Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

My Short Life As An Unintentional Porn Spammer

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the you've-got-spam dept.

Spam 570

Freerange writes "Mike Masnick wrote up his experience getting slammed by a somewhat new kind of spam attack that doesn't get much hype (yet?). A spammer spoofed his personal email address as the 'reply-to' for a batch of spam, with interesting results for Mike: "I can now answer the questions 'who replies to spam?' and (should anyone ever wonder) 'what are the hundreds of variations on bounced messages?'" From Politech."

cancel ×

570 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Reverse spam really isn't that new... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5289223)

Spammers have been spoofing legit addresses for a while. I know a lot of times they'll simply use webmaster@somelegitdomain.com and basically cause that person a bunch of grief and headaches. Most users are too clueless to realize it's really not coming from that address.

Re:Reverse spam really isn't that new... (5, Interesting)

The_K4 (627653) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289358)

The new one i've run into recently is they use some kinda script so that the reply-to address in my address....which makes fintering really easy becuase how often do I send mail from my account TO the same account. However I could see some stuipd user getting very confused. :)

Re:Reverse spam really isn't that new... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5289368)

This is indeed old news.

You took 4 minutes of my life and I want them back! Oh, I only would have wasted them anyway.

pr0n (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5289224)

Light strips from thinkgeek do NOT make you "kewl"

fucking gay slashdot, chicks dont DIG them either.

muhahah (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5289228)

FIRST BABY

Right on (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5289233)

I bet he never got tired of goatse links!!! Kinda like browsing on /. at -1!!!

What to do with all that spam you get... (2, Funny)

insanecarbonbasedlif (623558) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289235)

It makes good eating, even if it's a little strange [pitt.edu]

I tried the first one, and the paper doesn't mix too well, but once the eggs soak through, it cooks up well... not too flavorful. It's more of a filler like Tofu.

What the Internet needs: (5, Funny)

unterderbrucke (628741) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289236)

A proprietary mail protocol by a major power (MS?) to eliminate IP address/e-mail address spoofing.

In Soviet Russia... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5289237)

...the Spam porn's you!

Not New @ All (5, Interesting)

devaldez (310051) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289238)

I experienced this five years ago and a group of sysadmins helped me track the guy back to his ISP and we turned the info over to the FBI as identity theft. We were told that my experience did not meet the threshold for them to investigate further ($5000 in damages). Worse, the ISP didn't have a code of conduct prohibiting this type of thing...

Sucks when it happens, but isn't new.

Probably the same idiot in Minnesota:(

Re:Not New @ All (4, Funny)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289311)

That's what baseball bats are for.

If the FBI won't take it further, you could always beat seven shades of shit out of him, then when the police arrest you, assume his identity.

Re:Not New @ All (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5289318)

Probably the same idiot in Minnesota:(

Minnesota just barely discovered indoor plumbing. They have a while before they make it to an internet connection.

Re:Not New @ All (1)

AmishSlayer (324267) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289328)

heheh post his information here and let us exact geek justice ;)

Who knows, maybe I know him. I worked for a creep here in Minnesota... he wasn't a spammer when I worked there, but I wouldn't put it passt him.

Re:Not New @ All (1)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289371)

The $5000 threshhold is easy. Hire a security investigator to look into the problem, pay them five grand, and forward a copy of the bill to the FBI.

Re:Not New @ All (1)

Jim Hall (2985) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289429)

The site is slashdotted right now, so I can't read&comment on the article (but when has that stopped someone on Slashdot?)

I had this happen to me a few years ago. Some spammer (not for porn, tho') used my webmaster @freedos.org address as his "From" address. When I fetched my email the next morning, I had 150 new emails (bounces).

I was able to track the guy down somewhat, but only to the open mail relay he had used. I contacted the admins for the box being used to relay the spam, posted a "not me" message on my web site, and created a "delete" filter for my Inbox.

I think this will continue to be a potential problem for anyone who owns a domain.

-jh

Skynet (5, Funny)

OwlofCreamCheese (645015) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289245)

its not going to be military computers that come alive and kill us all, its going to be the spam filters! I mean, its going to take some serious adaptive AI to filter out spam at this rate...

and the conformforting thought:

when spamfilters come alive... their prime directive will be "eliminate anything that is worthless"

I hear ya! (2, Interesting)

spammeister (586331) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289250)

a couple of months ago Rogers cut off a friend of mine in Toronto, and he was without cable for 3 days...When his father was eventually contacted/got a hold of them, they said that my friend was spamming people. If I was there I would have liked to see proof, but I know my friend doesn't spam people and this is pretty groundless. But it just goes to show how gullible ISP's are (at least Roger's) at cracking down on this sort of thing. Basically I lost 3 days of downloading warez to his box (since I live in SlowNet land meh!

Hey (0, Redundant)

Burritos (535298) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289257)

What legal action can he take against the spammer?

Yeah, us too (3, Interesting)

YodaToad (164273) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289258)

The place I work (Productive Data Corporation) gets tons of bounced spams and replies to spams every day. Our domain is productive.com so any email to whatever (at) productive.com comes back to the admin email accounts. As you can probably guess there's quite a few spammers that use productive.com as reply-to. We have to constantly update our spam blockers to weed out all the real emails from the spam =/

Re:Yeah, us too (1)

cyb97 (520582) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289346)

Catchall-accounts is turning into a nightmare!
Just got hit by a moron who sent out spam with one of my customers domains as reply-to... and this poor little creature had set his catch-all-account to his primary email account...

I guess reading ~1020 mails (still counting) is a waste of time...

Re:Yeah, us too (1)

YodaToad (164273) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289387)

Yeah, it was nice a few years ago before all this spam stuff, but it's becoming a big problem.

One interesting/funny thing that comes from this, though, is that we sometimes get emails from places like Ford or this one company (I forgot the name) that makes mail sorters with product specifications (or CAD files in the case of the mail sorter) and other interesting internal stuff. Don't ask how it gets to us, I don't know. :)

North Korea has missle that reaches U.S. west coas (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5289259)


Check cnn.com for the latest. Bad news, even if it is untested.

For those that have experienced this... (2, Interesting)

HeelToe (615905) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289262)

So what did you do? Change your address? Or wade through it all until eventually the maelstrom died down?

I'd be pretty upset if this happened to me.

Why? (4, Interesting)

BurntHombre (68174) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289264)

Why intentionally spoof someone's legitimate email address in the reply-to field?

Why not just put some bogus made-up address there?

Are the spammers just trying to cause as much chaos and unpleasantness for as many peoples as is humanly possible?

Re:Why? (4, Informative)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289308)

>> Are the spammers just trying to cause as much chaos and unpleasantness for as many peoples as is humanly possible?

