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#1 2006-12-21 18:25:33

MathsIsFun
Administrator
Registered: 2005-01-21
Posts: 7,552

Spam growing alarmingly

Spam reaches 85 billion messages a day, and growing.

Plus it is getting smarter.

http://informationweek.com/news/showArt … =196701527

I know I am getting more.


"The physicists defer only to mathematicians, and the mathematicians defer only to God ..."  - Leon M. Lederman

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#2 2006-12-21 18:36:00

mikau
Member
Registered: 2005-08-22
Posts: 1,504

Re: Spam growing alarmingly

well then i suppose we need to make more clever antispam, as always :-(


A logarithm is just a misspelled algorithm.

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#3 2006-12-21 19:01:49

Devantè
Real Member
Registered: 2006-07-14
Posts: 6,400

Re: Spam growing alarmingly

Quite scary...we may have to shut down the Guestbook soon.

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#4 2006-12-21 23:36:49

MathsIsFun
Administrator
Registered: 2005-01-21
Posts: 7,552

Re: Spam growing alarmingly

So far the forum is safe. My small efforts to block spam still work.

Email, however, is getting really annoying


"The physicists defer only to mathematicians, and the mathematicians defer only to God ..."  - Leon M. Lederman

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#5 2006-12-22 01:24:28

Devantè
Real Member
Registered: 2006-07-14
Posts: 6,400

Re: Spam growing alarmingly

Tell me about it. I had to get rid of my old email because I started getting over a hundred emails a day. Seriously. 'Twas extremely and overwhelmingly annoying, so I signed up for an account that some people would (or might) have a hard time remembering.

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#6 2006-12-22 03:11:21

mathsyperson
Moderator
Registered: 2005-06-22
Posts: 4,900

Re: Spam growing alarmingly

There was a page I found somewhere that had around 100 randomly generated fake email addresses that also linked to itself.

That way, automatic email address harvesters would record all of those fake ones, then go to the page linked to by that site (itself) and get lots more fake email addresses to record, and that would happen in a loop. The intent is to clog up the database with so many fake addresses that it can't send spam to as many real ones anymore.

I can't remember what the page was called though.


Why did the vector cross the road?
It wanted to be normal.

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#7 2006-12-22 04:42:40

Toast
Real Member
Registered: 2006-10-08
Posts: 1,321

Re: Spam growing alarmingly

Devanté wrote:

Tell me about it. I had to get rid of my old email because I started getting over a hundred emails a day. Seriously. 'Twas extremely and overwhelmingly annoying, so I signed up for an account that some people would (or might) have a hard time remembering.

Spammers don't manually send emails, don't they? It's all on a list, they simply click the name and faster than you can say 'lolmyemailistoocomplicatedforu' the spam has been sent (i think).

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#8 2006-12-22 04:50:02

Devantè
Real Member
Registered: 2006-07-14
Posts: 6,400

Re: Spam growing alarmingly

Most of the time, yes. Spammers either find huge lists of emails or try and 'attract' them. They use this list and either make a program of find a program that can send multiple emails of spam. The only downside to this is that sometimes the spammers fail and their effort goes to the Junk Mail folder. It takes a long time to send emails to, let's say, 40000 people. It could take hours, even days. I have done some tests with a 'spam' program. Don't worry, I found a list of fake emails somewhere and used those rather than use real ones. It took days for it to send spam emails to these fake accounts. Days. It can also have enough CPU Usage to crash a very fact computer. Even as we speak, spammers and hackers are designing programs that can do this...even faster than they used to be. We have a dangerous era revolving around us...we must act quickly.

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#9 2006-12-22 07:52:11

Ricky
Moderator
Registered: 2005-12-04
Posts: 3,791

Re: Spam growing alarmingly

It takes a long time to send emails to, let's say, 40000 people. It could take hours, even days. I have done some tests with a 'spam' program. Don't worry, I found a list of fake emails somewhere and used those rather than use real ones. It took days for it to send spam emails to these fake accounts. Days. It can also have enough CPU Usage to crash a very fact computer.

