Re:Counterfeit Bitcoins Caused Price Crash (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637220)

tl;dr

Re:Counterfeit Bitcoins Caused Price Crash (2)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637504)

Have you thought about submitting that story? Cause it sure beats the topic at hand.

Re:Counterfeit Bitcoins Caused Price Crash (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637916)

After reading half of this post I thought: was that the cause of all those subluxations?

Summary (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637250)

Makes no fucking sense. A/C's bitcoin post above makes more sense.

Re:Summary (2, Funny)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637266)

I figured you were trying to be funny, but I went and reread both of them and you're right, the bticoin post is a lot easier to follow.

Re:Summary (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637424)

The Bitcoin post just looks dumb; phony Bitcoins? doesn't exist; they're cryptographically signed, the whole post is ridiculous. The article, on the other hand, is very simple, if you know what Mailinator is.

Basically, it's a free webmail with no registration, no password, no security whatsoever: just send an e-mail to testaddress@mailinator.com, go to mailinator.com, and tell it you want to see the e-mails for "testaddress".

So if you go to some website and it wants your e-mail address so that it can spam you, you put in a mailinator address instead. But then the website gets wise to this and tells you that you're not allowed to put mailinator addresses in the e-mail field when you register. So Mailinator constantly creates new domains that work identically, and gives you a handful of them when you visit the site. Websites got wise to that too, and had scripts that automatically checked Mailinator and automatically blacklisted all the domains it listed.

Well, hypothetically speaking, if Mailinator's server detected that it was being accessed by a script, it could list whatever domains it wanted (google? yahoo? hotmail?) and the script would dumbly blacklist them. Result: now you can't sign up for $shitty_web_registration_account using your $real_Gmail_address, what the fuck?

Re:Summary (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637572)

Result: now you can't sign up for $shitty_web_registration_account using your $real_Gmail_address, what the fuck?

A few web sites, such as Pocket Heaven, have been seen to block signups using free webmail providers such as hotmail.com, gmail.com, and yahoo.com. They want people to sign up using e-mail addresses at an ISP's domain.

Re:Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637756)

Nice try, FBI.

Re:Summary (3, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637870)

At least one muck does likewise, but in their case it's for another reason: They want an address they can be sure is legally traceable to turn over should the police request it. The operators are very legally cautious, as it's a place where lots of sexual scenes get played out, and they want a way to make sure that should drama occur they can pass the buck and not need to be involved any more than they must.

It's a common fear of small service operators - one user commits a crime, and the investigators may just sieze the entire server and the backups to be sure they get everything of use to them.

Re:Summary (2)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638296)

Maybe. I can tell you from experience that it will entirely depend on the investigator.

That moron from the FBI will be infamous forever for his rampant stupidity in destroying hundreds of businesses by taking every server in the entire data center.

If the investigator is reasonable, and you are performing services on behalf of another company or user, you can calmly explain that seizure is not required. That the investigator is far better off using you as an expert to get the information they need instead of destroying you for 24 hours until you can come back from backups, or if you are lucky, be located in geographically dispersed locations beyond his/her jurisdiction.

I know personally of just a situation in which the investigator was talked out of seizure and convinced that the best people for the job to help with forensic analysis of the customer, their code, and their databases was the operator himself. Even got paid by the government to keep the server up and running and provide reports about the network traffic, customers, accounts, transactions etc.

All of that being said, it is ridiculous to assume that a ISP based email address, or personal/corporate domain email address is anymore "legally" traceable than any of the free services. If I want to send an anonymous email that cannot be tracked, I will be able to do so quite easily.

I proved this years ago. Some guy in the office said that he could track everybody by email and that it could not be faked. Well a couple of email messages sent from him announcing his romantic intentions towards a horse that he tracked back to his email server, and tracked back to his station convinced him otherwise.

Email is not proof of an identity. The use of email at any one time is not conclusive proof that the owner of the account even originated the email message at all. Unless each email is encrypted and signed, there is no way to conclusively link the email or its content to an individual........ Just like an IP address.

We all know that WPA2 can be cracked in under 15 minutes with the right resources and the most wireless security is akin to a wet paper towel to anybody that possesses to tools and knowledge.

Turning it over to the police is the easy part. Convincing an ignorant investigator that seizing $50k worth of equipment is overkill and just taxes their forensic resources is the hard part. To say that is legal in a court of law is something to that will depend on how good the lawyer is. Give me 15 minutes in a court room and I can convince anybody that I can impersonate just about anybody on the Internet in a fairly short period of time. You don't need to be a super hacker to do it either. Just download some tools and script kiddie away! :)

Re:Summary (2)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637600)

I think you should be offered a job as a /. editor. I actually understand it now, thanks!

Re:Summary (3, Insightful)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637618)

Thanks AC. Why the fuck couldn't TFS had just said this? Your summary makes more sense than TFS, TFA, or the Bitcoin BS post.

oops, forgot to sign in (0, Redundant)

cheeks5965 (1682996) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638028)

The Bitcoin post just looks dumb; phony Bitcoins? doesn't exist; they're cryptographically signed, the whole post is ridiculous. The article, on the other hand, is very simple, if you know what Mailinator is.