Perhaps some, but it's also a way to get past some spam filtering app, or to make you think its a legit e-mail. I remember there was a big whoopty-doo a year or so ago about spammers using someone@linux.org as the reply to.

Which goes into the trashbin first, hotsex69@sexparty.ru or ltrovalds@linux.org?

I know! I know! (1)

Sibeling (597639) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289403)

Which goes into the trashbin first, hotsex69@sexparty.ru or ltrovalds@linux.org?
ltrovalds@linux.org unless ofcourse you dream about sex with.. o nm

Re:Why? (2, Interesting)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289323)


> Why intentionally spoof someone's legitimate email address in the reply-to field?

Who knows? Once in a while I get spam faked to look like I sent it to myself.

Spammers are the only "businesses" in the world who think it's best to be as offensive as possible to potential customers. The mentality is astonishing.

Re:Why? (1)

cyb97 (520582) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289362)

Because a lot of mailservers/spamfilters refuse mail that:

comes from a domain that doesn't resolve

comes from a domain that looks bogus

comes from a username that looks bogus

Hence if I don't know the guy that runs example.org, why not use his domain as reply-to.... (check that it falls through most spamchecks first ;-)

Re:Why? (1)

eaolson (153849) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289401)

Why intentionally spoof someone's legitimate email address in the reply-to field?

One word: Revenge

Possibly for getting them kicked off their last ISP for spamming.

Are the spammers just trying to cause as much chaos and unpleasantness for as many peoples as is humanly possible?

Apparently so, yes.

Re:Why? (5, Informative)

Neon Spiral Injector (21234) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289405)

Hanging out on some anti-spam news groups I've seen this happen to people who go after spammers. In this case the spammer quite intentionally selects the FROM: address to make the bounces and irrate replies cause trouble for someone who has been causing trouble for the spammer. This is called a "Joe-job".

Re:Why? (1)

doublem (118724) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289420)

Revenge is one. It's a way to get back at someone who reported you or got an account yanked.

new attack (1)

adamruck (638131) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289265)

this could be a new sort of attack

-find someone who you dont like email address
-spam a whole bunch of people with there address in the return field
-watch them get blacklisted/spammed by lots of annoyed people
-enjoy the results

Re:new attack (1)

cyb97 (520582) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289388)

No point in sending out spam, just submit them to a couple of blacklists that do poor checks and hope and way for it to propagate and create trouble ;-)

Sorry, new? (1)

bartman (9863) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289266)

As 10^100 other people will tell you this is not new. I've been seeing this for at least 3 years on my University account.

Re:Sorry, new? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5289355)

10^100 is larger than the number of particles in the entire universe. Maybe you could tone down your exaggeration a little?

It's nothing new (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5289268)

It's referred to as a "Joe Job" or that you've been "joe jobbed"

an article about it [techtv.com]

jeez (1)

sickboy_macosX (592550) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289270)

Thats right up there with taking over someones email server and then bouncing emails off of your server. I would be a little pissed.

I dont know what the Spammers thing, they are right up there with Telemarketers who think by calling me maybe i will buy (insert name of needless service here) I think the federal government should get on the ball and have a Federal No Spam List, if they can do a no call list, theoretically they could do a no spam list with the same rules and restrictions. I am sorry 45 messages of Spam a day gets old.

Everyone call your State Rep! (5, Insightful)

Mustang Matt (133426) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289321)

I gave Testimony [pingalingadingdong.com] to the Missouri House of Reps on Jan. 29th.

It's easy to get things in motion, everyone is too lazy to try though.

Re:jeez (1)

The Evil Couch (621105) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289356)

nice thinking, but it wouldn't work. telemarketers are typically in the same country, if not the same state as their recipiants.

spammers can be from anywhere in the world, or at least their relays are. a hell of a lot of spam is sent through relays in china. they don't care who gets spammed. even if the US makes spamming a crime, it still wouldn't eliminate much of the spam.

Re:jeez (1)

jbaugh (643473) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289364)

only 45? you lucky bastard :)

Re:jeez (1)

cyb97 (520582) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289411)

Telemarketers are way better than getting spam,
with telemarketers at least you get somebody to scream at that you're 100% guaranteed that somebody'll hear you...
Posting your last spam-complaint to slashdot only gives you a microscopic chance of the actual culprit reading the post...

Damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5289272)

I've had this problem recently, only the funny thing is that the reply to was my own addy

And, if this happens to you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5289273)

Use Mozilla Mail's new bayesian spam filtering to catch it all!

Doesn't protect the ISP or end user (2, Insightful)

Mustang Matt (133426) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289303)

Sure you can filter it, but you haven't stopped the bandwidth that you paid for from being sucked up.

Re:Doesn't protect the ISP or end user (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5289312)

Fortunately, most people (well, most Americans), don't pay by the bandwidth used.

Most ISPs do though... (2, Insightful)

Mustang Matt (133426) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289391)

I pay every penny of my T1 cost and we're already looking at jumping to T3 for more bandwidth.

So just to put things into perspective... Every piece of spam comes through:
1. Eats a little bandwidth
2. Eats up a little CPU doing filtering.
3. Eats up a little bit of CPU doing virus filtering.
4. Eats up a little bit of disk space.

Now you say most americans don't pay by the bandwidth, this is true, but they do pay FOR the bandwidth. For instance, all of my customers pay for the shared resources on my server. If one customer gets 50 million pieces of spam in an hour my server has come to a crawl and all of the customers who paid for hosting service are interrupted.

Interesting link (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5289274)

Here's [microsoft.com] an article from MS explaining address spoofing in some detail.

No way to contact spammer (5, Funny)

$$$$$exyGal (638164) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289279)

I am repeatedly surprised by the amount of spam out there that does not contain any way to contact the spammer. How do they expect to make money if there is no way to contact them?

--sex [slashdot.org]

Re:No way to contact spammer (5, Funny)

nomadic (141991) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289342)

Volume!

Re: No way to contact spammer (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289384)


> Volume!

LoL.

Re:No way to contact spammer (3, Interesting)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289347)

A lot of that in my case is simply 'stock advice' that amounts to setting up a pump-and-dump [wordspy.com] scheme for the stockholder sending or contracting someone to send the spam. Obviously in such a situation all the stockholder has to do is wait for the price of the stock to be artificially inflated by all the buyers then sell off everything he's got.

I don't know if this actually works for anybody trying the spam technique, as I'd hope most people getting these messages would either be too smart to fall for it or too afraid of the stock market to set up and manage their own account.

Re:No way to contact spammer (1)

OwlofCreamCheese (645015) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289357)

I honestly don't think alot of spammers actually are even selling things, I'm pretty sure alot of them are just trying to drum up hits for banner ads. That is how they make money, being advertiseing portals for other sites.

