Oh Look: You're Still Getting Plenty Of Spam

from the not-going-anywhere dept

Yesterday we noted how silly it was for federal authorities to tell the press that by arresting a single spammer that spam could start to drop. While the guy clearly was a big spammer, there’s no shortage of others willing to fill his place. And the idea that this would scare off other spammers is simply false. Other spammers have received huge fines and long jail terms in the past and it hasn’t decreased spam one bit. Also, many of the biggest spammers aren’t based in the US anyway, so they don’t care what’s happening here. So it’s nice to see the press pushing back (though, a day late) pointing out that the arrest appeared to have no impact on spam rates while quoting many critics pointing out that it’s ridiculous to think that this arrest would have any impact on spam rates.


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Comments on “Oh Look: You're Still Getting Plenty Of Spam”

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31 Comments
Ajax 4Hire (profile) says:

Uh, end of school year and summer happened.

Many infected PCs are sitting on high-bandwidth University/Public School networks.

Your spam and overall network usage goes down at the end of the school year winds down. All of those infected machines get de-commissioned or turned off.

The arrest was a spammer that used large zombie networks to deliver email. Millions of PC and thousands of zombies go off-line in the summer as college students head home to slower network connections and Public Schools shutdown.

JS Beckerist (profile) says:

even more so...

Since his methods were to use zombie networks, the amount of NEW infected computers will diminish. We won’t be seeing the effects of this arrest for a few months, and it will be a slow change. Compare the amount you are getting now to the amount you will be getting this coming September…then again in December…I have no doubts you will see a difference!

Bizzarefall says:

Re: Re:

I don’t think spam will ever stop because as long as they are getting a 1% return (click through) they are making money.
We have someone here that needs to be reminded a few times a month that there is a reason that it is going to junk mail – “but I think I REALLY WANT THIS” – says she…

As long as there are idiots there will be spam.

Internet Solicitors, as you so kindly call them are much worse than telemarketers, with the national do not call list you can tell them not to call and you have recourse if they continue to do so. Since adding myself to the list I have only gotten one or two unsolicited calls, of course you still have the people calling for donations to the cops, used to do this every year until the guy on the phone got too pushy.

lilyofthevalley says:

Re: what a bad comparison

I have 15 e-mail accounts due to the nature of my work. Yes, I have filters, but my filters capture about 1,000-1,500 spam mails PER DAY for those 15 accounts (a lot of those addys have been around a looong time). Even my so called personal-hardly-ever-given-out e-mail addy gets plenty of spam per day as well. (I have changed it so many times in the last few years I gave up and just went back to my original addy instead of trying to create yet another new one for people to not remember.)

That’s an average of about 83 spams per account per day. I do not get 83 telemarketing calls in one day. Granted, I only have one home phone number, which is digital, and in the three years I’ve had that number we’ve only gotten 2 telemarking calls and all of my work numbers are cell based so I only have the oh so rare random dialer call…but c’mon! What a bad comparison to try to act like this is no big deal.

Sure, it’s easy to mass delete the spam with the same subject line and anything that has the words :penis, rolex, investment, loan, viagra (and all related), etc., but even that takes time if you are not a super macro genius because sometimes things get snagged as spam that are not, and they are messages that I need to receive, personal or business. So I still have to comb through them.

I don’t know what the solution to this is, because the tech keeps changing. One can hope that jail time, fines, etc. will do something. But instead of just fining them, how about returning all the money in cases like phishing and such? Folks would really appreciate that at least.

Anyway…the comment that spam would go down significantly was just part of the Dog and Pony show. But by all means, prosecute when possible.

That Guy says:

Running Theme

Mike there seems to be a running theme to your posts lately.

“If you can’t totally fix the problem don’t even try.”

I agree that officials and politicians have an ANNOYING tendency to being both naive and political all at the same time. They either think they are making huge steps in fixing things, or they at least want you to believe that they are. In reality though their attempts have minimal impact.

But your comments imply that no effort, unless totally effective, should be employed. Temper the enthusiasms of others all you want, but at least articulate that you recognize that people are trying to change things for better.

If we want to stop problems ( sexual predators, spammers for instance ) we need laws that lay out punishment, laws that define what offences constitute grounds for punishment, and enforcement agencies willing to then try to round up people who don’t comply with the law.