If you are using smtp (the most likely choice), then sending an email to a non-valid address can take up to 2000% times as long as sending one to a valid address.

Also, no matter what the CPU load, any half decent OS should not crash.  It must have been something else.


"In the real world, this would be a problem.  But in mathematics, we can just define a place where this problem doesn't exist.  So we'll go ahead and do that now..."

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#10 2006-12-22 10:01:46

MathsIsFun
Administrator
Registered: 2005-01-21
Posts: 7,552

Re: Spam growing alarmingly

Days? I guess so. For one PC.

But the modern day spammers use botnets - they hijack other people's PCs (thousands of them) to send the spam. So if your PC seems to run extra slow sometimes that *may* be the cause yikes

We all need an operating system that is not vulnerable to this, and I don't think Vista is the answer.


"The physicists defer only to mathematicians, and the mathematicians defer only to God ..."  - Leon M. Lederman

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#11 2006-12-22 10:26:50

Devantè
Real Member
Registered: 2006-07-14
Posts: 6,400

Re: Spam growing alarmingly

Pretty interesting stuff.

Save us, Microsoft!

Megasoft sounds cooler nowadays.

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#12 2006-12-22 11:12:25

Ricky
Moderator
Registered: 2005-12-04
Posts: 3,791

Re: Spam growing alarmingly

We all need an operating system that is not vulnerable to this, and I don't think Vista is the answer.

It would be fairly easy to create an operating system that is not vulnerable to this.  Just make one which doesn't support any network devices.

Seriously though, the more OS security one has, the more the user is restricted from doing perfectly valid things.


"In the real world, this would be a problem.  But in mathematics, we can just define a place where this problem doesn't exist.  So we'll go ahead and do that now..."

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#13 2006-12-22 14:53:33

MathsIsFun
Administrator
Registered: 2005-01-21
Posts: 7,552

Re: Spam growing alarmingly

"Do nothing until a door is opened" is better than "do anything until a door is closed" once you connect to the outside world.

What scares me is that my PC may be running software I wouldn't want it to, and there is no easy way to find out. Task Manager lists processes with weird names like csrss.exe that may be useful or harmful. There are websites that can help you, but it should be clearer.

(In the case of csrss.exe, it is needed, but just have a look at this: http://www.neuber.com/taskmanager/process/csrss.exe.html)

Apparently, though, some malicious software can even hide from Task Manager! So you have no idea.


"The physicists defer only to mathematicians, and the mathematicians defer only to God ..."  - Leon M. Lederman

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#14 2006-12-22 16:49:30

Ricky
Moderator
Registered: 2005-12-04
Posts: 3,791

Re: Spam growing alarmingly

That is always something that has confused myself, MathIsFun.

Theoretically, every process in your system has some link that points back to the kernel (think of it like a tree).  I'm not sure if Windows works exactly this way, but it should.  Now there are two different types of processes: one that the kernel initiated itself (say like Explorer.exe), and one that the user told the kernel to initiate, like Firefox.exe.  Why is it that this information is not available to a user?  This way, any program that tries to masquerade as part of the OS can easily be identified as, well, not.


"In the real world, this would be a problem.  But in mathematics, we can just define a place where this problem doesn't exist.  So we'll go ahead and do that now..."

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#15 2006-12-22 23:06:18

Patrick
Real Member
Registered: 2006-02-24
Posts: 1,005

Re: Spam growing alarmingly

Rod, when we're talking spammers, we're talking serious business. Hiding a process, so it doesn't show in the taskmanager, is a rather easy job for a programmer. The problem here, I think, is the amount of knowledge you need about computers to use one. If Microsoft, whos software I'm guessing most people are using, gave you too much information, you'd get confused. If people got confused, they might not choose Microsoft, and that wouldn't be too good, would it?

Also, Devanté, as it's already been said, sending to invalid adresses takes way more time. But even with fake e-mails, it's not really a problem for the spammers. There are plenty of company and university servers, not to mention internetconnections(100mbit typically for big companies), out there to exploit. This is how the warez(we're talking scene here) works, so it should work for spammers aswell.