Re:No way to contact spammer (1)

-dhan-101 (227087) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289360)

simple. they figure out the live email addresses and sell them to other spammers. a classic pyramid scheme.

Re:No way to contact spammer (2, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289363)

Could be like typical brand advertising. I'm sure many of you remember those Enlarge your Penis campaigns, or cheap Norton antivirus, or etc.

Or perhaps it's a counter strategy by antispammers - they send spam to make people hate spam.

Or maybe that's a counter counter strategy by spammers, erm nevermind. ;)

Re:No way to contact spammer (5, Informative)

wobblie (191824) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289373)

Some spams are purely for confirmation that your email address works. I repeatedly see spams which have 1x1 pixel gif's that link to a script to call the image and pass your email address off to that script. Biggest reason not to use HTML mail.

By making it up. . . (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289382)

in volume?

KFG

Not happy... (5, Funny)

Space_Nerd (255762) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289280)

...with all the spam replies and such he got, he now decides to take it a step further and slashdot his server!

Way to go!

Happened to Me, Too (4, Interesting)

Lucas Membrane (524640) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289284)

I'm in the Northwest US. The spam sent with my name came from Bermuda, according to the headers. I got complaints and a reply that seemed to be a death threat. The death threat came from Russia. Email to its return address came back as undeliverable. Talking to my ISP, they said that there is really not much that can be done about this unless I wanted to change my email address. I do business there, so I can't.

Dumb! (0)

gpinzone (531794) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289285)

This has got to be the dumbest thing a spammer can do. What's the point of using a real address? What's the motive? Perhaps the spammer used a real domain and guessed at a username that just so happened to be taken?

Happened to Me 3 Times (2, Interesting)

snarfer (168723) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289286)

This has happened to me three times. Two at one domain my business owned and once at my personal domain.

First you get millions of bounces. Then you get hundreds of angry replies. "TAKE ME OFF THIS LIST!" (Which only ensures that they get put ON more lists because it proves that it is a valid e-mail and that they OPEN AND READ their e-mail!)

AND you get the orders! You don't get that many, compared to how many e-mails were sent, but since the RECEIVER pays to receive the stuff, who cares?

Fix it with PGP. (4, Interesting)

bartman (9863) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289287)

Really, the only way to combat this kind of identiy fraud is with PGP. It would be ideal if every mail-program out there supported PGP.

Re:Fix it with PGP. (1)

RupW (515653) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289386)

Really, the only way to combat this kind of identiy fraud is with PGP. It would be ideal if every mail-program out there supported PGP.

You mean make signing mails mandatory (or de-facto mandatory)? What's to stop spammers just generating a key with your email address in it?

There's no way you can set up a universal web of trust (it'd have to have a centralised provider) that prevents spoofing *and* that will keep the i-want-to-be-anonymous civil liberties types happy.

Re:Fix it with PGP. (1)

Erik Hensema (12898) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289400)

You still need a web of trust for this. And a web of trust is very, very hard to establish, especially with someone you don't know at all (eg. the victem of the spam).

Without the web of trust, you can't identify the sender.

Spam needs a technical solution. (5, Insightful)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289290)

This adds more weight to my assessment of spam as being a technical problem with a need for a technical solution. Why are address spoofing and open mail relays still a problem after over a decade of spam-related problems?

Obviously, legislation isn't catching up and as evidenced by the junk fax law is useless when it does. Technical minds built the Internet, and I have little doubt that a solution could be found once we quit looking for the quick fix.

Re:Spam needs a technical solution. (1)

adamruck (638131) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289379)

legislation isn't going to do jack s--t. Lets pass some laws in the US, so only the people from the eastern half of the world can spam us...

I do agree however that we need a better protocol for mail.

Re:Spam needs a technical solution. (2, Funny)

sean23007 (143364) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289419)

Yeah, so let's stop looking for that quick fix, so we can finally get this fixed quick!

incase of slashdotting (3, Informative)

adamruck (638131) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289296)

the site seemed to be going pretty slow for me.. so Ill put the info here if it gets slashdotted

My Short Life As An Unintentional Spammer
by Mike Masnick

Ever wonder what sorts of emails end up in a spammer's email database? Want to know who actually responds to spam and what they say? Want to know the myriads of formats (and languages) a bounced email message can take? I can now tell you all of this. Without my knowledge, I recently became an accidental porn spammer.

When I got home one evening a few weeks ago, I noticed that I had more than the expected amount of email waiting for me. A quick glance through the inbox showed about fifty "bounced" emails - saying that email addresses of people I had emailed did not exist. The problem with this, of course, was that I hadn't actually emailed anyone.

It did not take long to figure out what happened. While some bounces simply told me that the recipient didn't exist, others included the original text of the email I had supposedly sent. It claimed to be from someone named "Chris" or "Ali" and was a reply to an alleged message from an online dating site. Chris and Ali apologized for taking so long to reply, and nervously suggested that the recipient find out more information about them by going to a website. Clearly, this was porn spam. Out of principal I won't visit the websites that were in the spam messages.

The problem was, I hadn't sent these messages at all. I'm not Chris or Ali. I don't use dating sites. I don't have a porn website. I don't send spam.

One of the popular "tricks" among spammers nowadays is to set the "reply-to" address as the same as the recipient's email address. That cuts out on the problems of bounce mails, and also has a psychological effect on recipients who are curious what email they've sent themselves. Most spam filters have figured out ways to still capture these spam messages (though, I'm now hearing stories of legitimate emails that people send to themselves being classified as spam). I've received plenty of these types of spam, and most are filtered away, never to be bothered with.

It seems that this particular spammer took things one step further, and made the "reply-to" address for all of his spam message set to my personal email address. If anyone looked at the headers, it was clear that I had nothing to do with the email whatsoever. However, most mail servers aren't so smart.

With any spam list, there's a certain percentage of "bad" or outdated email addresses. Generally speaking, a server that receives an email for someone they don't have an account for will "bounce" the message. Those bounces go to the person who sent the message - normally found in the "reply-to" line. Since my email address was in the reply-to line, all those bounces started coming my way, regrettably informing me that my pornographic spam emails had not found their intended recipient.

After dealing with the rapidly growing desire to reach through the internet and strangle whatever lower-than-life scum did this to my email address, I resigned myself to looking at this from an anthropological perspective. Suddenly, I was in a position to offer information on things that few others would (hopefully) ever willingly have access to.

Should anyone want it for research purposes, I now have a fairly large collection of bounce messages. It appears there is no standard format for a bounce message (which, by the way, makes them painfully difficult to filter). They have infinitely different subject lines. They say different things in the body of the message, sometimes nicely, sometimes rudely. They show up in different languages with different explanations. Some admit that the account has been closed due to too much spam. Others simply don't exist any more (if they ever did at all). Some bounces quote the original message; some don't. Some include full headers; some don't. Who knew there was such variety in how mail servers bounce their email?

