The Spam Diaries

News and musings about the fight against spam.
 by Edward Falk

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

National spam news

A student at Riverside Community College in California has been arrested for phishing. You can read about it at IT Security News: College student arrested for spam

Datran Media Corp. has agreed to pay $1.1M in fines after being caught using unethically obtained consumer data from several data mining companies. See article Shoddy Email Practices Cost US$1.1M. According to New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer*, Datran sent six million spam emails selling discount drugs, diet pills and other products. Datran allegedly used a mailing list which it knew was dirty. The largest supplier of dirty lists was Gratis Internet, who provided the information in direct violation of their own privacy policy. Expect to hear more on this angle later. In the meantime, ClickZ has a good article on it. also has a good article, describing the kind and amount of personal data sold by Gratis. Red Herring has one more article worth reading, quoting Elliot Spitzer as calling this the largest breach of privacy in Internet history.

Amusing article in the WCF Courier today, about religious chain letters: God Spam: Christian forwards inspire warm fuzzies, wrath. Actually, a chain letter isn't quite the same thing as spam, but close enough. Who here remembers that the very first massive spam was the "Jesus is Coming Soon" spam of 1994? Just think, twelve short years ago, there was no spam.

A new "reputation toolbar" service announced itself this week. CipherTrust has launched their "Trusted Source" toolbar plugin for email clients. It's similar to SiteAdvisor, which I wrote briefly about in January. In this case though, CipherTrust is for email clients instead of web clients. The service works by examining an email when you click on it to determine the originating IP address, which is then cross-checked against the site's "reputation engine". An icon in the tool bar changes color to let you know the trustworthiness of the email. There's a somewhat more detailed article on it from IDG News Service. The tool is free after you register. Windows only.

There was a worthwhile article in the IT Observer this week on Configuring the Postfix mail server for spam and virus protection. The article goes on in some detail on setting up configuration files, installing SpamAssassin (spam filtering) and ClamAV (virus filtering) and so forth.

Yet Another good article in the Seattle Times about AOL's proposal to allow email marketers* to buy their way past the spam filters: Better class of spam is still spam.

And rounding out the week's domestic spam news, Search Engine Journal has an article about how web spam is starting to infest social media sites such as Web spam, it's not just for search engines any more.


Blogger my0p said...

On 3/14/06, I had read the story about the arrest of the student in California involved in the phishing scam. Right now, as I post this, the link you have to is yielding Cold Fusion errors most likely because of spikes in traffic to the site. This is one of the few stories where I have seen a picture posted of the alleged phisher. In most of these phisher caught stories you seldom see names or faces. Assuming this is the case, I am so glad the thief was caught; we need more stories like this in the news as phishing scams are a very signicant online nuisance. I have my gmail account setup to send me email alerts on phishing stories as they appear in the press online.

4:41 PM  

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