The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'spam'
Last week was the annual ritual the year's iPhone launch. It followed the usual routine: new models (with larger screens and a new iOS version), new technologies (Apple Pay, a contactless payment system) and a preannouncement of an as-yet unready product (the Apple Watch, which, to all appearances, doesn't quite work yet, hence the carefully managed demo). And then, another surprise: Bono, that Tony Blair of adult-oriented rock took to the stage, looking particularly greasy and ratlike in his trademark rock'n'roll sunglasses, and, through a scripted “spontaneous” exchange with Apple CEO Tim Cook, announced that his band U2 have recorded a new album, and that Apple have bought each and every one of their users a copy; it would be showing up in their record collections whether they wanted it or not. And, soon enough, it did. Those whose phones were set to automatically synchronise with iTunes Match found the new U2 album waiting on their phones.
Of course, not everyone was happy with having a record shoved into their record collections; even without it being by a band with such a sketchy reputation (musically and otherwise) as U2. The similarity between Bono's rationale—that those finding the music on their computer may listen to it and may like it, and if they don't like it, they can delete it—and the rationalisations of old-fashioned email spammers, was pointed out. Though, actually, you couldn't even delete it; you could remove it from your computer, and meticulously scrub it from all your Apple devices, but it would always be waiting for you in your list of downloadable purchases on the iTunes Store, like an unflushable jobbie, taunting you with its noisome presence every time you lifted the lid. The most you could do with it was “hide” it, as you would a mildly embarrassing drunken binge-purchase; but you and Apple would know it was always there, mocking you.
This was not so much the “turd-in-a-can” business model of lowest-common-denominator consumer capitalism as the “unflushable turd” business model; or “now you have our album in your music collection; deal with it”. A bit like the Los Angeles band who blocked a freeway with a truck and treated the trapped motorists to a live gig from a stage on the back, only scaled up to the size of Bono's messianic ego and international-level schmoozing abilities. When you're Bono, it seems, you can push your music to millions of people. As for Apple, could this mean that their hubris about knowing their customers' needs better than they know themselves has extended from which controls a user needs in an app to what sort of music the user likes, or ought to like?
After considerable kvetching and sarcasm on social media and the web (and undoubtedly a number of complaints to iTunes Support), Apple relented, and created a world first: a dedicated web link for removing U2's Songs Of Innocence from one's iTunes collection; a privilege (if one can call it that) that no other musical act has merited, or is likely to merit any time soon, with the levels of hubris, influence and public antipathy required to pull off such a feat.
Apple surely have statistics about how many people have availed themselves of this link, and expunged the most recent U2 album from their record collections. It's unlikely that they will publish them. It would be nice if this whole episode had been a lesson in humility for Bono and his people, but, somehow, I suspect that's too much to hope for.
There is, however, some hope from this affair; it seems that, after all, enough people to be counted and listened to still consider their music collections—the recordings they have chosen and curated themselves—to be a personal artefact, rather than just another advertising billboard. Sure, Facebook may abridge our friends' party photos and emotional dramas and squeeze in ads pushing weight-loss plans and financial services in the spaces freed up, Twitter may season our (now similarly algorithmically winnowed down) feeds with “sponsored tweets”, Shazam may turn our phones into micro-billboards for the new Justin Bieber record when we hold them up to check what the bangin' track the DJ is playing is, and Spotify may bombard us with gratingly obnoxious ads until we relent and become paying customers, but both our record collections and our not-inexpensive, non-ad-subsidised, devices are off limits; and woe betide anyone who messes with them.
A US dating site has found a novel way of increasing its profile count: by automatically adding profiles for non-users from publicly available information. You know, just in case they might be open to romance, much in the way that other public-minded individuals send out emails to millions of people just in case some of them have erectile problems they're too embarrassed to seek out help for:
Jordan said the site would soon host some 340 million profiles after scraping information from social networking sites, e-mail registries, mailing lists, marketing surveys, government census records, real estate listings and business websites to create new dating profiles.
MySpace's legendary contempt for its users comes to the fore once more: recently, they bought Imeem, an online music service that let users embed streamable playlist widgets in their web sites, allowing users to (legally) stream music. As soon as they did so, Imeem was shut down, replaced with a notice telling people to use MySpace. As for users' embedded playlists? Well, they've been replaced with obnoxiously garish ads for downloadable ringtones.
