What Is Spam And How To Fight It

Man is an ambiguous thing. On the one hand, he created a lot of good. On the other hand, if man notices something, he cannot but do some shit (there is always a fly in the ointment). And the wonderful phenomenon of electronic mail has not evaded his attention. The fly is so called spam, that is unwanted ad e-mails.

Somebody may say, “What’s the problem? There’s a lot of advertising everywhere. Don’t read it if you don’t like it”. But there is a but here. You pay for this advertising. First, literally because an Internet connection is not free, basically and you have to pay for the time online spent receiving and reading mail. Second, you spend your time which is money. You might as well skip a TV commercial and not look at a billboard while driving, turn the page in a magazine, but you cannot just ignore spam because you must find your mail in it. The thing is that spammers send their ads to a whole lot of people. Even if 1% of them are interested, the spammers will profit. And they do not give a damn to wasting the time and money of the remaining 99%.

The review of Eurocommission for 2001 suggests that users worldwide waste about $9,000,000,000 annually for reading spam
So, I have zero tolerance toward spam. I believe that it is illegal to send any advertising unless the recipient has agreed to receive it before. For example, a corporate e-mail address is put on the company web page in order to be in touch with actual and potential customers and partners, so it is quite OK to send them business offers that they might be interested in. But it is clear that people put their personal e-mail address on their home page for another reason, unless it is specified so. And if dear spammers read this page, I would recommend them use banners on popular pages and your target will come to you.
By the way, when a company is spamming, it makes one doubt their reasons: what kind of a damn company is it if they do not have finds for civilized promotion?
Right now I want to set back spammers who like to cite various Constitution chapters and mention freedom of speech. Actually freedom has nothing to do with thrusting over, which is spam. Like all demagogs, spammers appeal to brainless people who cannot think over arguments. That is the way the communists in Russia were fooling the stupid people around for scores giving attractive slogans which were rotten on the ground, like “everyone will get according to their needs and everyone will be required according to their abilities” — who is going to determine my needs and abilities? It is no wonder that the commies set their needs at Arab oil tycoons' level and the people’s needs at the level of a pound of sausage a week. So, the same is here: freedom of information distribution means that everyone interested can get access to it, but it in no way means that someone has the right to impose other people what he pleases. Remember: your freedom ends where another’s starts. But if you are too impudent determining the frontiers, you might as well be a spammer.

Spam Defition

Spam is anonymous unsolicited mass mail. Frankly, this is not the final one because some spam may be left out, but everything that responds to the definition is spam definitely.

Main Spam Attributes

If you receive a message that meets at least one of the above criteria — look for the IP address of the sender in the headers and file a complaint to their ISP.

Spam Sorts

1. Offers to buy something or use a service.
2. Messages promoting a web site asking to follow an URL.
3. ‘tell a friend’ letters. When you register at a web service, you are sometimes offered additional advantages (more disk space) if you enter your friends’ e-mail addresses. They will receive an e-mail telling about the service usually with a link to it containing ‘tellafriend’ or ‘referee’. Some people abuse it and specify addresses of strange people. It is not dangerous to click on the link, but by doing so you will obediently do a favor to some cheeky stupid whom you do not know. If you are really interested in the service, type its URL manually. And when you register, give them only your friends’ addresses, if you are sure that they will not mind.
4. Implicit advertising. So, you open your mailbox and see a letter from someone you do not know sent to someone else. You think that you got it by mistake and read it curiously someone telling their friends of a great service without realizing that you are not the only one to receive this e-mail and this is in fact no mistake.
5. Scam. Usually those are e-mails that contain ‘valuable’ information how to make a few hundred grand in a few weeks. All that yu have to do is to wire just $20 for the detailed information. There us no need to epxlain that you will not get anything. If the e-mail contains attachments, never open them.
6. Messages from imbecile idiots. (This might be tautology, but those imbeciles are more stupid than just idiots; the only puzzle is how they managed to learn to use a PC). Usually it is so called chain letters which go: forward this letter to ten of your friends in week and you will be lucky otherwise you will get into trouble. As in point 3, idiots, who lack friends, add people whom they do not know. One must be completely brainless to forward a chain letter. I repeat, you are fully oligophrenic, if you send chain letters.
7. Virus e-mails. It might be possible to understand the motivation of the senders of the above types, but it is barely possible to understand what motivates the ones who send out viruses in bulk. I have doubts that it is people, it must be computers that are glitching. Or some mutant freaks that were tossed to a dustbin by their parents, but managed to survuve and learn primitive programming (unfortunately you do not have to know too much to write a virus). So, when you get e-mails with attached programs, never run them. Also, be careful when you click on attached text files and images: Windows can hide the extension for known file types and name.txt.exe will look like name.txt. Or, if it is name.txt …. spaces… .exe, you can be caught too. If it is a MS Word document, be careful as they contain viruses too. In fact, it is recommended to be very, very careful toward all attachments. even if they come from your friend and it was arranged. Let alone if it was not.