Beyond the bounce messages were all sorts of auto-responders. It seems that some of the email addresses in the spammer's database were emails people used to send responses to those who "request more info". Suddenly I was receiving huge files of information that I really had no use for whatsoever. I also found out about a number of people who were on vacation that week, or who had recently switched jobs. One even had an auto-responder saying "this is closed...I am tired of the internet... all internet access for me is closing". Some of the addresses were to subscribe to various mailing lists. Many bounced back confirmation emails, asking to prove that I really wanted to subscribe, while others just subscribed me automatically (which will now force me to manually unsubscribe).

While most of the "information" was fairly useless, I suddenly had the opportunity to peek into the lives of people I had no association with whatsoever - connected only by spammer. I felt like reaching out and commiserating with those who were sick of the spam and wondered if I should congratulate those with new jobs. However, there was no time for that, I had more erroneous spam fallout to deal with.

Next, came the responses. I, like many people, often wonder what sorts of people actually respond to spam emails. For years, it has been beaten into my head that you never, under any circumstance, respond to a spam email. It just shows that you're a live human being, making your email address more valuable. I'm still shocked when I come across people who haven't heard this. However, they are out there, and they come in all different shapes and sizes. I have their emails to prove it.

There are the confused, but polite people. One woman wrote me a nice message saying that a "horrible" mistake had been made, and that she had not replied to my online dating ad. She did warn me, however, that there are "plenty of strange people out there" and that I should be careful. How nice. Another woman couldn't remember what she had said in her reply to my non-existent online dating profile and wanted to be reminded. A few others just asked who I was.

Then there are the unsubscribers, who are under the unfortunate delusion that asking spammers to take them off their list will help. They send simple messages saying simply "unsubscribe" or "unsubscribe, please", as if that will ever get to the actual spammer, or that they would actually pay any attention to it.

Lastly, are the angry, but clueless. I feel their pain, but they need to find a better outlet. I received emails telling me things I never knew (and find unlikely) about my lineage and suggesting I go places I have no interest in going, using all sorts of language you wouldn't use in polite company. I also received a threatening letter saying that I would be hearing from some company's corporate lawyer.

None of these people stopped to think that it was odd that my email address includes, pretty clearly, my name - which is neither Chris nor Ali. With the number of spam messages that go out every day, I wonder if these people reply to them all. I guess, for some people with anger management problems, this is a kind of outlet. All day, every day, respond angrily to spam messages, and maybe it will have a calming effect on your life.

What's scary is that, for the most, part, I only saw the bounced messages. They continued for approximately 36 hours, and then stopped abruptly. In the end, about 500 email messages bounced back to me, so I can only guess at how many thousands of poor, unsuspecting email boxes are currently dealing with spam sent with my email address as the reply-to. I apologize to all of you, even if I had nothing to do with it. I don't want to date you, and please, feel no compulsion to look at the web page in the email.

Most people agree that spam is evil. It's a waste of time and a general nuisance. I can argue against spam from a variety of levels. It's bad for the internet. It's bad for users. It's bad for business. It's just bad. Luckily, there's a rapidly growing industry of companies (and simply concerned individuals) creating software solutions to help stop the spam menace. While there are debates over how well any of these systems work, it is possible to at least reduce your spam intake. Personally, I use a spam filter that is pretty effective in reducing my spam load to a mostly manageable level.

However, with something like this, there simply is no effective preventative measure in place. The spammers spoof the reply-to, making it whatever they want - so it never even touches my mail server at all. My inbox gets bombarded because there's no simple way to filter out the bounced messages since they are all so different. It's difficult to track down a spammer normally - and more so when the spam isn't even sent to you. Despite the fact that my address was the reply-to, it seems the spammer never sent me the message directly. I found a bounce message that showed the full headers and tracked it back. The email came from a mail server in the Philippines, and pointed to a website hosted in China, owned by a company in London. Tracking down the actual spammer would likely be close to impossible. Assuming they could be found, suing them would be nearly impossible as well, not to mention costly.

One potential solution to this would be to require every outgoing email to have a verified identifier of some sort, so that any email can automatically be traced back to the original sender. This (as does every solution) brings up other problems. There are benefits to anonymous email, and we wouldn't want to take that away (though, perhaps you could limit the number of emails that could be sent anonymously to prevent bulkmailers from abusing the system).

In the end, though, this sort of stunt has killed off the tiniest amount of support I had for spammers. These spammers stand behind their First Amendment rights to speak their minds (which is an argument that can be shot full of holes in a second). In this case, though, the spammer made no use of any First Amendment rights. What they did was just mean and nasty and a complete waste of my time.

Who replies to spam (4, Funny)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289297)

I can think of a few. People looking for:
  • Penis emlargements;
  • Viagra;
  • Boob jobs;
  • Sex;
  • Porn;
  • Rebuilt credit;
  • Credit cards;
  • Cheap mortgages;
  • Cheap health insurance;
  • Cheap dental insurance;
  • An easy way to make millions from home with little effort!;
  • University Diplomas;
  • Free anything; and, of course
  • Spam lists.
Spammers try to sell (gullible) people what they might buy, never what they won't. I've yet to see a spammer selling flights to Mars - although I do predict it will be a growth area for spammers in 20 years time.

Re: Who replies to spam (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289353)


> I can think of a few. People looking for:
...
> Spam lists.

Don't forget people who want to be good citizens and help Col. Wassisname get a few million dollars out of Nigeria.

But yeah, if supply and demand really works then spam lists and spamware must be in the highest demand.

one of our competitors got spoof spam from us... (1)

captainfugacity (639946) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289298)

Our competitor's mail server bounced an email back to us which we had never sent. When I talked with their techs about it they told me that the same chinese company had been spamming them from our email address for more than a year. No one in their office spoke chinese so they just put up filters. I like to wonder how many prospective customers received the same spam.

Am I missing something? (2, Interesting)

why-is-it (318134) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289304)

Why do we just not modify the mailer daemons to do a forward and reverse DNS lookup whenever another host attempts to send it mail. If the domain the mail originates from does not resolve, or the source IP address of the sender is not registered to the same domain that the mail originates from, the message is considered SPAM and the connection dropped.

Why wouldn't that work to vastly reduce the amount of SPAM?

Re:Am I missing something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5289418)

we do that with our mail servers here at exit109.com

Report them to the FBI (1)

KalvinB (205500) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289307)

I had my hotmail address spoofed and when I got bounced messages I simply forwarded them to the FBI. I claimed it was identity theft. I'm not sure if the FBI saw it that way but so far it hasn't happened again.