A reformed Facebook spammer (in his own words) writes about the dubious tricks of his former trade:
I finally came to this realization: People on Facebook won’t pay for anything. They don’t have credit cards, they don’t want credit cards, and they are not interested in shopping. But you can trick them into doing one of three things:Also, if you don't want to see spam, move to somewhere geographically indistinguishable from where service providers (like Facebook and Google) are based; i.e., the San Francisco Bay Area:
- Download a toolbar: It could be spyware (such as Zango) or something more legitimate, such as Webfetti or Zwinkys.
- Give up their email address: You’ve won a “free” camera or perhaps you’ve been selected as a tester for a new Macbook Pro (which you get to keep at the end of the test). Just tell us where you want us to ship it.
- Give up their phone number: You took the IQ Quiz, so give us your phone number and we’ll tell you your score. Never mind that you’ll get billed $20 a month or perhaps be tricked into inviting 10 other friends to beat your score.
Cloaking: This is when you show a different page based on IP address. We and most other ad networks would geo-block northern California—showing different ads to Facebook employees than to other users around the world. One of the largest Facebook advertisers (I’m not going to out you, but you know who you are) employs this technique to this day, using a white-listed account. Our supposition is that it makes too much money for Facebook to stop him. Believe me, we have brought this to Facebook’s attention on several occasions. Here’s what this fellow does—he submits tame ads for approval, and once approved, redirects the url to the spammy page. To be fair, players like Google AdWords have had years more experience in this game to close such loopholes.
Imagine, for a moment, that you have published an online multiplayer strategy game. How do you get players to play your game (and, more importantly, spend money on the numerous playability enhancements, from premium-priced instant messages to power-ups) rather than any of the numerous other games out there? Well, you could concentrate on making a particularly playable game, give away accounts and wait for word of mouth to do its work. Or, if you're the publisher of Evony (formerly known as Civony), a game heavily inspired (to phrase it somewhat generously) by Sid Meier's Civilization games only much more heavily monetised, you could bet on the assumption that sex sells and plaster the web with increasingly lascivious ads, in which the traditional cod-Tolkienist clichés gradually give way to gratuitous female nudity, culminating in the apotheosis: a close-up of a lingerie-clad bosom, with nothing about the actual game whatsoever. It's Idiocracy marketing taken a few steps beyond the typical Facebook ads with pictures of hot chicks promoting completely unrelated products, assuming that your target market is comprised entirely of idiots who, when shown pictures of BOOBIES!!!1!, begin drooling like Pavlov's Dog and reflexively get their credit cards out.
And here is a Grauniad piece about Evony. It seems that their dodginess goes well beyond patronisingly pornographic ad campaigns, and extends its slimy tentacles into everything from spamming blog comments to gold-farming and gouging their clientele (the "suckers", as I believe the technical term is) to lifting text and graphics from existing games. These people, it seems, have more contempt for their user base than MySpace.
And as if bad advertising and tenuous intellectual property were not enough, the game is also under fire for its business model – a system that seems intent on getting players to spend as much money as possible. Players are encouraged to buy in-game extras to speed their progress – but the confusing way the game prices its add-ons means that many users may not realise that a simple action, such as sending a message to another player, can cost 15p a time.
It turns out that the site's backers are equally unpopular. Evony is the product of Universal Multiplayer Game Entertainment (UMGE), a developer linked to a Chinese gold-farming operation called WoWMine. That site has also come in for regular criticism, but the real kicker comes with the news that the company's owners are being sued by Microsoft over allegations of click fraud.
Search giant Google confirmed to the BBC that when the news first broke it feared it was under attack.
Before the company's servers crashed, TweetVolume noted that "Michael Jackson" appeared in more than 66,500 Twitter updates.And Farrah Fawcett (whom one really has to feel sorry for; what a way to go) wasn't the only one eclipsed by the "King of Pop" going supernova; the entire Iranian protest movement was as well.
That put news of Jackson's death at least on par with the Iran protests, as Twitter posts about Iran topped 100,000 per hour on June 16 and eventually climbed to 220,000 per hour.(It's probably, in the Blairite parlance, a good day to bury bad news; I wonder whether the Iranian government has taken advantage of this to hastily machine-gun all those pesky protesters into freshly dug trenches while the world's mourning a pop star.)