How To Fight Off Spam

 1. When choosing your address, keep away from firstname_lastname@mail.com. The trouble is an address like that is vulnerable even if no one knows it. It is easy to combine using special software.
 2. Keep away from major freemail providers like hotmail. They are constantly attacked by spammers and it does not matter if your address looks like gth3hs_5gh12hh_i@hotmail.com and only you know it. Major servers are often attacked by special software that delivers spam to anyone registered with the server.
 3. Do NOT leave your e-mail address everywhere around (at BBS, forums, chats). Never-ever enter your address at subscription forms for erotic photos. If you do not have a free address, only your ISP one, be particularly careful please! If it does get into a spammer database, you will face a dilemma: either give it up and ask your ISP for another, which means losing your contacts, or taking a lot of trash out of your inbox daily, which can drive you mad. Anyway, think twice before typing your address in any form on the Web. Some sites make money by selling the addresses of their gullible visitors. It is easy: they offer to send an e-card from their page and enter a reply-to address. What is more, if you are adomain owner, it is not recommended to use your main ISP address for your WhoIs records — spammers are hanging around there as well.
 4. Never, never subscribe to erotic photos. Your address will get into a life spam list and you will get more spam than photos (by the way it is no use to unsubscribe).
 5. Get at least two e-mail addresses. Use one of them to correspond directly with your friends and it is possible to leave the other at BBS if feedback is so important for you.
 6. If you do leave your address someplace, do not write it as it is. Write username(at)mail.com or username@domain.com.nospam — if somebody is going to write you, they must be able to understand that the .nospam tag should be removed, but spam software may remove this address from the database when it checks if it is real (spammers do not need addresses that do not work).
Actually, think twice, do you really need to enter your address into someone’s guestbook? Experience shows that 90% of mail sent at the address is spam.
 7. As for the contents of spam messages — don't ever give a damn to reading that bullshit, it is always lies. And. of course, never click on links. If you get spam messages with attachments, never open them, even if the message states that the attachment contains valuable information how to becoem a millionaire in 5 days. Delete the message by pressing Shift+Del. The trouble is that the attachment can turn out to be an executable rather than text, that is a virus, and cause a lot of trouble: steal your credit card numbers, erase the contents of your hard drive, etc.
 8. Use the wonderful program called Magic. You will be able to view the headers of messages in your mail server without downloading them and remove spam. Usually spam contains at least three excalamtion marks at the subejct, which is written in all caps at that, for example: GETTING REALLY RICH!!!!, WHAT CAN YOU GET FOR $20???, FREE VACATION!!!!!, etc. When you see something like that, you can delete it without reading.
 9. Use message rules (filters) in your mail program. Go to the main menu Tools→Message Rules→Mail… (Outlook Express). The most simple and reliable filter must remove from the server anything that does not have your address in the To: or Cc: fields (unless you are subscribed to some mailing lists). If your address is on some lists and you want to receive the mail, create separate rules for the subscriptions that will work before the above filter and put the messages to a folder.
If the above rule will not do for some reason, you can create the following rule: if the From: field contains spammer’s address, the subject contains what was written in the subject of the spam that you received, e.g. GETTING REALLY RICH!!!!, then Delete it from server (not just delete, but exactly from the server). Use the information of all spam that you receive to add to this rule, and you will at least never receive the same spam message again. Just do not create a separate rule for each message, add the information to the first one, making sure that the conditions are or rather than and, that is a condition should look like If Subject contains 'GETTING REALLY RICH!!!!' or 'WHAT CAN YOU GET FOR $20???', or From contains ’spammer1@xxxx.com' or ’spammer2@xxx.com' THEN Delete it from server. Otherwise the rule may not work.
Sometimes clever spammers change subjects and return addresses and send the same messages again and again. It makes it hard to fight though it is not clear why so much effort to make me read the same message that I have already rejected. But spammers are rather stupid.
By the way, in Paragraph 4, before deleting spam, copy the subject and sender address to include them in the above rule.
To copy the information onto Clipboard, right-click the message (in OE), select Properties and go to the Details tab. You can select and copy everything that you want there, and then paste wherever you need.
10. It is not recommended to reply to spam, and especially forward the messages to your friends and CC the spammer.
11. Never write spammers requesting that they remove your address from their list, even if they offer this opportunity — no one is in fact going to remove your address, and your response only serves to confirm that your address is valid and you read spam. Yes, spammers are wicked and dishonest baqstards, never believe them. (All you can do is forward the spam as an attachment to abuse@domain.com, where the second part of the address can be found in the spam header (see above)).