Ben

Re:Report them to the FBI (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5289349)

Yeah, the FBI has nothing better to do than make sure your free Hotmail address is safe. Mulder and Scully will be right over.

Re:Report them to the FBI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5289425)

Funniest post read in ages!!!

I feel his pain, but... (1)

The Ape With No Name (213531) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289309)

until someone ferrets out the big business interests behind spam, nothing will be done about it. I know this sounds like a conspiracy theory, but there has been no effective (US) legislation against spam. Whenever you see toothless legislation, you need to look for the parties pulling the teeth. Who are they? Are there people lobbying against making spam illegal? Why? It is important to remember that spam is not a free speech issue. The Supreme Court has said, back in 1970, that we can not be compelled to hear speech in our own homes. Maybe that is testable, but let's get a law on the books that flushes out the spammers and, more importantly, the parties willing to do amicus briefs for them.

gone are the days of headers (1)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289315)



I remember a while back, if you didn't like someone you would change your reply to address to their e-mail address then subscribe to every form of e-mail news letter there was. This soon stopped since most subsciption services now require approval from that address. This seems to just be another version of the same thing. Think how easy it could be to get someone fired. By the time you tracked down who did it the damage was done. The feature needs to be removed I think from e-mail clients. Or better yet pop servers need to add some kind of manditory header.

I dont need no steekin karma (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5289325)

Regular readers of Techdirt will remember that two months ago I got hit with a "spam attack" of sorts where a spammer put my personal email address as the "reply-to" in a series of porn spam emails - meaning that approximately 500 bounce messages, autoresponders, and angry replies all came directly to my inbox in approximately 36 hours. It was not a fun experience, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone - but it does appear to be happening with increasing frequency to plenty of people. Two weeks ago, a friend of mine contacted me, afraid that someone had hijacked her email when she was a victim of such an attack. All the major news articles talking about spam seem to ignore this sort of attack. I've decided that since this does appear to be a growing issue, I would simply publish the article I wrote about it here. Click "Read More" below to read the entire story about my short-life as an unintentional spammer - where I explain just what sorts of people actually do reply to spam, and what they say.

My Short Life As An Unintentional Spammer
by Mike Masnick

Ever wonder what sorts of emails end up in a spammer's email database? Want to know who actually responds to spam and what they say? Want to know the myriads of formats (and languages) a bounced email message can take? I can now tell you all of this. Without my knowledge, I recently became an accidental porn spammer.

When I got home one evening a few weeks ago, I noticed that I had more than the expected amount of email waiting for me. A quick glance through the inbox showed about fifty "bounced" emails - saying that email addresses of people I had emailed did not exist. The problem with this, of course, was that I hadn't actually emailed anyone.

It did not take long to figure out what happened. While some bounces simply told me that the recipient didn't exist, others included the original text of the email I had supposedly sent. It claimed to be from someone named "Chris" or "Ali" and was a reply to an alleged message from an online dating site. Chris and Ali apologized for taking so long to reply, and nervously suggested that the recipient find out more information about them by going to a website. Clearly, this was porn spam. Out of principal I won't visit the websites that were in the spam messages.

The problem was, I hadn't sent these messages at all. I'm not Chris or Ali. I don't use dating sites. I don't have a porn website. I don't send spam.

One of the popular "tricks" among spammers nowadays is to set the "reply-to" address as the same as the recipient's email address. That cuts out on the problems of bounce mails, and also has a psychological effect on recipients who are curious what email they've sent themselves. Most spam filters have figured out ways to still capture these spam messages (though, I'm now hearing stories of legitimate emails that people send to themselves being classified as spam). I've received plenty of these types of spam, and most are filtered away, never to be bothered with.

It seems that this particular spammer took things one step further, and made the "reply-to" address for all of his spam message set to my personal email address. If anyone looked at the headers, it was clear that I had nothing to do with the email whatsoever. However, most mail servers aren't so smart.

With any spam list, there's a certain percentage of "bad" or outdated email addresses. Generally speaking, a server that receives an email for someone they don't have an account for will "bounce" the message. Those bounces go to the person who sent the message - normally found in the "reply-to" line. Since my email address was in the reply-to line, all those bounces started coming my way, regrettably informing me that my pornographic spam emails had not found their intended recipient.

After dealing with the rapidly growing desire to reach through the internet and strangle whatever lower-than-life scum did this to my email address, I resigned myself to looking at this from an anthropological perspective. Suddenly, I was in a position to offer information on things that few others would (hopefully) ever willingly have access to.

Should anyone want it for research purposes, I now have a fairly large collection of bounce messages. It appears there is no standard format for a bounce message (which, by the way, makes them painfully difficult to filter). They have infinitely different subject lines. They say different things in the body of the message, sometimes nicely, sometimes rudely. They show up in different languages with different explanations. Some admit that the account has been closed due to too much spam. Others simply don't exist any more (if they ever did at all). Some bounces quote the original message; some don't. Some include full headers; some don't. Who knew there was such variety in how mail servers bounce their email?

Beyond the bounce messages were all sorts of auto-responders. It seems that some of the email addresses in the spammer's database were emails people used to send responses to those who "request more info". Suddenly I was receiving huge files of information that I really had no use for whatsoever. I also found out about a number of people who were on vacation that week, or who had recently switched jobs. One even had an auto-responder saying "this is closed...I am tired of the internet... all internet access for me is closing". Some of the addresses were to subscribe to various mailing lists. Many bounced back confirmation emails, asking to prove that I really wanted to subscribe, while others just subscribed me automatically (which will now force me to manually unsubscribe).

While most of the "information" was fairly useless, I suddenly had the opportunity to peek into the lives of people I had no association with whatsoever - connected only by spammer. I felt like reaching out and commiserating with those who were sick of the spam and wondered if I should congratulate those with new jobs. However, there was no time for that, I had more erroneous spam fallout to deal with.

Next, came the responses. I, like many people, often wonder what sorts of people actually respond to spam emails. For years, it has been beaten into my head that you never, under any circumstance, respond to a spam email. It just shows that you're a live human being, making your email address more valuable. I'm still shocked when I come across people who haven't heard this. However, they are out there, and they come in all different shapes and sizes. I have their emails to prove it.

There are the confused, but polite people. One woman wrote me a nice message saying that a "horrible" mistake had been made, and that she had not replied to my online dating ad. She did warn me, however, that there are "plenty of strange people out there" and that I should be careful. How nice. Another woman couldn't remember what she had said in her reply to my non-existent online dating profile and wanted to be reminded. A few others just asked who I was.

Then there are the unsubscribers, who are under the unfortunate delusion that asking spammers to take them off their list will help. They send simple messages saying simply "unsubscribe" or "unsubscribe, please", as if that will ever get to the actual spammer, or that they would actually pay any attention to it.