Michael Jackson's death will almost certainly go down in history as one of those iconic events that everyone remembers where they were when they heard of it, like the Kennedy assassination or the passing of his erstwhile father-in-law some three decades earlier. Only, this time, it happened in a highly networked world, so the recollections will surely reflect this. I first heard of it when I saw someone log into an instant messaging service with "RIP Michael Jackson" as their status. Though one may well have found out about it by reading Wikipedia's revisions page:
(cur) (prev) 22:49, 25 June 2009 TexasAndroid (talk | contribs) m (119,637 bytes) (Removed category Living people (using HotCat))Which is somewhat less ignominious than Wikipedia's summary judgment of non-notability on Steven Wells. (Wikipedia appears to be locked in a deletionist spiral of radicalism these days, as editors prove their hard-headedness and ideological purity by being increasingly ruthless with what is deemed "notable".)
And the Register' article on the Michael Jackson Twitter meltdown ends with some speculation about what's likely to happen in the days and weeks following his death:
We can expect floods of tributes, detailing how Jackson changed the face of pop music (a reasonable claim) was the biggest record seller in history (probably) and invented the moonwalk (absolutely not).
This will be quickly followed by floods of revelations about the singer's murky private life, now that libel restrictions no longer reply - at least in the UK.
But first of all, we can expect a flood of malware spam, likely promising post-mortem pictures of the star's body.The spam, it seems, didn't take long.
The latest trend in spam seems to be incoherently bizarre headlines mentioning Britney Spears, and promising videos:
Britney vagina transplant to erase fools' memory syndromePresumably they're aiming for the same demographic that would download files named "enraged baboon fucking a nipple factory".
Britney heartbroken as Diana's Butler beds Winehouse
Britney Spears has Fanny Magnets Grafted in to Attract Papparazzi
Britney sues vagina for divorce
This seems to have started two days ago; before that, there was a brief burst of Angelina Jolie-related spam, following on from a number of "Weekly top news" headlines like "sperm-flavored cocaine all the rage in LA" (which sounds like they got Warren Ellis in as a copywriter).
Those fake sensational news headlines spammers are using to trick people into visiting dodgy websites are getting more and more ridiculous:
Bush is Gay. Obama Converts To Judiasm.A disproportionate number of them have the word "gay" in them. I guess that's meant to be a hot-button issue for the sorts of people they're looking for.
Bush and Putin Agree To Restart Cold War During G8 Summit.
Barack Obama Wins Ku Klux Klan Endorsement. Both Obama And Mccain Claim They Will Deport Elton John.
The internet was invented in 1950s in China.
Gregorian Monks Commit Mass Suicide In Italian Church.
Madonnas Former Home Destroyed By Jesus. Blair: Im Not Gay, Thats Just My Accent.
Yiddish spam titles. (Well, Yinglish, to be precise, but still amusing:)
If they have the internet in the world of The Yiddish Policemen's Union, the mailboxes would probably be full of subject lines like these.
Do shiksas heckle your schmeckel?
XXX ... Yenta noshes on pisher's trayf blintz! Hot!
Take this and you'll need another bris!
Also in McSweeney's Lists: Brews to Accessorise the Modern Hipster ("I Don't Really Like This but I'm Drinking It to Get Back at My Parents and/or Friends With an Overt and Crass Display of Being Cultured Lambic", "Rummage Sale Pale Ale"), and Phrases Commonly Used By 1950s Housewives That Were Often Misinterpreted As Blatant Requests For Sex.
Apparently 2% of internet traffic now consists of denial-of-service attacks, mostly launched by botnets of hijacked Windows PCs operated remotely by organised crime. By comparison, email comprises 1 to 1.5% of internet traffic (though a majority of that is reportedly spam).
The Napsterization blog (which is not about craptacular DRM-shackled music-rental services but about the social and economic implications of disruptive technologies) has a piece on the lengths Facebook application authors go to get people to install their applications, such as doing sleazy things like not only requiring users to install their application to see messages from friends, but wilfully misleading them into believing that if they don't forward a message (of a pornographic tone) to some friends, they won't get to see it. As a result, the maker of the app gets a juicy boost to their installation figures, whilst pissing all over people's social relationships and making your user experience that much crappier.
