Spam

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Sorry, Not Sorry: WHOIS Data Must Remain Public

In March, I posted a call to action to those of us in the community who have the inclination to fight against a movement to redact information critical to anti-abuse research. Today, I felt compelled to react to some of the discussions on the ICANN discussion list dedicated to the issue of WHOIS reform: Sorry, not sorry: I work every working hour of the day to protect literally hundreds of millions of users from privacy violating spam, phish, malware, and support scams. more

EFF on Goodmail: Further Confusing an Already Confused Issue

Cindy's piece on the EFF website seems to be a bit of a pastiche, with elements taken out of various articles (some outright wrong, some merely misinformed) that have been doing the rounds of the media for quite a while now about Goodmail. She started off comparing AOL and Goodmail with the old email hoax about congress taxing email. That same line was used in a CircleID post by Matt Blumberg, CEO & Chairman of Returnpath... Various other quotes from different places - Richard Cox from Spamhaus on CNN for example. However a lot of the quotes in those articles are being based on wrong or out of context assumptions, starting with one that goes "AOL is going to remove all its existing whitelists and force people to use Goodmail". more

Abusive Anti-Anti-Spam Scheme a Dreadful Strategy

A new company called Blue Security purports to have an innovative approach to getting rid of spam. I don't think much of it. As I said to an Associated Press reporter: "It's the worst kind of vigilante approach," said John Levine, a board member with the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail. "Deliberate attacks against people's Web sites are illegal." more

We Hate Spam Except, Of Course, When It's Inconvenient to Do So

Paul Graham is a smart guy who popularized naive Bayesian spam filtering in 2002 with A Plan for Spam and has organized a series of informal spam conferences at MIT. Earlier this month he was shocked and horrified to discover that his web site, hosted at Yahoo where he used to work, had appeared on the widely used Spamhaus blacklist... more

GDPR Didn't Affect Spam? Not So Fast

I have recently become aware of a blog post from Recorded Future that attempts to analyze the effects of the GDPR on online security. Unfortunately, it starts by asking an irrelevant question and then goes on to use irrelevant metrics to come to a meaningless answer. The premise of Recorded Future's article - that spammers would send more spam and register more domains because GDPR came into effect - tells us nothing useful about how GDPR affects anything. It's the wrong question... more

Implications of Canada's CASL - Toughest Anti-Spam Law the World Has Ever Seen

While Canada was dragging the chain when it came to introducing anti-spam legislation, it is now making up for lost time. Ottawa's new law -- expected to be operational early this year -- has severe fines for violations and is viewed by some as too tough. Known as CASL, the new law aims to crack down on spammers and mailing list companies but in doing so, tightly regulates the way businesses can market to prospective customers via email and online. more

Spam Fighting: Lessons from Jack Bauer?

As I blogged about several months ago, as did numerous other anti-spam bloggers, David Ritz was sued by Jeffrey Reynolds and a judge in North Dakota agreed with Reynolds. At the heart of the case was that Ritz engaged in anti-spam activities using techniques known only to a small subset of advanced computer users, and used these techniques maliciously against Reynolds... Back in the olden days of spam fighting, some anti-spammers used to use malicious techniques against spammers in order to shut them down... more

IGF Meeting Blacklisted

I got an e-mail from someone currently attending the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) meeting in Geneva. The e-mail ended up in my spam folder because the IP address used for the wireless LAN at the meeting is on a spambot/virusbot blacklist, namely cbl.abuseat.org. Apparently some guy there has his computer infected by a spambot or a virusbot... more

An Internet Security Operations Viewpoint of IGF

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is an annual UN conference on Internet governance which was held this year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The topics discussed range from human rights online to providing Internet access in developing countries. A somewhat secondary topic of conversation is Internet security and cyber-crime mostly limited to policy and legislative efforts. Techies and Internet security industry don't have much to do there, but I have a few updates for us from the conference. more

Wall Street Journal Article on Whois Privacy

Today's Wall Street Journal discusses the fight over Whois privacy. The article on the front page of the Marketplace section starts by discussing how the American Red Cross and eBay use the Whois database to track down scammers: "Last fall, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the American Red Cross used an Internet database called "Whois" that lists names and numbers of Web-site owners to shut down dozens of unauthorized Web sites that were soliciting money under the Red Cross logo. Online marketplace eBay Inc. says its investigators use Whois hundreds of times a day..." more

Report on Reaction to Zuccarini's Arrest

On September 3, 2003, United States federal law enforcement officers arrested the notorious John Zuccarini accused of allegedly creating misleading domain names to deceive children and direct them to pornographic websites. Zuccarini's arrest is the first to be made under the Truth in Domain Names Act, which took effect earlier this year prohibiting people from creating misleading domain names as a means to deceive children into viewing content that's harmful to minors, or tricking adults into clicking on obscene websites. What follows is a collection of commentaries made by experts in response to this event...
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Spam Continues to Drop

The chart in this post shows the amount of inbound mail that we see, both spam and non-spam, over the past three and a half years. You can see in the above that the amount of good mail that we see has continued to increase over time. This is because of an increased customer base, not because the total amount of good mail worldwide has gone up... However, the amount of spam has plummeted from 23,000 in mid 2010 to 5000 now, a drop of over 75%. The contrast couldn't be starker -- spammers are not spamming as much anymore. It almost looks like the battle against spam is almost over. What's still left to do? more

Fight Phishing With Branding

Phishing, stealing personal information by impersonating a trusted organization, is a big problem that's not going away. Most antiphishing techniques to date have attempted to recognize fake e-mail and fake web sites, but this hasn't been particularly effective. A more promising approach is to brand the real mail and real web sites. more

Hypertext Mail Protocol (a.k.a. Stub Email): A Proposal

Back in the days of dial-up modems and transfer speeds measured in hundreds of bits per second, unwanted email messages were actually felt as a significant dent in our personal pocketbooks. As increases in transfer speeds outpaced increases in spam traffic, the hundreds of unwanted emails we received per week became more of a nuisance than a serious financial threat. Today sophisticated spam filters offered by all major email providers keep us from seeing hundreds of unwanted emails on a daily basis, and relatively infrequently allow unwanted messages to reach our coveted Inboxes. So, to some degree, the spam problem has been mitigated. But this "mitigation" requires multiple layers of protection and enormous amounts of continually-applied effort. more

Challenges in Anti-Spam Efforts

Without commenting on the particulars as they relate to Goodmail -- especially since I am on the advisory board for Habeas, a competitor -- let me note that public discussion is largely missing the nature of the current Internet mail realities and the nature of the ways we can deal with them. There are two articles in the current issue of the Internet Protocol Journal, of which I wrote one, that provide some useful background about this reality. Simply put, Internet mail needs to sustain spontaneous communications... more