Here’s To The Spammers

I got an email from Josh Mamis this morning. Josh was the publisher of the New Haven Advocate. He now does God’s work for United Way.

Hey, on top of everything else you’ve been hacked.

Great! Except I haven’t been hacked. Unfortunately my identity has been ‘borrowed’ by spammers. I am not alone.

The email Josh received used my name, but look at the ‘from’ and ‘reply to’ addresses. Totally (and to a human, obviously) bogus. Of course the weblink at the bottom is the reason this spam was sent.

So why use my name? Josh knew the email wasn’t from me, but his mail provider did not.

I can’t vouch for his ‘collectors edition’ account, but with Gmail anyone in my address book is ‘white listed.’ If I know you, Gmail assumes you can’t be spamming me.

Here’s an example that came in this morning (All these images will be more easily readable if you click on them).

Erin has suffered the same fate as me!

The better spam prevention tools become, the harder spammers work! There is no charge to send email. Email protocols were designed without considering spam or forged return addresses.

Sometimes spam will bounce back to my account because it claimed to be from a bogus address. Often it’s addressed to a bogus account somewhere else. So, a message from one non-existent account to another non-existent account. To spammers this wasted energy is part of the cost of doing business–close to zero!

Where I see the most spam is on my blog. Here’s an example from the five dozen I manually deleted today.

The spammers want their website’s URL mentioned to get more weight from Google. Search engines consider frequently cited sites more valuable. Internet importance is based on the friends you keep.

By sneakily connecting their product name to the word ‘scam’ this spammer was trying to rank higher than those actually calling him that! Notice this comment had absolutely nothing to do with the entry it was attached to.

Akismet, an anti spam plug-in which comes with WordPress (but is often not turned on), claims to have thwarted 807,888 spams on, including 15,559 this month alone! Of those 800k it only missed 91.

Akismet claims a 99.98% accuracy rate on my site. Not bad, but I still use a second anti-spam plug-in in the same way you might have a double lock on your door.

As long as there’s money to be made there will be spam. Someone’s buying the crap they’re advertising!

Here Comes The Spam

Since the bog has been up with Wordpress (under 24 hours and only now beginning to be seen by Google) I’ve gotten 46 comments. 41 were spam!

While setting up this new iteration of the blog I made a decision–all my older entries would again be open for comments. A few years ago faced with a plethora of blog spam comments were shut off after a week or two.

You know what spam is, but blog spam? It’s much more insidious!

Did you create your own blog or did a program do it? Could you please respond? 18 – Leila Caracci

Looks harmless, right? Except Leila’s email address says she’s There’s more.

My blog’s comment form allows you to enter a website address. Leila/Gail has attached MLBH0TD0G.TK (I have sanitized the site by substituting zeros). There lies the rub.

If that comment had gotten posted, accompanied by that URL, the named website would get a little rub of my Google glory. It would rank a tiny bit higher in searches. Multiply that by hundreds or thousands of sites and the effect can become enormous.

I would have spotted this on my own, but WordPress comes with Akismet, a filter which performs the job silently and very well.

This blog is great. How did you come up witht he idea? 6 3 4

That’s another one appealing to my ego. Notice the random numbers at the end to try and throw off filtering. It didn’t work.

Great site! Your writing is so fresh compared to most other bloggers. Thanks for writing when you get the chance to, I’ll be sure to keep visiting!

That’s another with a non-matching email/name combo. The linked website soft sells French Press coffee makers with an affiliate link to Amazon. These folks are resourceful.

Any time anyone has something of value others want a piece of it, like my Google karma. What the Internet does is make tiny inconsequential pieces easy to aggregate. I would guess getting many Geoff’s to post your URL produces significant income for little effort!

Since the bog has been up with WordPress (under 24 hours and only now beginning to be seen by Google) I’ve gotten 46 comments. 41 were spam!

As long as Akismet holds its ground I’ll keep everything open. I am only marginally optimistic.