Lastly, are the angry, but clueless. I feel their pain, but they need to find a better outlet. I received emails telling me things I never knew (and find unlikely) about my lineage and suggesting I go places I have no interest in going, using all sorts of language you wouldn't use in polite company. I also received a threatening letter saying that I would be hearing from some company's corporate lawyer.

None of these people stopped to think that it was odd that my email address includes, pretty clearly, my name - which is neither Chris nor Ali. With the number of spam messages that go out every day, I wonder if these people reply to them all. I guess, for some people with anger management problems, this is a kind of outlet. All day, every day, respond angrily to spam messages, and maybe it will have a calming effect on your life.

What's scary is that, for the most, part, I only saw the bounced messages. They continued for approximately 36 hours, and then stopped abruptly. In the end, about 500 email messages bounced back to me, so I can only guess at how many thousands of poor, unsuspecting email boxes are currently dealing with spam sent with my email address as the reply-to. I apologize to all of you, even if I had nothing to do with it. I don't want to date you, and please, feel no compulsion to look at the web page in the email.

Most people agree that spam is evil. It's a waste of time and a general nuisance. I can argue against spam from a variety of levels. It's bad for the internet. It's bad for users. It's bad for business. It's just bad. Luckily, there's a rapidly growing industry of companies (and simply concerned individuals) creating software solutions to help stop the spam menace. While there are debates over how well any of these systems work, it is possible to at least reduce your spam intake. Personally, I use a spam filter that is pretty effective in reducing my spam load to a mostly manageable level.

However, with something like this, there simply is no effective preventative measure in place. The spammers spoof the reply-to, making it whatever they want - so it never even touches my mail server at all. My inbox gets bombarded because there's no simple way to filter out the bounced messages since they are all so different. It's difficult to track down a spammer normally - and more so when the spam isn't even sent to you. Despite the fact that my address was the reply-to, it seems the spammer never sent me the message directly. I found a bounce message that showed the full headers and tracked it back. The email came from a mail server in the Philippines, and pointed to a website hosted in China, owned by a company in London. Tracking down the actual spammer would likely be close to impossible. Assuming they could be found, suing them would be nearly impossible as well, not to mention costly.

One potential solution to this would be to require every outgoing email to have a verified identifier of some sort, so that any email can automatically be traced back to the original sender. This (as does every solution) brings up other problems. There are benefits to anonymous email, and we wouldn't want to take that away (though, perhaps you could limit the number of emails that could be sent anonymously to prevent bulkmailers from abusing the system).

In the end, though, this sort of stunt has killed off the tiniest amount of support I had for spammers. These spammers stand behind their First Amendment rights to speak their minds (which is an argument that can be shot full of holes in a second). In this case, though, the spammer made no use of any First Amendment rights. What they did was just mean and nasty and a complete waste of my time.

Happened to me too (1)

jimmcq (88033) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289327)

It happened to me too a couple years ago... some spammer used my Yahoo account as the 'from' address.

I think I only got one reply from an actual person and hundreds of bounce messages from invalid accounts. Other than having to delete a few hundred extra messages that day it didn't really affect much else.

This is old news for me (4, Interesting)

jfaughnan (115062) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289333)

It's been about two years since I started receiving spam from "myself", or rather some spammer spoofing me. I still get several a day, but mostly they get hung up in my postini filters. I also get several bounce messages a day. For some reason the spammers often use an ancient address in one of my domains that is no longer used.

Curiously, I almost never get anyone writing to me complaining about the spam. That used to happen, but I think most folks have figured out not to reply. I also don't seem to have been blacklisted anywhere (faughnan.com); the blacklist maintainers are apparently smart enough not to be fooled by spoofed fields.

Why did they pick me? I think they like to take addresses that are present in the registrar databases. Or maybe they picked me because I complained about spam and write about ways to stop it (not that hard really, we just need to authenticate the sending service [faughnan.com] rather than the harder task of authenticating the sender).

In any event, sadly this is old news. Good to know it's starting to make its way into the public consciousness though.

His next article will be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5289334)

.. about his experience getting slammed by a few milion geeks when someone spoofed his website on /. ?

Internet growth halted protocol refinement? (4, Interesting)

robslimo (587196) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289335)

Has the rapid growth of the Internet of the last few years caused it to reach the status of an immovable object?

IPv6, which includes security, ummm, mechanisms that could be utilized to curtail spoofing, some forms of DDOS and net abuses in general, but rolling it out seems too be gracial.

New RFC's could be authored that extend, modify or replace those upon which our present mail server's are based, but would... could anyone get them pushed through? Or is the Internet infrastructure so massive that any major advances in concept run smack into the issue of interoperability?

and in other news (3, Insightful)

mark_lybarger (199098) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289336)

it's now illegal to provide any false information while using oral communication. specifically related to, but not limited to, false information regarding the name of the communicator.

spam spam spam. if spam should be illegal, so should any form of unsolicited communication. that includes conversing to persons without their permission at the local pub.

i'm personally in favor of a more liberated
government system, but if we want our legislatures to make rules, let's make it a level playing field , not just fix the annoying problem we have of spam (that is created because of a technical deficiency in the overall system of itself).

solution (1)

adamruck (638131) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289343)

im not sure if this would suit everyones needs, but what I do is have one account with a white list. Family/friends/buisness email only. Everything else is denied.

I have another account for public email. Game accounts(yahoo for instance), registration to forums, and so on. People can spam this account all day if they want.. I could care less.

Slashdotted, Full Article (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5289351)

My Short Life As An Unintentional Spammer
by Mike Masnick

Ever wonder what sorts of emails end up in a spammer's email database? Want to know who actually responds to spam and what they say? Want to know the myriads of formats (and languages) a bounced email message can take? I can now tell you all of this. Without my knowledge, I recently became an accidental porn spammer.

When I got home one evening a few weeks ago, I noticed that I had more than the expected amount of email waiting for me. A quick glance through the inbox showed about fifty "bounced" emails - saying that email addresses of people I had emailed did not exist. The problem with this, of course, was that I hadn't actually emailed anyone.

It did not take long to figure out what happened. While some bounces simply told me that the recipient didn't exist, others included the original text of the email I had supposedly sent. It claimed to be from someone named "Chris" or "Ali" and was a reply to an alleged message from an online dating site. Chris and Ali apologized for taking so long to reply, and nervously suggested that the recipient find out more information about them by going to a website. Clearly, this was porn spam. Out of principal I won't visit the websites that were in the spam messages.

The problem was, I hadn't sent these messages at all. I'm not Chris or Ali. I don't use dating sites. I don't have a porn website. I don't send spam.