12. You had better e-mail the support service of the company (ISP) that gives spammers access to the Internet. As very few spammers include their real e-mail address provided by the company at their spam messages, use Who Is service or special software. Select a spam message in OE and press Ctrl+F3 to ge the message source (you can also right-click the message as shown in Paragraph 9). Look for the IP address of the sender. For example, here are the headers of some spam that I once received (it is funny that the sender states in the message that I subscribed to it — another trick) — the information to find is red:
(note the line that is but last!!). Select the IP, copy it and paste at the search field of the above WhoIs service. The information that you get is usually enough to find the spammer’s ISP. Occasionaly, you can see an abuse@hhh.hhh address there which is meant for such complaints. Then it is their business to look up in their log books that are automatically created by their servers and find out which user sent the spam.
You can learn more about reading e-mail headers at StopSpam.Org.
13. It is not a good idea to send $20 for ‘valuable’ information how to make $1,000 a week and other schemes. At best, you will receive advice how to do exactly what has been done to you, that is to become a spammer and a scammer. Also do not trust too much offers to share secrets of no-lose casino strategies (you may think it odd yourself that the author of a clever plan like this would share it for ten bucks instead of using it by himself).
14. Register your own small home page, where you will put your contact information — and nothing more (you may add a few words about yourself, but the point is not web design and site creation, but reducing spam flow). If your address is going to be found on the Net, let it be one page rather than hundreds, let alone the means to make it invisible for spammers (see blow). Now, you can give your URL to everyone — in chats, etc.
Right here spammers should be sent to hell. Not that it works, but at least we can wipe their nose. You might have noticed their usual refrain: this message is sent in compliance with Constitution, your address is obtained from open sources. Let us deprive them of this pleasure. First, your address is found on a single page on the Net which has your contact information. And there is a warning next to it: This electronic address is listed here solely as a means of contacting the author of this web site on issues directly related to the site: remarks, suggestions, questions, orders. It is prohibited to use this address otherwise, first of all for email marketing and part of mailing lists. So, spammers, do you like it? Actually, quite seriously this can become the reason for a successful case. It is hard indeed to delimitate spam, and spammers always appeal to freedom of speech, etc. Here they cannot say anything: the person clearly states that he does not want to receive anything from them, which is quite different from a web forum where each message has an e-mail address and everyone is free to understand it anywhere between: ‘contact me if you want to add something to the above, or comment on my message’ (this what normal people think) and ‘send me as much shit as you can’ (twisted spammers’ brain).
15. If you have a web site on the Net where you, quite naturally, put your contact information, use three technics shown below to fight off spam (all or one of them). First, it should be noted that it makes sense to register a special address to put onto your web page. Then it will be easier to make out where spam comes from. Also, it is not a good idea to put your address in each page, it is better to use a single contact page and link to it from the other pages.
The authorship of the first technique is mine. Specify a subject at the mailto> tag (use the ?subject= parameter; you can also use the &body= parameter where you can ask not to change the subject). The idea is that spammers usually send a lot of lettter to lots of people and they will hardly care to see that some of them requires a special subject. If all of them do, spam will not pass! Then it is easy: set up filters that will remove mail that has unmatching subjects. But, you will have to explain to people very well that the subject must not be changed. It is not entirely foolproof.
However, this technique does not prevent your e-mail address from getting into spamlists. The trouble is, as I said, damned spammers search the Net using special software that sniffs pages like searchbots and take out everything that is included in the HREF=mailto: tag or looks like xxxxx@xxx.xxx. But, as they examine page sources rather than look at them, it is possible to exclude all xxxxx@xxx.xxx from the source while HTML and JavaScript means allow to display xxxxx@xxx.xxx on the screen. The simplest option is to write your address as xxxxx(at)xxx.xxx with no mailto, hoping that a wise visitor will understand to use @. But do not rely on wise visitors. Also, spammers might be aware of this trick and set up their software to look for xxxxx(at)xxx.xxx along with xxxxx@xxx.xxx. It is possible xxxxx@xxx.xxxxxxxx@xxx.xxxo present your address as a small picture. Then no one will learn your address unless they visit your site and have a good look at the image. But both the techniques are bad because they create nuisance to your visitors, especially the second.
So, even if you successfully delete all spam from your server, they will continue sending it and one day you will see that removing trash takes longer than actually receiving mail. I do not think that a message like: Checking for messages… 1 (1KB) new, 1000 (5MB) total is nice to see. Let alone that your mailbox may be stuffed when you are on vacation and important mail will bounce instead of waiting for you. So, you must take measures to prevent your address from getting into spamlists. You cannot remove it from your web page, as you need feedback. So, use the two following techniques.