Basically, it's a free webmail with no registration, no password, no security whatsoever: just send an e-mail to testaddress@mailinator.com, go to mailinator.com, and tell it you want to see the e-mails for "testaddress".

So if you go to some website and it wants your e-mail address so that it can spam you, you put in a mailinator address instead. But then the website gets wise to this and tells you that you're not allowed to put mailinator addresses in the e-mail field when you register. So Mailinator constantly creates new domains that work identically, and gives you a handful of them when you visit the site. Websites got wise to that too, and had scripts that automatically checked Mailinator and automatically blacklisted all the domains it listed.

Well, hypothetically speaking, if Mailinator's server detected that it was being accessed by a script, it could list whatever domains it wanted (google? yahoo? hotmail?) and the script would dumbly blacklist them. Result: now you can't sign up for $shitty_web_registration_account using your $real_Gmail_address, what the fuck?

Re:Summary (1)

igreaterthanu (1942456) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638768)

The Bitcoin post just looks dumb; phony Bitcoins? doesn't exist; they're cryptographically signed, the whole post is ridiculous.

Think of BitCoins as money that is impossible to forge, and MtGox as essentially a bank. The "phony bitcoins" refers to a database entry on MtGox that said that one account had a large number of cash that never really existed in the first place. In theory all the database entries should sum up to the total amount of cash at MtGox, but in this case nothing stopped it.

As for Mailinator, couldn't one write a script that sent to a random email address at a particular domain e.g. adflas2343872938743@gmail.com and see if it bounces? If it bounces, it isn't a mailinator address.

Re:Summary (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637346)

TFS and TFH are disgraceful, or as I like to call them, slashdotesque. TFA is relatively entertaining though, once you figure out what the fuck mailinator is.

Re:Summary (3, Informative)

tenchikaibyaku (1847212) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637358)

I'm glad I'm not the only one who was left wondering what the hell this was all about.

The short story: "Mailinator is a free, disposable email service". Some site operators wants to block people with this service from registering. There's a way of listing all the domains used by Mailinator (by generating a bunch of new throwaway addresses?). Mailinator in turn has a way to detect when a script is trying to go through this list.

The amazing idea is to detect when a script is scraping this list, and feed it bogus data like "gmail.com".

Re:Summary (5, Insightful)

Mad Merlin (837387) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637486)

It baffles me that people still require email addresses for random account signups. Either people are going to provide their email address, or they're not. Make it required and they'll just feed you a fake/disposable one, or not make an account at all. How about you treat your (potential) users with some respect and just make the email optional? That's what Game! [wittyrpg.com] does and it works well.

Re:Summary (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637676)

Whenever I see a site that bars free email addresses from sign ups, I interpret that as them not wanting my business. I've learned from past experience not to use an ISP email address as the don't let you keep it when you change ISPs. Likewise for school email and anything which I have to maintain something in order to keep. I'll log in periodically to maintain an account, but that's it.

Services that require one of those special addresses aren't doing themselves any favors.

Re:Summary (2)

Rifter13 (773076) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637810)

I completely agree. Gmail IS my email address. Stop me from using it, and I don't have another. Oh, I use qwest... and I think I have a hotmail address through them? Morons.

Re:Summary (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638174)

Seriously? The only email address that you have is one that is controlled by the whim of a third party? If you're going to use gmail, at the very least you should register a domain and tell gmail to do that, then if Google decides to cancel your account (which they are entitled to do, for any reason), you don't lose your email address.

Re:Summary (1)

Rifter13 (773076) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638212)

Ok, I have more than one. Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail... but Gmail is what I use as my email box. I have had it since I got an invite early on. I have had it longer than any ISP I have ever used. I DO own a few domains, but don't actually use them for email explicitly. From time to time. So, I could get around restrictions, but, if they don't let me use Gmail or maybe Hotmail, I won't use their service. I have yet to find any service online that was SO pressing, that I would work at getting another email address for them.

Re:Summary (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637878)

"Likewise for school email "

The IT staff read your emails.
- A school IT worker.

Re:Summary (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637944)

Not that it's in any way relevant to the topic, but just because you're an unethical little shite doesn't mean everyone is.

Re:Summary (1)

CTU (1844100) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637964)

Then they can read all the emails the school sends me...which is mostly useless stuff anyways :P

Re:Summary (2)

Malenx (1453851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638110)

The moment I required email addresses was the moment I got focused by some stupid Russian botters and spammed with new accounts.

Blocking gmail is used to block competitors (3, Insightful)

erice (13380) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638560)

My friends run into this a lot when signing up for free seminars. The idea is to prevent employees of their competiors from attending their events. Competitor domains are blocked (obviously) but also well known ISP's and free web mail services like Gmail because a employee of a competitor can easily hide there. The whole process is quite leaky though. There are just too many domains to check. If you have a personal domain or even a lesser known ISP, they let you in rather than trying to figure out what or who you are.