For comparison. We have laws that say its illegal to drive drunk. Yet thousands upon thousands do it every day. Arrest a drunk driver and one more drunk will leave the bar to fill his place. You can never arrest enough drunk drivers to get the populace to stop drinking and driving. So applying your philosophy cops shouldn’t pull over drunk drivers, because its a pointless fight. Judges shouldn’t hand down punishments to drunk drivers after they cause a wreck or injure / kill people, because after all any penalty he hands out won’t stop the waves and waves of drunk drivers who go out every day.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Running Theme

Mike there seems to be a running theme to your posts lately.

“If you can’t totally fix the problem don’t even try.”

No. I’m not saying don’t even try. I think it’s great that this guy was arrested. I’m saying don’t make stupid statements that this will stop spam.

Why? Because by saying that people stop looking for the REAL ways to stop spam. It makes them think they’re making progress, when it’s just a tiny drop in the bucket.

John B says:

Re: Running Theme

Actually, when states started getting tough on drunk drivers, deaths from alcohol-related accidents did start to decline and continued to decline for at least two decades (not sure what the latest numbers from teh patthree or four years are). Deterrents are effective at least to some degree.

lilyofthevalley (user link) says:

Re: Re: Running Theme

The biggest difference there is suddenly a dad who is supposed to be upstanding citizen is doing jail time because it’s his 2nd/3rd/etc DUI. Most of these scam/spammers aren’t trying to make themselves out to be a cornerstone of the Nuclear Family. The shame factor doesn’t set in. (I mean, really, are they going to fire themselves or have the spouse file for divorce because they’ve done jail time? I think not.)

But I do agree that deterrents still help, no matter how small of a degree.

Charles Griswold (user link) says:

Re: Time for an internet postoffice

One way to stop spammers is to offer an internet postage service. Users would get charged for email and credited when they receive. The amount could be trivial and still stop the spammers with economics.

No, it wouldn’t. Spammers use botnets, and hence would not be at all inconvenienced by a per-email fee. Any spammers that currently don’t use botnets would be driven to by an e-mail fee.

Legitimate mass e-mailers, however, would be massively inconvenienced by this since they don’t use botnets. Internet postage is a bad idea.

General Eskimo says:

Supply and Demand

This is the result of simple economics- supply and demand. Even though we are arresting people, there is still a demand for spammers; people still want to hire these people to send spam. The fewer spammers there are, the more people are willing to pay for them. When more people are willing to pay, more people will turn to spamming to make money. If you could make $250k a year to spam people, would you do it? I would. What we need to do is go after companies that endorse spamming! If it becomes detrimental to their business to spam, then the demand will drop. When the demand drops, the number of spammers will drop.

Geoff says:

Spam Arrest

Ever since the inception of Spam, my penis is 33% longer, I last 500 times longer in bed, my girlfriend can’t handle all I have, I have a bank account with $10 billion in it in escrow from Regal Prince Dhujabio of Nigeria, who has promised me another $235 billion once I give him my visa number(apparently sums of money like that need to be transferred by verisign into visa cards). I also am SUPER-thin now, and in fact I haven’t eaten food for 11 weeks.

Sorry what was this whole thing about???

Spam’s here to stay, arrests will slow down the spread but only temporarily. Sorry to burst anyone’s balloon. If you think arresting one person is going to make any difference, then good for you, I happen to believe that the real source of 95% of all spam is from elsewhere in the world, and there is no hope in hades that these countries will be arresting their citizens for spamming.

Now back to my Danish mail order penis elongator!

runningthememonitor says:

“I’m saying don’t make stupid statements that this will stop spam.”

I think if you go and re-read the story you linked to, not a single FBI official is quoted as saying that this arrest will “stop spam.” In fact, no FBI official was even quoted in the story that you linked to.

Many analysts who were interviewed, however, were quick to note that this would not stop spam and that there are 10 spammers ready to fill the gap.

I would argue, however … that even in the abstract, having one of the nation’s top 10 spammers suddenly having no access to his botnet; and being unable to actively sell access to his botnet to other spammers must have an impact. It may only slow the growth of spam … but to suggest there is no value is to misunderstand just how few real high-volume spammers there are in the world.