One of the popular "tricks" among spammers nowadays is to set the "reply-to" address as the same as the recipient's email address. That cuts out on the problems of bounce mails, and also has a psychological effect on recipients who are curious what email they've sent themselves. Most spam filters have figured out ways to still capture these spam messages (though, I'm now hearing stories of legitimate emails that people send to themselves being classified as spam). I've received plenty of these types of spam, and most are filtered away, never to be bothered with.

It seems that this particular spammer took things one step further, and made the "reply-to" address for all of his spam message set to my personal email address. If anyone looked at the headers, it was clear that I had nothing to do with the email whatsoever. However, most mail servers aren't so smart.

With any spam list, there's a certain percentage of "bad" or outdated email addresses. Generally speaking, a server that receives an email for someone they don't have an account for will "bounce" the message. Those bounces go to the person who sent the message - normally found in the "reply-to" line. Since my email address was in the reply-to line, all those bounces started coming my way, regrettably informing me that my pornographic spam emails had not found their intended recipient.

After dealing with the rapidly growing desire to reach through the internet and strangle whatever lower-than-life scum did this to my email address, I resigned myself to looking at this from an anthropological perspective. Suddenly, I was in a position to offer information on things that few others would (hopefully) ever willingly have access to.

Should anyone want it for research purposes, I now have a fairly large collection of bounce messages. It appears there is no standard format for a bounce message (which, by the way, makes them painfully difficult to filter). They have infinitely different subject lines. They say different things in the body of the message, sometimes nicely, sometimes rudely. They show up in different languages with different explanations. Some admit that the account has been closed due to too much spam. Others simply don't exist any more (if they ever did at all). Some bounces quote the original message; some don't. Some include full headers; some don't. Who knew there was such variety in how mail servers bounce their email?

Beyond the bounce messages were all sorts of auto-responders. It seems that some of the email addresses in the spammer's database were emails people used to send responses to those who "request more info". Suddenly I was receiving huge files of information that I really had no use for whatsoever. I also found out about a number of people who were on vacation that week, or who had recently switched jobs. One even had an auto-responder saying "this is closed...I am tired of the internet... all internet access for me is closing". Some of the addresses were to subscribe to various mailing lists. Many bounced back confirmation emails, asking to prove that I really wanted to subscribe, while others just subscribed me automatically (which will now force me to manually unsubscribe).

While most of the "information" was fairly useless, I suddenly had the opportunity to peek into the lives of people I had no association with whatsoever - connected only by spammer. I felt like reaching out and commiserating with those who were sick of the spam and wondered if I should congratulate those with new jobs. However, there was no time for that, I had more erroneous spam fallout to deal with.

Next, came the responses. I, like many people, often wonder what sorts of people actually respond to spam emails. For years, it has been beaten into my head that you never, under any circumstance, respond to a spam email. It just shows that you're a live human being, making your email address more valuable. I'm still shocked when I come across people who haven't heard this. However, they are out there, and they come in all different shapes and sizes. I have their emails to prove it.

There are the confused, but polite people. One woman wrote me a nice message saying that a "horrible" mistake had been made, and that she had not replied to my online dating ad. She did warn me, however, that there are "plenty of strange people out there" and that I should be careful. How nice. Another woman couldn't remember what she had said in her reply to my non-existent online dating profile and wanted to be reminded. A few others just asked who I was.

Then there are the unsubscribers, who are under the unfortunate delusion that asking spammers to take them off their list will help. They send simple messages saying simply "unsubscribe" or "unsubscribe, please", as if that will ever get to the actual spammer, or that they would actually pay any attention to it.

Lastly, are the angry, but clueless. I feel their pain, but they need to find a better outlet. I received emails telling me things I never knew (and find unlikely) about my lineage and suggesting I go places I have no interest in going, using all sorts of language you wouldn't use in polite company. I also received a threatening letter saying that I would be hearing from some company's corporate lawyer.

None of these people stopped to think that it was odd that my email address includes, pretty clearly, my name - which is neither Chris nor Ali. With the number of spam messages that go out every day, I wonder if these people reply to them all. I guess, for some people with anger management problems, this is a kind of outlet. All day, every day, respond angrily to spam messages, and maybe it will have a calming effect on your life.

What's scary is that, for the most, part, I only saw the bounced messages. They continued for approximately 36 hours, and then stopped abruptly. In the end, about 500 email messages bounced back to me, so I can only guess at how many thousands of poor, unsuspecting email boxes are currently dealing with spam sent with my email address as the reply-to. I apologize to all of you, even if I had nothing to do with it. I don't want to date you, and please, feel no compulsion to look at the web page in the email.

Most people agree that spam is evil. It's a waste of time and a general nuisance. I can argue against spam from a variety of levels. It's bad for the internet. It's bad for users. It's bad for business. It's just bad. Luckily, there's a rapidly growing industry of companies (and simply concerned individuals) creating software solutions to help stop the spam menace. While there are debates over how well any of these systems work, it is possible to at least reduce your spam intake. Personally, I use a spam filter that is pretty effective in reducing my spam load to a mostly manageable level.

However, with something like this, there simply is no effective preventative measure in place. The spammers spoof the reply-to, making it whatever they want - so it never even touches my mail server at all. My inbox gets bombarded because there's no simple way to filter out the bounced messages since they are all so different. It's difficult to track down a spammer normally - and more so when the spam isn't even sent to you. Despite the fact that my address was the reply-to, it seems the spammer never sent me the message directly. I found a bounce message that showed the full headers and tracked it back. The email came from a mail server in the Philippines, and pointed to a website hosted in China, owned by a company in London. Tracking down the actual spammer would likely be close to impossible. Assuming they could be found, suing them would be nearly impossible as well, not to mention costly.

One potential solution to this would be to require every outgoing email to have a verified identifier of some sort, so that any email can automatically be traced back to the original sender. This (as does every solution) brings up other problems. There are benefits to anonymous email, and we wouldn't want to take that away (though, perhaps you could limit the number of emails that could be sent anonymously to prevent bulkmailers from abusing the system).

In the end, though, this sort of stunt has killed off the tiniest amount of support I had for spammers. These spammers stand behind their First Amendment rights to speak their minds (which is an argument that can be shot full of holes in a second). In this case, though, the spammer made no use of any First Amendment rights. What they did was just mean and nasty and a complete waste of my time.

Mirror. (2)

vidnet (580068) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289359)

Mirror! [vidarholen.net]

Coming next... (2, Funny)

Bazman (4849) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289361)

My Short Life as A Slashdotted Person

"So I got this story posted on slashdot after that time gigabytes of bandwidth got used up by that fake porn spam address, and so the site got slashdotted and that used up even more bandwidth until my ISP decided to limit my access, so I got another story posted under 'YRO' on slashdot about that and...."