Re:Summary (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637794)

Thanks for the translation. The summary really could have been some random gibbering from a not yet fully grown spawn of an avatar of the Crawling Chaos. Horrid, but incomprehensible.

Re:Summary (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637884)

Well, at least TFS proves to us that the /. monkeys aren't quite ready to duplicate the works of Shakespeare yet ;)

Re:Summary (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638154)

True, but I fear what they might be able to conjure up if they follow down this path. This summary is not that far from "IA! IA! AZATHOTH FHTAGN! IA! IA! AZATHOTH NEBLODZIM FHTAGN!" And we all know where that ends.

Re:Summary (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637628)

There is a page which simply lists all alternative domains that you can use in your throwaway addresses. Web sites regularly download that page and parse it to add any new domains to a blocking list, so that when a user tries to register on these web sites with an email address based on a new Mailinator domain, the registration is automatically rejected. Mailinator detected (detects?) automated accesses to this list of domains and instead of simply returning an appropriate error code, they generate a fake list of domains. When common web mailer domains are added to the list, they end up blocked by the sites which scrape the Mailinator domain list page.

Welcome to the wonderful world of automated black lists and the associated pitfalls. Some people haven't received a bloody nose yet and are still willing to learn the hard way. For example: Your server is hit with a SYN flood attack. Do you add the source IP addresses to the firewall blacklist or do you still need to talk to the .com domain name servers?

Welcome to the internet. (1)

synthesizerpatel (1210598) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637270)

Also:

* Type /sign for your IRC star-chart reading

* Type +++ for your 1200 baud modem speed doubler

Also, since you're new to the club I'd like to offer you a leech account on our private warez site - use your existing login name and password when you ftp to 127.0.0.1

Re:Welcome to the internet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637450)

Speaking of doubles... check 'em ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Re:Welcome to the internet. (2)

barrtender (1930830) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637462)

Also:

* Type /sign for your IRC star-chart reading

* Type +++ for your 1200 baud modem speed doubler

Also, since you're new to the club I'd like to offer you a leech account on our private warez site - use your existing login name and password when you ftp to 127.0.0.1

Quit giving away my warez hosting site! I told you to keep that a secret.

Re:Welcome to the internet. (1)

BadPirate (1572721) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637536)

Also, since you're new to the club I'd like to offer you a leech account on our private warez site - use your existing login name and password when you ftp to 127.0.0.1

Damn.. I've already got everything on that site :(

SNR (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637276)

The signal to noise ratio on that blog post was so low.. Here's the TLDR:

When you detect that someone is scraping your site, and you'd prefer that they didn't, start feeding them bad data in a way that they won't notice. The dataset that you've poisoned will then have side-effects that the scrapers wouldn't have expected.

Re:SNR (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638696)

I wondered why they don't just use a captcha.

Wouldn't that be fraud? (-1, Flamebait)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637330)

Email sent to an alternate domain goes to Mailinator too! Here is one such alternate domain: gmail.com

Isn't this hypothetical situation just fraud? That's basically claiming you own the gmail.com domain and can offer mail services at that domain for free.Both claims are false and intentionally deceptive.

Even if it's not fraud Google can still sue you for damages.

Re:Wouldn't that be fraud? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637430)

If you read the horribly long blog, they don't say that (The here's one such alternative message) on the page scripts were scraping from.
It's an iframe to http://mailinator.com/randomdomain.jsp [mailinator.com]
Normal users get legit answer but if you hammer that page it serves up "other" results.

Re:Wouldn't that be fraud? (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637590)

Your alternate domain list displayed 'gmail.com'!
Hi Fred, no it doesn't. Just reloaded the homepage 10 times, nothing like that. all the best.

or I bet another would be like:

Yahoo.com? What is this some kind of joke?
Sorry, did you mean to email this to Carol Bartz? Not sure what you're talking about.

The article says some of his genuine users will notice the erroneous on the main page.

No scraper is stupid enough to just load http://mailinator.com/randomdomain.jsp [mailinator.com]
They'll load http://mailinator.com/ [mailinator.com] discard the main iframe, and then parse the randomdomain.jsp iframe.

Re:Wouldn't that be fraud? (2)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637704)

They'll load http://mailinator.com/ [mailinator.com] discard the main iframe, and then parse the randomdomain.jsp iframe.

...and if they hit it more than x times per second/minute/whatever, they could still get the posioned results.

Personally, I'd be ass enough to display ";DROP DATABASE *;" for a fake alternate domain as one of the commenters on TFA had mentioned, just to see if anyone complained.

Re:Wouldn't that be fraud? (1)

sabt-pestnu (967671) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638018)

Obligatory XKCD: http://xkcd.com/327/ [xkcd.com]

Re:Wouldn't that be fraud? (2)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638334)

If I cared this is the scenario I envision:

I'm just ass enough to be patient and just keep eating his random domains. It's free for me to add them to the blacklist. Each on cost him $0.75 or something. And it's not like I can't republish the list. Get together with a handful of other site admins, pool our resources and we all hit the site at random times throughout the day from random locations and what do you know, in not too long it'll he'll get tired of paying for new domains.

