When spam first became a widespread phenomenon, back, oh, between 15 and 20 years ago, part of the problem in using existing laws to go after spam – or, indeed, in creating new laws specifically addressing spam – was that nobody could really agree on what is spam. What is the definition of spam? It was sort of like that classic line from Justice Potter Stewart – everyone would know it when they saw it, but nobody could quite agree on what “it” was. That all changed when Paul Vixie, founder of Mail Abuse Prevention System (“MAPS” – which is ‘spam’ spelled backwards) and I sat down and hammered out the definitive definition of spam.
Yesterday we featured an article on the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) contest challenging anyone from the public to come up with a way to beat spam phone calls. The reason for expanding their efforts, says the FTC, is because complaints about spam phone calls, or, “robocalls,” more than doubled in April of 2012, from their last high in October 2010 . So what should we do to avoid these nuisance calls until our unknown hero steps forward with the answer?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responding to what they say is a huge surge in automated phone calls, or, “robocalls,” by offering a cash reward and prizes to the person, or group of people, who can thwart these calls in the “FTC Robocall Challenge.” According to the FTC, complaints about robocalls skyrocketed to a high of 212,000 this past April, compared to the last high of 65,000 complaints in October of 2010.
A new crop of scam spam is going around, with subjects like “Copies of Policies” and “Changelog as Promised” and talking about things like the “Ocean, Warehouse or EPLI policy”. They are short – to the point – and spam scams. They contain links that go to malicious sites such as http://abstract.nassassin.com/wp-content/plugins/counterize/mail.htm, http://flexjobb.se/wp-content/plugins/mail.htm, and http://www.39moto.ru/wp-content/plugins/flv-player/mail.htm, and come from sender names including Brock Buchanan, Darien Forbes, A. Simmons, and A. Blanton.
Well, Facebook has finally done it, they’ve found a way to allow unscrupulous marketers to spam your Facebook account. Facebook will allow advertisers to target users based on personal information such as phone numbers, user IDs, and email addresses. In a confirmation to PCMag.com, Facebook relayed their new marketing program which will begin next week, targeting ads to their “existing customers.”
Death by CAPTCHA is a company that has figured out a way to bypass security CAPTCHAs by offering their technology to solve CAPTCHA phrases. While this may sound like celebratory news for those who are tired of face-palming every time they try to read the twisted words provided by websites looking to make things secure for their users, in reality, it is a gateway to spam.
Grum, the world’s third-largest botnet, has been shutdown, according to one of the security researchers who helped take the botnet offline, Atif Mushtaq. Mushtaq, who works for the “malware intelligence lab” FireEye, announced the good news on the security company’s blog yesterday after two intense days battling Grum. You may see less spam related to cheap “Cilais,” “Vigara,” or “Levtira” (misspellings of Cialis, Viagra, and Levitra, respectively) and fewer unwanted messages advertising Rolex watches as a result of the Grum botnet shutdown. With a command and control server in the Netherlands, and additional servers in countries such as Panama and Russia, taking down Grum required international coordination and effort.
Isn’t it frustrating when you receive an SMS text message and it turns out to be SMS spam? Don’t you wish that you could report those spammers to your wireless carrier? Well, you can! Whether you want to report text spam to ATT, T-Mobile, Verizon, or Sprint – or any other North American carrier, it’s as simple as forwarding it right from your phone. Here’s how to do it.
If you were on the Internet in 2005 or 2006, you almost certainly also received spam for an herbal weight loss supplement called ‘Hoodia’, among others, and, if you received spam for Hoodia, then it’s also almost certain that Brian McDaid was behind it. In 2007, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) nabbed McDaid, a chiropractor from Thorndale, Pennsylvania, and charged him with false and deceptive business claims, and several violations of the Federal anti-spam law, CAN-SPAM.
A rash of fake Verizon Wireless account notifications hit the Internet this week, showing outrageous charges that are, supposely, hitting your bill. They have the subject line of either “Thank You for your Verizon Wireless Payment” or “Your Bill Is Now Available”. Of course, the links take you to all sorts of spam and scam sites, so don’t be taken in. Here are some examples of the fake notices, with links to places such as http://integrallisambiental.com.br/k5CGsJe6/index.html, http://pliki.unigroup.pl/MFQanBuj/index.html and http://www.mayphe.com.br/DyXEBK63/index.html.
In a move that is not unheard of, but completely reprehensible, defeated Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is selling off his campaign’s donor and activist email list as the campaign attempts to crawl out of their $4 million hole of debt. And perhaps “slithering” is a better word as Newt is slapping his donors right in the face by not just selling their email addresses to other political campaigns, but to any unscrupulous company with equally slippery ethics.
Frustrated about the amount of spam you receive in foreign languages? Be it Russian, Japanese or other Asian language; or Kanji, Hanzi, Hanja, logograms, pictograms, Cyrillic or other characters, foreign language spam is frustrating. And it’s all the more frustrating because if all foreign language email that you receive is usually spam, as is the case for many people, then your spam filter should have a way to tell it “All email not in English (or whichever your native language is) is spam.” Now, if you use Gmail, there is a way to do it (and even if you don’t use Gmail as your primary email program, you can use Gmail as a spam filter). Here it is.
Microsoft Hotmail, the world’s largest email provider, is better at blocking spam than Google Gmail and Yahoo Mail, according to a study released by the independent research firm Cascade Insights. The study only tested these companies – the so-called big three email providers – and was sponsored by Microsoft, which funded the research to combat their bad reputation for allowing loads of spam into users’ inboxes.