When we're talking about defending ourselves, there's two major problems. First of all, the defenses 'we' have to make, can only be made when the hackers(crackers) create an exploit, so we're allways many steps behind. Secondly, and this is not a fact but I'm very sure, the programmers we call hackers or crackers are simply more skilled. We're talking people who've devoted their lives to this, and they know protocols, coding languages and processor architures like their own pockets.

Last edited by Patrick (2006-12-22 23:07:30)


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#16 2006-12-26 04:14:28

RealEstateBroker
Member
Registered: 2006-06-01
Posts: 45

Re: Spam growing alarmingly

One effect of spam is to create a defensive reaction against legitimate communication.

As a Realtor, I can set up automatic email notification for new listings. Sometimes a person who has requested this service does not receive it because their email program or their internet service provider has automatic filtering which recognizes an automatically-generated message and blocks it as spam.

One time I received a very cold "take me off your list" message, which made me feel bad because it was someone who had initiated the contact with me, and had requested automatic notification. He was no longer interested in real estate in Vermont, which was fine, but I did not want to be treated like some annoying scum who was bothering him. I wrote to him, reminded him that I had gone to some personal effort at his request, and said that, while I am happy to comply with his request to terminate the service, I still wanted to be treated with human kindness.

He send back a very nice reply, saying that the internet can make people forget that there is a human being on the other end. He acknowledged that I had treated him well, that I did not deserve to get slammed, and he apologized.

In my business I have to be very careful to document the way I handle contacts, otherwise I can be penalized severely under the do-not-call, do not fax laws. Funny thing is: the real spammers seem to have no trouble getting away with it.


Love is what matters most!

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#17 2006-12-26 08:17:42

mikau
Member
Registered: 2005-08-22
Posts: 1,504

Re: Spam growing alarmingly

Want to hear something weird?

I have a yahoo email account which I rarely use. There was I time I used it more and I got spam sent to me daily. But now i hardly get any at all! My sister on the other hand, who uses her yahoo account daily, gets spam all the time!

Are they somehow keeping track of whether or not your using your account?


A logarithm is just a misspelled algorithm.

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#18 2006-12-26 10:16:00

MathsIsFun
Administrator
Registered: 2005-01-21
Posts: 7,552

Re: Spam growing alarmingly

RealEstateBroker: exactly. That story is a real "sign of the times".

A typical effect is that when people register on this forum, the email with the password never gets through to them! Because the email system doesn't see that they initiated the email.

I think we all tolerate advertising - billboards, in newspapers, tv, radio and the internet. But they are always just a part of the landscape and "ignorable". But when they push too hard, like phone calls or a flooded inbox they become spam.

Mikau: she probably gets more because she is on more spam lists. Some websites (not this one!) are set up just to get "live" email addresses. And if your email address is on a website anywhere, the spammers can find it using robots (they read the page and look for a@b.c type stuff). In fact some of the good guys, like spamhaus, place email addresses on websites just to identify spam.


"The physicists defer only to mathematicians, and the mathematicians defer only to God ..."  - Leon M. Lederman

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#19 2007-01-05 14:01:53

justlookingforthemoment
Moderator
Registered: 2005-05-26
Posts: 2,161

Re: Spam growing alarmingly

I watched a documentary on TV the other night about spam. It was great.

In one part, the guy making the documentary sent replies back to spam and actually bought some products to see what they were like. He bought a 'genuine' Rolex and it came in the mail with a 'Made in China' sticker on the back! Another was a dieting kit ... where you smother yourself in so-called 'fat-removing cream', bandage yourself up like a mummy (over the top of cream) and put a plastic bag-like jumpsuit on, to hold it all together. Then sit like that for an hour! Surprisingly, he lost nothing.

It talked about spamhaus, too.

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#20 2007-01-05 21:35:28

Devantè
Real Member
Registered: 2006-07-14
Posts: 6,400

Re: Spam growing alarmingly

http://www.spamhaus.org/

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