Seems like he's on the losing side here.

Re:Wouldn't that be fraud? (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638556)

Well, yes and no. After all, how many site admins actually give a damn about it in the first place, and how would you find enough compatriots who not only did, but would be willing to expose their own operations and help you out?

Eventually, you'd get sick of having to weed/script out not only the obvious legit domains, but others like comcast.net, att.com, frontier.net, verizon.net, and a whole raft of regional and smaller ISP (and corporate!) domains globally that he could add to the fakes list. After all, if you're running a site that discusses semiconductors, having to constantly be on the lookout for inadvertently banning intel.com (or even smaller but fairly important ones like triquint.com or wacker.com) would get pretty old, pretty quick.

Consider it this way... who has more time to dedicate to the game? You, who have a site to run, or that guy, who doesn't have to do much of anything else to do at all - not to mention all the other services that do the *exact same thing*? Remember that these guys can change IP addys and domain names in bulk.

Eventually you find yourself in a position similar to the RIAA trying to stop people from sharing music. Sure, you'll get a couple of 'em, but eventually you spend more time chasing them than you do in getting your original results.

Re:Wouldn't that be fraud? (2)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637732)

Nobody would download the main page. They'd load the direct page setting the appropriate 'referrer' header to seem as it is being loaded by the main page. There's no magic way to tell if the page is being loaded in a frame or not.

Loading a full HTML renderer to load the iframe inside the normal page is complete overkill.

Re:Wouldn't that be fraud? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638510)

There's no magic way to tell if the page is being loaded in a frame or not.

Yea, except ... you know ... see if theres been a recent request from the same browser session for the main page. You're right its not magic, its actually really simple, and its not even new. The very same thing was once used for various silly things like authing SMTP send without logging into the SMTP server by allowing sends from IP for a few minutes after seeing a POP3 connection.

Its basic SPAM prevention really, LOTS of popular sites do this exact sort of thing, including gmail and yahoo for webmail accounts in various places.

Re:Wouldn't that be fraud? (1)

Ruke (857276) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637770)

The "hypothetical complaining users" you quoted are those running scrapers, not actual Mailinator users. And yes, clearly the scrapers were stupid enough to load http://mailinator.com/randomdomain.jsp [mailinator.com] ; otherwise they wouldn't have run into the garbage data.

Re:Wouldn't that be fraud? (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637950)

Why would the scraper runner email him? Why would he even both replying to these people who want to ban his service?

It only makes sense for him to answer a confused legitimate user.

Also there was no garbage data. This is all a hypothetical situation. So we have no evidence of scrapers actually falling for this silly trap.

Re:Wouldn't that be fraud? (1)

Ruke (857276) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638332)

He pretty clearly states that these hypothetical conversations are happening between users who were accessing "the page they weren't supposed to [be] accessing anyway."

And, hypothetically speaking if you had code that would sneak in these non-alternate-domains in the page they weren't supposed to accessing anyway, when would be the best time to set it into action?

Well, those scripts ran at many different times, but just after midnight seemed like a popular time-slot.

If such code existed, making it active Sunday morning from Midnight to 2am seems nice. I mean heck, if my website stopped accepting signups from "gmail.com" on some Sunday morning, I'm sure I'd be downright chipper to hop into the office and find out why.

Boy. If all that stuff happened - I wonder what kind of email conversations I'd have on that Sunday afternoon? I bet they'd be like:

The people who are banning his service are emailing him because they want to know why their automated scripts, which scrape his pages, are reporting that "gmail.com" should be banned.

Re:Wouldn't that be fraud? (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637434)

Just because something's not true doesn't make it fraud. Even if it were, all he'd have to do would be to say "here's either an alternative email address for this service OR a regular, existing email service from another company". Humans would have no problem determining, and scrapers get confused.

Re:Wouldn't that be fraud? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637652)

They don't have to be jerks about it, just give the scraper it's arpa address instead.

Re:Wouldn't that be fraud? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637460)

The article has a lot more details than the summary. You'll find he addressed this issue if you read it.

Re:Wouldn't that be fraud? (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637564)

I read the whole article, and it still doesn't answer my question above.

No. [Re:Wouldn't that be fraud?] (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637508)

If you actually read the blog post, you would notice that the page does not say that the false domains go to mailinator.

(1) his main page states "e-mail sent to an alternate domain goes to Mailinator too! Here is one such alternate domain: "
(2) that page calls a second page that generates the alternate domain.
(3) the second page generates a correct alternate domain if called from the main page, but false information if called (repeatedly) by itself.

So, if you go to his main page, you get correct information. If, on the other hand, you're a robot, and say "hey, I can save time by just reloading the second page,I don't need to reload the main page, since it only gives me the same information I already have"-- then you get the randomly chosen (false) data. But doing it this way doesn't put the text "Email sent to an alternate domain goes to Mailinator too! Here is one such alternate domain:" in front of the false information.