It happened to my wife! (5, Interesting)

mjh (57755) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289365)

This exact same thing happened to my wife. At the time, she had an email address "@iname.com". Someone posted something to alt.bestiality.something or another with the From and reply-to set to her email address. The actual email was talking about what Julia and her little sister liked to do, and encouraged suitors to respond in email.

Holy crap the email she got! Emails came from people all over the world. An incredibly rare number of them included clothing and were simply introductions. Most of them included an attached nude picture of (I assume) themself (either that or there is a cast of nude pictures of incredibly ugly people floating around somewhere). Some of them demonstrated their sexual experiences with animals. But every single one of them seriously pursuing some sort of sexual relationship with someone that

  1. they had never met
  2. wasn't actually my wife

This whole experience turned my wife off of the internet for a long time.

I was able to track down the original post to alt.bestiality.whatever it was, and tracked it to a posting through deja news. (This was about 5 years ago). But ironically, there was nothing in that post that included "go to this website" or anything like that. The only contact information in it was my wife's email address. At the time, I assumed that the person who did this wanted us to change email addresses so he/she could have the one that we had (which was simply my wife's first name@iname.com).

After tracking it down I sent deja the information and asked them to pursue it. And I changed my wife's email address. We have our own domain now. BUT I still, occasionally login to the iname.com account and empty it. I want that account to stay active forever so that whoever tried this doesn't win.

What would you do if this happened to you? What are the defenses for this kind of thing? The email that came in wasn't spam. It was real email from real people who had real mailboxes. How do you prevent this kind of thing? So most of the antispam techniques that I know of wouldn't have worked. Additionally, we occasionally get emails w/attachments from friends who want to show us pictures of their kids. So blocking all attachments won't work. What should be done?

Do Spammers use bounces to prune their databases? (2, Insightful)

Argyle (25623) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289375)

If so, perhaps spamware like SpamAssassin could be modified to intentionally bounce mail?

I'm just glad... (1)

SoVi3t (633947) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289385)

that it's just mainly e-mail spam, even to this day. I rarely even use my e-mail anymore, because it's too time consuming. I either get spam, or forward messages from stupid people who find some flash animation from 3 years ago, and don't realize I've seen it already. If people need to contact me, they just PM me, or phone me. E-mail is slowly being replaced by instant messaging, and I fear the day that bot ads get out of hand!

Happened to me (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289398)

Several months ago I received spam with a return address that I recognized - it was the address of an old friend of mine from high school, whom I'd been out of touch with for a few years. I tried sending her e-mail, and the address still worked! I explained how I came across her address; she thought that was pretty weird.

A couple months later, I received a few "user unknown" bounces. An old e-mail address of mine is apparently being used as the From address for some spam. Fortunately I only got a few bounces and no replies, but I'm sure it'll happen again.

I hate the idea of spam going out with my e-mail address on it. It's like being falsely accused of doing something horrible.

My Short Life As An Unintentional Slashdot Spammer (1)

f00f42 (599068) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289399)

Posted by f00f on Wednesday February 12, @01:50 ish PM
from the you've-got-slashdotted dept.
Mike Masnick writes "Freerange writes "Mike Masnick wrote up his experience getting slammed"" and Viola! I get slammed again .. by F-iN Slashdot users! a somewhat new kind of spam attack that doesn't get much hype (yet?). A spammer reported his personal website address as the main link for a slashdot post of spam, with interesting results for Mike: "I can now answer the questions 'who clicks on slashdot?' and (should anyone ever wonder) 'IN RUSSIA slashdot XXXs you' messages " From F00F

Something similar happened to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5289404)

It wasn't my email address, but several people in my office got junk email where the sender's display name was my name. Fortunately my coworkers were not clueless enough to believe I had actually sent it, and they had a good sense of humor. As if I'd be selling electric scooters.

What if that message had been pornographic and sent to a technically clueless executive? Something needs to be done, but I've got no ideas...

virii, too (1)

scrotch (605605) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289407)

For the last year or so, some of our users have been getting email from virus protection software stating that their message to whoever contained a virus. Normal, except that our users had never sent email to that address (confirmed by the mail logs) and usually didn't recognize the recipient or their address.

We assume that whatever script was sending out the virus was using its gathered list of addresses as both "To" and "From" headers. Kind of smart, kind of stupid, plenty evil.

spoof all spam from.... (1)

Moray_Reef (75398) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289410)

president@whitehouse.gov

My data is different (1)

rworne (538610) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289417)

I was Joe-jobbed last year on my Hotmail account.

I knew something was amiss when my normal 10-20 spam-a-day account suddenly told me my mailbox was full and it was rejecting e-mails. I log in and find over 3 pages of bounces from all sorts of mail programs. Some of the responses were from auto-reply responders, and not a single one was from a real live human.

This deluge continued for another 3 days then suddenly stopped.

The oddest thing about it was I never got a peep from Hotmail's abuse or security departments. Either they knew I was Joe-jobbed or they simply didn't care. I feel it was the latter.

Easy way to block this type of spam (1)

luzrek (570886) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289424)

We have a filter which compares the from address to the TCP/IP and path the email took to arrive. If the address and the IP address don't match, the e-mail is rejected.

Replying can help stop spam... (4, Interesting)

Phoenix (2762) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289427)

...if it's a legit company who has someone who has a person actually reading the replies.

This is a letter I sent off to a company who offered me ways to enlarge my breasts. Being male and having no desire for hooters I felt obliged to reply.

----------

Do you people simply not bother to see to whom this message is going to? Do you not bother to do market research to see if I'm even going to be able to use the product? I am a man. I have a penis and not breasts. I am a guy, a bloke packing a "willie", a "johnson", "meat and two veg", a "one-eyed trouser snake", a "little fellow", a thingie, the "outy" parts to match up with the "inny" bits of the people to whom you should be sending this spam to and not me and my "Collection of dangly bits".

To put it simply people..."A DICK"

I have no interest in your product for the enlargement of breasts and request that you remove me from your list.

Thank You,
[name removed]
BTW: I'm also happy with the size of my naughty bits and request that you not send me information on that product should you offer that as well.

----------

To which I actually got this as a response:

----------
ROFL

Sir we are deeply sorry that you have recieved this advertisment and we are taking you off our contact list. We thank you for your polite and amusing letter.

Again sorry for the inconvience
----------

That was in August and to this day I have not seen any messages offering to give me "Huge...tracts of Land" since that date.

Sometimes it pays to answer a spam

Phoenix

I had this happen to me... (1)

doce (31638) | more than 11 years ago | (#5289428)

I had this happen to me about a year ago. Very painful. As far as I could ever tell, the spammer was in *.it and was sending through an open relay in *.jp. I complained to the open relay and luckily got ahold of someone who spoke as least as good english as I speak japanese. After several misunderstandings, we got things straightened out, they closed their relay... and I never got any messages or bounces ever again.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?