The idea behind the second technique is very simple and obvious. Many programs realize it, for example Criptemail. The trick is that HTML allows two character sets: simple text like A, B, C, and encoding, that is A, B, C, etc. So, you can type something like


in the page source, and get name@domain.com on the screen. And spambots will ignore it because they look for strings that contain the @ sign at the page source. By the way, it is enough to remember the code of the @ sign which is @ and replace this sign with this code in all of your pages (use Replacer, for example). This step will be enough to decrease the amount of spam that you receive.

The third technique is based on JavaScript. A smart solution is provided by the following code:


var name = "username";
var domain = "domain.com";
document.write('<A HREF=\"mailto:' + name + '@' + domain + '\?subject=blah-blah-blah&body= dont change the subject">');
document.write('e-mail me</A>');

I have found a program called Spam Vaccinator. It gives out a code using two last techniques, even a more complicated one. It is shareware. However, you can use free Email Encryptor or something like that at Tim Williams' page.
16. As was mentioned, spam software sniff the Net like searchbots. But searchbots can be controled! Use META tags: type the following in the header of the only page that contains your contact details: <META NAME="Robots" CONTENT="Noindex, Follow"> to prevent this page from indexing. Not that this means is very efficient, but at least it will do you no harm.
17. OK, you may be happy to follow the above recommendations but it is not use as your address has already been listed everywhere on the net, and it is not just spamlists but your friends, clients, etc, and you grudge to lose it all. In this case, use an autoresponder. Most mail servers provide this service. Specify a message like this:
Dear Sir(s):
This is an autoresponder. I no longer use this email address of mine due to it having gotten to spamlists. If you wish to get in touch with me, please visit my contact page http://www.igorkalinin.com/about/contact.en.html. You will find my email address (which must not be used for mass email sending and must not be disclosed to a third party) and other ways of contacting me there. I am sorry for the inconvenience. Thank you for understanding.
Sincerely yours,
Igor Kalinin

By the way. Dear spammers, please send your trash to hex@ukr.net. I promise that every message header (rather than body and attachments) will be studied and a complaint will be sent to your ISP. Usually it means that your account will be closed (and you are lucky if you just dial up and do not subsribe to an ADSL) or warned. Some wicked administrators will black list you and share the information with other ISPs in your town. As for legal action, though it is not commonplace yet, but there have been precedents and in some countries laws are quite strict. So, you see, spamming is fun! . If you are not a motherfucker and wish to contact me, plase visit my contact page.

18. If a damned spammer has really gotten you and nothing helps, it is time to use special software — mail bombers. Actually, it is not advisable because it overloads mail servers and regular mail can be delayed, so try to avoid this means. The idea is that using a mail bomber you can stuff the spammer’s mailbox so he cannot receive mail. In this case you should not use the return address (which is usually fake), look for the feedback or unsubsribe address in the message body.
19. Actually, the best technique to fight spam is to ignore it. Just delete messages as soon as you see $$ or !!!! in the subject. When everybody does so, spam will disappear. It is the stupids that take spam offers and buy something from spammers who are in fact responsible for spam.

On The Brink


How Not To Be A Spammer

As I mentioned, it is not easy to define the line where spam begins and delimitate it and legitimate business use of e-mail. I have an experience. Looking for potential business partners I use e-mail. When searching my town, I can just call but in the country scope it is too expensive. This is where I come to the line quite close. An ISP received my offer and thought that it was spam. It is understandable, as ISPs are the ones who suffer most from spam, so they are allergic to it. But I apologized and gave my arguments, expressing readiness to listen to theirs. We parted as friends, and as for my arguments, here they are. Unlike spammers, I
In this way I was able to use e-mail for business without becoming a spammer. If you want to find someone using e-mail but do not want to be associated with spammers — use the above rules.
If you are interested in this issue, look for further information at the Links section.

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