Re:No. [Re:Wouldn't that be fraud?] (2)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637648)

Your claim 3 is wrong because of 2 reasons:

He predicted that some of his real users will notice the error when viewing the home page:

Your alternate domain list displayed 'gmail.com'!
Hi Fred, no it doesn't. Just reloaded the homepage 10 times, nothing like that. all the best.

or I bet another would be like:

Yahoo.com? What is this some kind of joke?
Sorry, did you mean to email this to Carol Bartz? Not sure what you're talking about.

Reason 2 is that scraper writers aren't stupid. They won't just load the second page knowing it's an obvious trap. They will load the main page like a regular user, and then parse the small iframe.

Re:No. [Re:Wouldn't that be fraud?] (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637790)

Your claim 3 is wrong because of 2 reasons:

He predicted that some of his real users will notice the error when viewing the home page:

Your alternate domain list displayed 'gmail.com'! Hi Fred, no it doesn't. Just reloaded the homepage 10 times, nothing like that. all the best.

No, you misunderstand. His point is that "Fred" would say this "Your alternate domain list displayed 'gmail.com'!" based on the fact it came up in the scraper's results. He then directs "Fred" to look at the homepage and verify for himself that it actually never comes up. You see?

Reason 2 is that scraper writers aren't stupid. They won't just load the second page knowing it's an obvious trap. They will load the main page like a regular user, and then parse the small iframe.

Ah, and here I thought the owner of the mailinator.com domain had access to the server statistics that would tell him how people accessed his site. But obviously you're the person with that access, right?

Re:No. [Re:Wouldn't that be fraud?] (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637922)

Why would the scraper writer ( or people buying the scraper's results) email him?

Why would he reply to the scraper writer?

Remember, these people want to ban his service. It doesn't make any sense for them to be emailing him or for him to email them back. So it follows that "Fred" must be a legitimate user confused about gmail.com appearing on his page for a few hours and then never appearing again.

Re:No. [Re:Wouldn't that be fraud?] (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638428)

Your claim 3 is wrong because of 2 reasons:

No, your english comprehension failed.

He predicted that some of his real users will notice the error when viewing the home page:

No, he predicted that the people who run the scrapers would be suggesting to him that his website displayed "gmail.com -- not real users, but scraper-owners pretending to be real users.

maybe not Re:Wouldn't that be fraud? (1)

Fubari (196373) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637932)

Isn't this hypothetical situation just fraud?

Maybe not - he put the randomizer into a standalone URL, which just returns some text.
(Try it a few times, and do a view page source: http://mailinator.com/randomdomain.jsp [mailinator.com] )
The "clever" part is that it just returns some text, nothing labeled as an "alternate domain".
The URL suggests it is some random domain; it doesn't say anything about alternate or mainstream.
The text might be a domain.
It might be a pie recipe.
*shrug*
Anyway, his main page uses that standalone URL and labels that page labels the result as an alternate domain.

So suppose it was fraud.
Next question - who would prosecute? :-)

"Why do you feel it was fraud?"
"Because we asked for an alternate domain and they gave us gmail.com."
"Was that the only request you made for a 'random domain'?"
"Probably."
"Wasn't that request just one in a batch of 2,000 you made during a 10 minute window on July 17th, 2010?"
"Uh, I don't recall."
"Does this server log help your memory?"
"Oh. Hmm. Yeah, that might have been us..."

Re:maybe not Re:Wouldn't that be fraud? (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638066)

I understand the iframe trick perfectly, thank you. I also understand it won't stand up in the court of law. If this defense actually worked then authors of libel and hate speech can just put each of their words in a separate iframe and claim they hosted a dictionary.

 

Next question - who would prosecute? :-)

 
Scraping websites is prosecutable now? I wonder how Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft are staying above the law then.

I have no problem with him presenting false information. That's still constitutionally protected free speech.

I have a problem with him impersonating other business for fraudulent reasons. How would you feel if you ran a mail service and his little stunt got your legitimate users banned around the web? Would you be ok with him claiming that your domain is an alternate address for mailinator.com?

Re:maybe not Re:Wouldn't that be fraud? (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638186)

Except, he's not impersonating them. He never offers to receive mail for them, he merely suggests that a (hypothetical) user (who accesses the generator in ways that no real user would) use a Gmail or Yahoo account for whatever.

Re:maybe not Re:Wouldn't that be fraud? (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638244)

According to his blog, this exact statement would appear on the main page to everyone (not just the scripts): "Email sent to an alternate domain goes to Mailinator too! Here is one such alternate domain: gmail.com". I personally don't think that's suggesting an alternative email service. I think that's claiming his service also covers the domain gmail.com, which is false.

I said "everyone" because he posted two hypothetical questions from his legitimate users, so he's fully aware of the confusions he will cause.

Re:maybe not Re:Wouldn't that be fraud? (2)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638548)

Let me give you a hint, he can 'suggest' things and hypotheticals ... and when he goes to court, no one will give a shit how he 'pretended' he wasn't living in reality.

