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©05 The Media Desk

And we're serious about it too...

Outblaze and its partners will terminate immediately any account which they believe, in their sole discretion, is transmitting or is otherwise connected to any spam or other unsolicited bulk email (recipient, dropbox, sender). In addition, because damages are often difficult to quantify, you agree to pay Outblaze liquidated damages of US$ 5.00 for each recipient’s address on spam or unsolicited bulk email transmitted from your account. anti-spam policy
An Affiliate of Outblaze

      SPAM, unsolicited commercial email, is a huge problem on the web. Everybody knows that. But a lot of people seem to think its only a problem with AOL or Hotmail and only in the United States.
      Outblaze is based in Hong Kong, and they seem to be really upset about spam. They've even gone so far as to release a position paper in response to a policy issued by the Telcom Authority of Hong Kong which was adopted by the Asia Pacific Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email. Their goal is to write laws with teeth, not like the US CAN-SPAM law, and put spammers out of business or in jail, or hopefully both.

      The Desk, operating as an independent agent, monitors the type and quality of spam in the world and has email accounts world wide. In the US, India, Russia and so on.
      Spam really is a World Wide problem.
      It is jamming email gateways and flooding mailboxes. Spam attacks against providers like Yahoo! have gotten so sophisticated that no matter what you set your filters to, some of it still gets through by simply overwhelming the system.
      And spam with a criminal bent seems to have become the dominate type of junk email that is being sent today. Surpassing ads for porn sites and cheap webcams.
      Phishing scams lead the way but others are out there too. Work at home schemes, loans, shady products for sale, charity fronts, and so on. And the majority of them are simply attempts to pick your pocket.
      And more and more of them are coming from, or through, email gateways based in places like Romania (RO) where law enforcement may be a step or two behind on the electronic front.
      Of course it is most likely that the criminals themselves are living in New Jersey than in Bucharest. But since Internet Crime is an equal opportunity employer, there are organizations in Russia and elsewhere that use facilities in somewhat less strict societies for their activities. That and its cheaper to do business in some of these places than it is in Moscow just from a 'cost of doing business' factor.

      There are still people that go out and check the rates on the low cost mortgage. Or fill out the form because they want to update the bank on their personal information. Others want to play the game or get the gift certificate or chat with a celebrity.
      And there goes their bank account, or here comes a keylogger or other stealth program that either rapes their computer for information or turns the victim's machine into a spam generating monster.
      The only truly safe computer these days is one that IS NOT connected to the Internet at all. But then, that seriously limits its usefulness doesn't it. But there are a couple of ways to decrease your machine's risk of being used as a mindless spam-forwarding robot. When you are not using it, turn it off. Or disable the internet link, especially ones that are Always On like cable or DSL connections. Firewalls are only as good as their programming and can only resist the attacks they were designed to resist. If a really good spam-program gets behind it, the firewall may not even be an inconvenience.
      A way to protect your email address from incoming spam is to NOT publish it. But, if you, like the Desk, have to have a public and published email address, scramble it on the web page, like useing words instead of the @ sign. You'll still get spam, but not as much.
      Also, do not forward those blessing-poem / friendship test things. One such forwarded bit of nonsense had over a hundred working email addresses on it. If you must forward one because it says your toenails will rot off, edit the email addresses out of the forwarded message. Spammers have been known to harvest these things because they can be a gold mine of otherwise unpublished addresses.
      Another thing to do is to set your email filters to stop email sent to a 'default' address (blank or some special symbol like *), to reject BCC (blind carbon copy) messages, and so on. Filters that focus on content don't work because the spammer will spell mortgage with an exclamation point in the middle or whatever: "CRED|T N0W". But they can still be helpful enough to be worth using, especially if they come with the account for free.

      But one of the most important things you can do is to DELETE the spam. Don't open it, don't forward it, don't click on the 'remove me' button. Just delete it.

