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Domain Pulse 2008: Day 2 Focuses on DNS Security

Day two of Domain Pulse 2008 last Friday (see review of day one) focused on online security issues giving the techies amongst us details of security issues, and the more policy-orientated amongst us something to chew on in a few other presentations. Kieren McCarthy, these days of ICANN, also gave some insights into the drawn out sex.com drama with more twists and turns than the average soap opera has in a year! And Randy Bush outlined the problems with IPv6. Among other presentations... more»

Russia Becoming a Spam Superpower

Russia might be a country trying to regain superpower status, but it has already reached it in one less welcome area -- the amount of spam it sends to the world. According to Sophos's Q4 2007 spam report, the country now deserves the moniker of 'spam superpower' having seen its share of total volumes rise dramatically over the last year, to put it in firmly in second place behind arch-rival, the US. more»

Ralsky Indicted, CAN-SPAM is Still Useless

Well, I read the indictment (available here from Spamhaus.) It's a long litany of criminal behavior, primarily pump and dump stock fraud of a long list of penny stocks from the US and China. Ralsky is described as the "chief executive officer and overall leader" of the scheme... The thing that strikes me about this indictment is that although it includes a lot of CAN SPAM charges, everything Ralsky and Co. did was already illegal under conventional fraud and computer tampering laws. more»

CircleID's Top 10 Posts of 2007

Here is a list of the most viewed news and blog postings that were featured on CircleID in 2007. Best wishes for 2008. more»

Study Finds 90 to 95 Percent of All Email in 2007 Spam

The study, based on an analysis of more than one billion daily email messages sent to its more than 50,000 customers worldwide, found a staggering percentage of all email sent in 2007 was spam, increasing from an estimated 85 to 90 percent of email in 2006. From the report: "This growing proportion is even more significant when compared to 2004, when the federal CAN-SPAM Act, which set parameters for sending unsolicited email and defined penalties for spammers, went into effect. At that time spam was 70 percent of all email. In 2001, spam accounted for only five percent of email messages." more»

Spam Kings: Book Review (Part 1)

A few months ago, I purchased the book Spam Kings, but only recently managed to get around to reading and finishing it. In case you've never read it, it chronicles the stories of some spammers and the anti-spammers who fought them. These anti-spammers are not people like myself in industry; rather, they are users who have received spam who hunt down the source of the spam and work to bring them down. more»

USA Today: Spam Is Bad

A reasonably well informed article in Thursday's USA Today reminds us that in 2004 Bill Gates said the spam problem would be solved in early 2006, but here at the end of 2007 there's more spam than ever. They go through a laundry list of problems of spambots, new kinds of PDF and MP3 spam, and phishing, and a list of of partial or non-solutions including filters, walled gardens, and an odd system called Boxbe, a hybrid of whitelists, challenge/response, and pay for delivery. Oh, and Bill says he never said spam would be solved... more»

U.S. Internet Control Threatens to Overtake Discussions at IGF Meeting

Debate over U.S. control of the Internet's core system threatens to overtake the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), an international meeting in Brazil, next week. The meeting was meant to cover topics including spam, free speech and cheaper access. more»

How Big is the Storm Botnet?

The Storm worm has gotten a lot of press this year, with a lot of the coverage tending toward the apocalyptic. There's no question that it's one of the most successful pieces of malware to date, but just how successful is it? Last weekend, Brandon Enright of UC San Diego gave a informal talk at the Toorcon conference in which he reported on his analysis of the Storm botnet. According to his quite informative slides, Storm has evolved quite a lot over the past year... more»

Thank Heavens for Class Action Lawyers

If you had an e-mail address any time in the past six years, you've probably gotten spam for something called VigRX for Men, with fairly specific promises that it will make you, ah, manlier. I always wondered how many nitwits could fall for this kind of nonsense. Thanks to a recent class action settlement, we now know that there have been quite a lot of them. A class action suit filed in 2001 in Colorado settled recently, with some quite amazing info in the documents available at http://lemsettlement.com. LEM stands for Leading Edge Marketing, the name used by the defendants for several companies in the US, Canada, and the Bahamas. more»

Zango Verdict is Good News for Spam Filters and Blacklists

Zango, a company that used to be called 180 solutions, has a long history of making and distributing spyware. (See the Wikipedia article for their sordid history.) Not surprisingly, anti-spyware vendors routinely list Zango's software as what's tactfully called "potentially unwanted". Zango has tried to sue their way out of the doghouse by filing suit against anti-spyware vendors. In a widely reported decision last week, Seattle judge John Coghenour crisply rejected Zango's case, finding that federal law gives Kaspersky complete immunity against Zango's complaint... more»

Spamford Wallace Gets Sued Yet Again

If there were a lifetime achievement award for losing lawsuits for being annoying, Sanford Wallace would be a shoo-in. Fifteen years ago, his junk faxing was a major impetus for the TCPA, the law outlawing junk faxes. Later in the 1990s, his Cyber Promotions set important legal precedents about spam in cases where he lost to Compuserve and AOL. Two years ago, he lost a suit to FTC who sued his Smartbot.net for stuffing spyware onto people's computers. And now, lest anyone think that he's run out of bad ideas, he's back, on the receiving end of a lawsuit from MySpace... more»

Spam Distribution Infrastructure: New Study Finds 94% of Scams Hosted on Individual Web Servers

Computer scientists, Geoff Voelker and Stefan Savage, from UC San Diego have found striking differences between the infrastructure used to distribute spam and the infrastructure used to host the online scams advertised in these unwanted email messages. This discovery is believed to help aid in the fight to reduce spam volume and shut down illegal online businesses and malware sites. While hundreds or thousands of compromised computers may be used to relay spam to users, most scams are hosted by individual Web servers. more»

Google Acquires Grandcentral… and Enters Further into the PSTN Side of Telecommunications

News breaking out today is that Google has acquired GrandCentral for something around $50 million. GrandCentral is a service that gives you one phone number that can ring multiple numbers, provide one common voicemail - and all sorts of the other features (see "howitworks" for a list of features)... So will we ultimately see voicemail inside of Gmail? One would assume that we will eventually see integration with GoogleTalk... more»

AOL Spammer Pleads Guilty, Facing Up To 11 Years in Prison

A Brooklyn man has pleaded guilty today for sending spam emails to over 1.2 million AOL subscribers in a scheme that foiled the Internet company's spam-filtering system. Reuters reports: "Adam Vitale, 26, pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan to breaking anti-spam laws. He was caught making a deal with a government informant that sent spam e-mails advertising a computer security program in return for 50 percent of the product's profits, prosecutors said." more»