Trying to word it in such a way that you pretend you didn't do it, but its clear to everyone you did, won't actually get you anywhere legally.

Contrary to popular belief, lawyers are actually smarter than you or the idiot who is 'suggesting' things think, and judges wouldn't let this sort of silly bullshit last for more than a few seconds in any court room. The best you could hope for is that the judge thinks you're just retarded and not actually trying to pull the shit for real.

Now I want to ban mailinator (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637336)

I want to ban mailinator from my servers just simply because this guy is a douche bag. Oh and the story poster? What the fuck man, is English your second language or something, I've seen some incoherent shit posted on /. before, but this is pretty bad?

In short a poorly written blurb with a link to a story about some douche bag, being well, a douche.

WTF (1)

pinkeen (1804300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637356)

I read the TFS twice and WTF is it all about? No wasting time to read the TFA then.

Worth the read (5, Informative)

pavon (30274) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637484)

Yeah, you have to both know what Mailinator is and how it uses alternate domains for the summary to make any sort of sense. I didn't know either, but I am glad I read the article, because it is pretty funny.

TL;DR:
* Mailinator is a throw-away email service, and some sites want users to provide "real" email address and thus try to ban use of mailinator.
* To combat this Mailinator has a bunch of alternate domain names that all resolve to the same server.
* It displays them to users at it's website one at a time, chosen randomly.
* Blockers tried to scrape the Mailinator website to get the full list of domain.
* If a scraper is detected they could instead be fed other domains like gmail.com, which would cause the scrapper to block email from those domains as well.

Re:Worth the read (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637946)

Umm, I did not have to read the article and I understood all of what you said before you said it from the snippet given here...

Hardly an original or novel idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637372)

I had code to detect email harvesters and gift them addresses like abuse@fbi.gov in the late '90s. For anybody running a mailinator type service, what he's suggesting would have been so obvious that the USPTO would grant them a patent on it.

"Hypothetical situation" (1)

WarlockD (623872) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637374)

FTFA - "What, in our completely and totally hypothetical situation, would that do?"

I find it more interesting he doesn't have any scrapers as he did before. Hell, I am still amazed mailonater isn't band when some sites still don't take Hotmail or yahoo addresses still.

I'm Sorry But That's Ridiculous (4, Insightful)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637382)

The scrapers would just remove gmail.com, yahoo.com, hotmail.com, all .edu and .gov domains, and leave in aol.com. Website owners probably know that most of their traffic comes from relatively few domains so as long as those are not banned, they ought to be okay. The people who were incorrectly banned would just complain and then the website owners can judge the domains one by one.

Re:I'm Sorry But That's Ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637560)

Yes, but before that I'm sure he'll have had plenty of "hypothetical" fun...

Re:I'm Sorry But That's Ridiculous (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637736)

The scrapers would just remove gmail.com, yahoo.com, hotmail.com, all .edu and .gov domains,

That's the whole point! They would have to stop their automated system and edit the blacklist by hand. This would cause may blockers to stop then and there. But I agree with the article; this is not needed. Mailinator is working perfect as is. When I find a site that blocks mailinator I 1. learn something about that site 2. use a special crap email I created for such occasions.

Website owners probably know that most of their traffic comes from relatively few domains so as long as those are not banned, they ought to be okay.

First, email is still hugely diverse. From my experience about half of a given unique customer base will have an email at one of the big guys. The other half contains domains from schools, businesses, local isps, small email providers, personal web sites, and more.

Second, you are greatly underestimating the impact of a few blocked users. I've seen a website reverse it's policy of blocking mailinator because of the problems it caused. Blocking an unrelated domain would cause a shitstorm.

The people who were incorrectly banned would just complain

You won't get many useful notices from people who can't create an account. By the time someone uses the site's email contact you'll have plenty of nasty complaints scattered throughout the internet.

and then the website owners can judge the domains one by one.

Again, that's the whole point. I believe many of the people who use an automated system to scrape mailinator would not bother if it proved this difficult. If mailinator really wanted to play this angle they could register domains that were hard to tell if they were legit or not.

But again, I think mailinator is working perfectly. For most sites it provides an anon email source. For the ones that block it we learn that they are fanatically interested in the minutia of their users. A valuable lesson indeed.

Re:I'm Sorry But That's Ridiculous (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638196)

I highly doubt 99% of websites are set up this way. Deny lists are a lot more popular than allow lists since you can never truelly know where ALL of your traffic is coming from.

He sounds like a douche... (0, Flamebait)

whois (27479) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637390)

I've never heard of Mailinator. Now that I have I guess I'm still not interested. I have my own domain and create fake accounts to track who sells my name but I generally get more spam due to mailing list posts I make than anything else, and you can't have a one-way email for mailing list accounts (although I guess you could set them to only accept mail from the mailing list, if you're willing to not accept personal replies to things you send out)

But this guy is full of himself. "Look at me, I setup a system to facilitate hiding your email address. Oh, people want to ban it? Lets see about that, hah!"