Additionally … at some point, this guy is gonna turn states evidence and help the FBI learn how the spam underworld is organized, how it operates, ways it can be combatted, etc. etc. This will definitely have an impact on law enforcements ability to go after the next spam organization.

To argue otherwise would be just running the theme out further.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think if you go and re-read the story you linked to, not a single FBI official is quoted as saying that this arrest will “stop spam.” In fact, no FBI official was even quoted in the story that you linked to.

Actually, this is fascinating: the AP changed the original article. However, here’s another version:

http://www.kiplinger.com/businessresource/apnews/XmlStoryResult.php?storyid=377619

Note that it *does* say that authorities claim that spam will decrease.


Additionally … at some point, this guy is gonna turn states evidence and help the FBI learn how the spam underworld is organized, how it operates, ways it can be combatted, etc. etc. This will definitely have an impact on law enforcements ability to go after the next spam organization.

That hasn’t helped any time in the past. Why would it help this time?

Voguedude says:

One Raindrop.....

One raindrop does not believe that it is to blame for the flood. Or so the saying goes that I have heard. One person certainly does make a difference! My spam box is about 1/3 emptier this week! Sure, there are up and coming spammers to take the place of the last one, but then we just need to keep arresting them! Their arrests will lead to prison over population which will lead to more prisons being built — eventually. Which will lead to more jobs for construction personnel and prison facilitators. Less spam AND a flourishing economy!! YAY!!! Don’t you just love America?!

freak3dot says:

Report It.

I tend to seek out the company the spam is advertising for and look in their help section for a place to report spam.

If they want to waste my time sending it to me, then I want to waste some of their time reporting it. Time costs them money too.

I also do this with snail mail advertisements, usually by calling the number on the ad.

freak3dot

John (profile) says:

AOL tried this one...

“One way to stop spammers is to offer an internet postage service.”

Actually, AOL tried to do this: a while ago, they tried to setp a service where organizations could pay a small fee to make sure their bulk e-mail wouldn’t be sent to the Bulk Mail folder. A large number of charities (possibly the Red Cross?) complained that this would be discriminatory since they couldn’t pay the fees.
The organizations completely missed the point… and I believe led the media to believe that AOL would block mail from anyone who didn’t pay. No one ever seemed to get the point that mail would still be delievered if you didn’t pay, but the payment was to make sure the messages weren’t flagged as spam.

So, if AOL can’t even put this kind of system in place on its own network, just think how far a “Internet mail delivery tax” would go.

John (user link) says:

Project Honeypot

Maybe this project I ran across would be good to sign up for and help to fight spam:

http://www.projecthoneypot.org/home.php

Project Honey Pot is the first and only distributed system for identifying spammers and the spambots they use to scrape addresses from your website. Using the Project Honey Pot system you can install addresses that are custom-tagged to the time and IP address of a visitor to your site. If one of these addresses begins receiving email we not only can tell that the messages are spam, but also the exact moment when the address was harvested and the IP address that gathered it.

Mal says:

Priceless

Don’t think that they are done with him once he is behind bars, there will be a whole series of carrot and stick incentives to get him to reveal sources and techniques.

Right now, his biggest danger is probably his former friends who are afraid he will snitch them out.

The IRS and Secret Service will be combing every dime of money he or his family has earned in the past seven years; freezing bank accounts, credit cards all that stuff. I’m sure plenty of warrants went out to Telecoms and ISP’s, all that fun stuff.

I would expect further arrests downline. Our country is becoming quite famous for abducting people from foreign countries and making them dissapear, so we may not even know what happens to some of the people he rats out.

Mal says:

Priceless

Don’t think that they are done with him once he is behind bars, there will be a whole series of carrot and stick incentives to get him to reveal sources and techniques.

Right now, his biggest danger is probably his former friends who are afraid he will snitch them out.

The IRS and Secret Service will be combing every dime of money he or his family has earned in the past seven years; freezing bank accounts, credit cards all that stuff. I’m sure plenty of warrants went out to Telecoms and ISP’s, all that fun stuff.

I would expect further arrests downline. Our country is becoming quite famous for abducting people from foreign countries and making them dissapear, so we may not even know what happens to some of the people he rats out.

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