      If you are going to report the spam to the ISP that it came out of, you have to be able to at least partially decipher the header. Which means you will have to display the full header of the email which will look something like the following:

From Tue Apr 19 13:42:58 2005
Received: from ( [])
    by (8.12.10/8.12.10) with ESMTP id j3JHgRrI003824;
    Tue, 19 Apr 2005 13:42:58 -0400
message-id:  <001001c54508$5537eab0$f991abbc@NEACGKM>
From:  "Ambien Xanax"  <>
To:  "over 300 meds"  <>,  <>, (string deleted for posting due to length)
Cc:  <>,  <> (string deleted for posting due to length)
Subject: Get them discreetly
Date: Tue, 19 Apr 2005 09:57:42 -0800


fdnov xlpxpkydlgxl. udwih wzfqsoxa, rgnlmeus.
ithgycjsvkfkotwr, chwkeatukpvuvoy. ylfwg uupzxgahojga.

      Which tells us many things.
      One, that it originated in Japan (JP) from the "Received From" lines by way of Asia Pacific Network Information Centre in Australia who owns the address Which further means that they don't care two whits about the US CAN-SPAM law, or for the Hong Kong law either.
      Another thing it tells us is that it was a dictionary attack on the Desk email server. And while the majority of the addresses in the list are invalid and did bounce, this one got through to an actual working address on the server.
      The text of the message was in a .gif picture so filters for normal spam language wouldn't catch the ad for the medications. Then there was a string of nonsense words below it so it wouldn't be rejected as being blank, they used gibberish to avoid setting off any filters looking for drug names or things like that. The picture was entirely a hotlink to their website where they hawked more prescription drugs, and the 'no more' link went absolutely nowhere.
      Did this message violate the law? Yes indeed. On several points. Do they care? Nope.
      Again. It originated in Japan. It could have just as easily have come from Russia (RU) or anywhere else. More than likely it is the spawn of some poor soul's hijacked computer that is blindly chugging away day and night sending out this garbage.

      Now. The other side of it.
      Does anybody actually buy anything from these emails?


      A good hot mailing list of targeted names or those that have opted-in for some sort of information can return a twenty to twenty-five inquiry rate. Of those, maybe ten percent will buy something. Which is why so many spam messages try to mimic newsletters and informational mailings from all sorts of people. Including the identity theft scam letters that want to convince you that your bank needs your birthday and mother's maiden name.
      For a cold list of names of innocent bystanders that don't want any spam at all, the percentage can drop into the low single digits. Two or three percent of those that get it will want more information, and only a small percentage of those will actually buy anything.
      But if you send out twenty MILLION messages a day, even two percent of two percent is a lot.

      Do those that buy the discount drugs or designer sunglasses at remarkably low discount prices actually get anything worthwhile? Some probably do. Somebody might actually get a real product once in awhile. Most will get some knock off bootleg copy of whatever it is if they get anything at all. It's sad to say, but it is still true. Most orders placed through spam emails go nowhere because the spammer has already had to pack up and move on before you get their email. The links don't work, the return address has been deleted by the ISP, and so on. However, some will work, they'll get your credit card number and bill you for fairy dust and moonlight and you'll get squat in the mail. And when you go crying to your credit card company they'll ask you if you placed the order and you'll have to say yes, then they should ask you if you have ever suffered any major trauma to your head.

      The other factor in spam messages is the spread of viruses. And again, everybody knows it. Yet the ignorant, the gullible and the greedy continue to open the attachments that promise them everything from pictures of some tennis player to free tickets to a soccer game. Which is how the latest Sober virus is spreading throughout Europe.
      Come on. If it seems too good to be true...

      But there is always the 'Just in case...' argument isn't there. OK, just in case, send it to the Desk. It'll check it out, and then it'll tell you.
      It was spam!


New Resource Link- will open in new window:

Outblaze has put together one of the best Anti-spam resource pages the Desk has ever seen. With discussions of the problem and links to organizations that fight it.

[NOTE: Outblaze® is a privately held company. The name and all identifying marks are owned and controlled by Outblaze. No defamation or harm is intended with their use in this article.
    The Desk is not affiliated in any way with Outblaze or any of its affiliates nor are its affiliates affiliated with any affiliates of the Desk's affiliates or affiliated websites.
Thank you ]

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