A normal response would be to just give out your list, or as he claims, stop accepting mail for that website (although that's opt-out so it's automatically less good than the alternative)

Now us evil web site owners will just have to come up with some other way to ban his bullshit.. like sharing the list publicly despite his efforts.. or.. banning his IP:

mailinator.com. 86400 IN A 66.135.37.96
spamherelots.com. 86400 IN A 66.135.37.96
thisisnotmyrealemail.com. 86400 IN A 66.135.37.96

shrug.. none of my business I suppose since I haven't heard of him, but I would be furious if I got that kind of response from an "anti-spam" company when asking them to stop spamming me.

Re:He sounds like a douche... (4, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637514)

shrug.. none of my business I suppose since I haven't heard of him, but I would be furious if I got that kind of response from an "anti-spam" company when asking them to stop spamming me.

How does Mailinator spam anybody? They don't send any email, just receive it. And they don't facilitate forum spam any more than any other free email service.

Re:He sounds like a douche... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637526)

You appear to be missing the entire point. Mailinator does not send out emails. Mailinator provides throwaway email addresses for you to use for signups. It is read-only, not write-only. It is impossible to spam someone via Mailinator.

Re:He sounds like a douche... (2)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637844)

It would be possible, would it not, for spammers to use it to sign up to bulleting boards...?

Re:He sounds like a douche... (3, Interesting)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637966)

On the other hand, it makes it a lot harder for bulletin boards and companies to sell spamable addresses.
I used to use unique email adresses for each site I signed up on; turns out spammers got my email from some quite reputable companies.
Unless you expect to actually need to communicate through email with whatever site you're signing up to; use a fake email adress.

Ban IP addresses? (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637836)

Email tends to resolve addresses only at sending time, and in a forum system, that's several subsystems away. In fact, in a full-service hosted environment, that's probably way off in your ISP's systems.

Re:Ban IP addresses? (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637986)

Can you manually find the IP address based on the domain name part specified in an e-mail address?
If you can, then so can a webserver.

email validation (1)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637392)

doesnt it make sense for the validation method to ping the domain? so if site $foo pings bar@gmail.com it'll show google's server not mailinator. It'll show as a valid domain. Or am i missing something?

black hat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637422)

Regardless of whether or not this works, this is unabashedly black hat. Why is this on Slashdot?

Re:black hat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637470)

Because you're wrong, and it isn't?

Re:black hat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637718)

Actually it's multi-color party hat. If you're still automatically banning stuff on the internet, this is one rather innocent way of learning why that's a bad idea, and everybody else has a laugh.

Translation (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637444)

Prior knowledge required to know what the summary is talking about:
-Mailinator is a disposable email address service for people that don't like giving their email address to strangers
-There are people who have issues with allowing someone to sign up for and use your service with a disposable email account
-People started banning Mailinator off the bat
-Mailinator's creator responds by creating alternate domains the email address can use to evade the standard Mailinator ban, displaying them for the public when they visit the Mailinator page at a rate of one domain per visit
-People create scripts to collect these alternate domains for various purposes (mostly for banning)
-Mailinator describes how it could mess with these people to remain useful to its users by detecting rapid page requests and serving random domains in response.

Re:Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637990)

People respond by creating whitelists for hotmail, gmail yahoo etc...

Re:Translation (4, Insightful)

Onymous Coward (97719) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638088)

etc...

Therein lies the rub.

TFA missing one little thing (2, Interesting)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637456)

WTF is mailinator and why, in the first place, would I want to find out about its other domains and then ban them?

Re:TFA missing one little thing (1)

SockPuppetOfTheWeek (1910282) | more than 3 years ago | (#36637510)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mailinator [wikipedia.org]

Long story short:

Shitty website requires you to register dumb account you'll only use once
Website wants your e-mail address, and requires verifying it by activation link
Tell it your e-mail address is nobody@mailinator.com
Go to mailinator.com and enter "nobody" as username
Click activation in e-mail

Then websites started banning @mailinator.com addresses, so mailinator tells you an alternate domain that you can use which also points to mailinator. Then websites started loading that same page and banning the alternate domains. Then mailinator (if it wanted to) could start putting stuff like "google.com" in its list of alternate domains for anyone who was repeatedly reloading that page...

FUCK YOU MAN AND THE KAMEL YOU RODE IN ON !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637528)

It's GMAIL for Chistie's Sake !! Teh GOOGLE is GOD !! You don't fuck with GOD and live to be a ripe old age !! REPENT BLASPHAMER !! REPENT !!

DNS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637700)

What the hell, a scraper to find out all the aliases?
Why don't they do a simply dns request and filter on the ip

meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36637730)

i fucking hate sites that require a damm email to do ANYTHING. Still anon here on slashdot after a decade.

And if they have problems with me using mailinator.. (meaning i just wanted to sign up and didn't ever want SPAM from them)
It's a shit site and i don't care to use it anyway.

So pretty much any site that blocks mailinator addresses. I won't be signing up for anyway. Fuck em. Fuck their spam. Their site is going to get a throwaway address or nothing at all.

And isp emails are a fucking joke. i've changed isps a few times over the years. those accounts are dead and useless. gmail isnt.
mailinator isnt either.. lol

Spamgourmet, better in every way (1)

uigrad_2000 (398500) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638176)

spamgourmet.com is a much better site for generating thousands of fake email address, although not as fun as mailinator. You can forward them all to your real email address, and then turn them off individually as they are compromised.

Spamgourmet.com also has a whole range of alternative names. I, for example, use mamber.net for the domain name of the addresses I generate. Visit the site, you'll get a laugh.

So, how does spamgourmet prevent one person from getting a complete list of all alternate names? Every few months, he displays 3 more alternate domain names, and removes all references to the previous 3. Those 3 will never be shown again. It's a much simpler solution, but clearly defeats the scripts.

If you really had a want of domain names, and thought it was extremely important to not let anyone get the full list, you could fragment the list based on the requester's location. For someone to get the entire list, they would need to find proxy servers for all regions other than their own.

Re:Spamgourmet, better in every way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36638382)

spamgourmet.com is a much better site for generating thousands of fake email address, although not as fun as mailinator. You can forward them all to your real email address, and then turn them off individually as they are compromised.

And get your real address sold to spammers.

Re:Spamgourmet, better in every way (1)

dskoll (99328) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638570)

You don't need the list of domains. The (comparatively tiny) list of MX machines will do...

The actual technique he used (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638246)

Mailinator has been around for ages, this is not news, if you don't know what it is then :( for you, and as the article said back in the day it was by far the best way to get a temp email for signing up for something like a forum that requires you to register so you can get the link you need. IMHO it still is. The writer provided an epic insight into the battle between websites and bots, more than you typically hear of on a day to day basis. He went completely out of his way to implement this solution, nobody would ever code an intranet like this, but supposedly he also got results and was even able to implement a good measure. Great example of code being applied to the real world for those who haven't seen a whole lot of it.

DNS lookup (1)

Trentula (1684992) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638314)

Why don't the websites just do a DNS lookup on the domain used for the e-mail address, as all of mailinators domains seem to point to the same IP.

TLDR: Mailinator: Mail {Terminator|Eliminator .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36638374)

For all those people... "what is mailinator" "why do I care?" -- I thought /. was for intelligent nerds. News for people who are at least educationally literate.

/ TLDR in #36637276 / has it dead on. And people who couldn't figure it out in a minute and have a chuckle are a waste of precious oxygen. Burn your damned geek card. Mailinator is mailinator.

Got it? No? Is the juxtaposition of words confusing? Do we need to add an explanation?

Mail: OH hey, you're a geek, you know what email is
"inator"... huh...sounds like other stuff that ends in that...

If you can't guess, my dictionary only has 46 words matching "inate$" ... but a glance of the webpage answers better.

Oh, they're being funny--like terminator. I can tell by going to their homepage, which took me all of FIVE SECONDS. Less if I type it in my 'google search' box and click the preview link!

Get your heads out of your ass and learn. Part of being a respectable geek is being able to learn new things--not follow some god damned manual to set up your crappy exchange server while pretending you're good enough to be a BofH. Not expecting a summary to babysit your miserable ass when you could have learned in half a second. Not bitching and moaning that you don't know some part of culture and somebody didn't explain it well enough to you, because you don't understand MATH/PHYSICS/COMP SCI/Fortran Humor/What BoFH is or whatever the fuck else someone referred too.

Hey--we invented fucking google. Use it.

Why do you care about other domains? I dunno...this is Slashdot, you'd think there'd have been an article on SPAM sometime in the past decade. Maybe some of you who weren't busy fingerfucking sharepoint and outlook might have encountered disposable email addresses back...oh, I don't know.... Around fucking 98 when they came out in qmail? I've heard rumors DEC had them before then, but I'm too young for that. Maybe some of you know a use for disposable addresses and fake domains? Maybe have written a honeypot and have the competence to compile your own MX ?

Seriously, take your autistic spectrum OCD social disorders and blow them out the back of your damned skulls and onto the walls of momma's basement. I like my geeks literate and intelligent, not bending over for the Chicago Manual of Style because it makes them feel smart to follow the rules of an idiot in the humanities department.

And now, to be modded into nothingness! So sue me for being rude, it's Friday before the fourth and I've been stuck in meetings and want a beer.

If you're still reading this, please mod a random angry stranger up so I can give a big giant explosive American fourth of July "FUCK YOU" to people who are reading this and don't get what mailinator is.

And to the ones who got it...or didn't but read...have a well earned beer for being a man.

Silly scrapers.... (1)

dskoll (99328) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638564)

Anyone who scrapes the list for alternate domains is supremely dumb. It's far easier to get a list of the small number of MX records. When we wanted to ban mailinator, we just banned any domain with an MX record that matched an IP address in the mailinator MX pool. Even if he uses a few different MX records for different domains, you'd only need a small list of domains to cover all the MX machines.

Dear Soulskill (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 3 years ago | (#36638654)

Apparently Kdawson has hacked your account, please secure it immediately.

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