In this case, the culprit was Slide, with their popular FunWall application, though neither Slide nor Facebook will accept the blame for this:
Facebook pointed the finger at Slide (the app maker in this case), and said, "There is nothing we can do. We have no control over the apps people make or the stuff they send." Oh, and if I wanted Facebook to change the rules for apps makers? I'd have to get say, 80k of my closest Facebook friends to sign on a petition or group, and then they might look at the way they have allowed porn spam to trick people into forwarding, but until then, there would be no feature review.
Slide said that they thought Facebook was the problem, because as the "governing" body, Facebook makes the rules and "Slide wouldn't be competitive if they changed what they do, and their competitors weren't forced to as well." In other words, Slides competitors use the same features to get more users (or trick more users as the case may be) and Slide didn't want to lose out on getting more users with similar features, regardless of the effect the features have on us and our relationships.And things aren't likely to change by much. Human psychology being what it is, people are willing to put up with a lot of annoyance in software as long as it provides a social function. (How else could you explain MySpace, with its spammy, craptacular user experience, going from strength to strength and maintaining its position as the dominant social software site?) Some people may generally amused by every piece of spam that comes in, or believe that, like billboard advertising, it brightens up people's otherwise dull lives. Others may put up with it due to the peer pressure to not seem cranky and antisocial; after all, the argument would go, that's what they do here, and if you don't like it, why did you join? (The corollary to this argument is, of course, the attrition rate as people who get sick of having three wall applications and being awash in a sea of silly surveys and chain letters stop logging in one day.)
There is, indeed, nothing new under the sun. 74 years ago, people in America were besieged by unsolicited advertisements for dodgy medical products, financial scams, gambling, drugs and "dubious pleasure activities". Only rather than cluttering up their nonexistent email inboxes, this spam took the form of powerful radio broadcasts from transmitters in Mexico and/or aboard ships, jamming the signals of existing radio stations.
Facebook is in the news again, with (so far) the first known instance of a Facebook application being used to install adware on users' PCs. If your friends invite you to install the "Secret Crush" application, you accept, and you are using Windows, then the application will install the Zango adware program on your PC, not to mention arm-twist you into spamming your friends with requests to add it.
If Secret Crush actually needs you to click buttons to invite your friends to add it, the criminal scumbags who designed it have missed a trick; some other applications, such as RockYou's Super Wall and related applications, are able to send messages to randomly selected individuals from a user's friend list, purporting to be that user and asking to be installed to see a message from them, without the user's intervention. (I once found in my notifications the notice that I had messaged three randomly-chosen people, whose relationships to me have nothing in common, inviting them to install Super Wall. Soon after that, Super Wall was no longer installed on my page.)
It looks like the latest angle in 419 ("Nigerian") scams is not millions of dollars of oil revenues or Iraqi gold but free puppies, as evidenced by the following email:
MY NAME IS Rev. Sis Dora Martins, I AND MY HUSBAND ARE ON A CHRISTIAN MISSION TO AFRICA AND I CAME ALONG WITH MY PUPPY. AFTER A WHILE I NOTICE THAT THE AFRICAN WEATHER IS NOT GOOD FOR THE PUPPY AND I HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO TAKE GOOD CARE OF HER THE WAY I ALWAYS DO BECAUSE OF MY JOB. I NEED SOMEONE TO ADOPT HER AND TAKE CARE OF HER THE WAY I ALWAYS DO. IF YOU CAN TAKE GOOD CARE OF HER DO SEND A REPLY AND I WILL EMAIL YOU HER PICTURES. I HOPE TO READ FROM YOU. THANKS AND GOD BLESS.
It looks like Facebook (the social network site which promoted itself on being less jarringly obnoxious than MySpace) may soon explore new frontiers of annoyingness:
"Evil is deeply embedded in Facebook's corporate DNA," said Umair Haque, a strategy consultant who covers digital media and innovation on his blog, Bubblegeneration.com.
As Nicholas Carr, former executive editor of the Harvard Business Review, wrote in his blog: "It's a nifty system: First you get your users to entrust their personal data to you, and then you not only sell that data to advertisers but you get the users to be the vector for the ads. And what do the users get in return? An animated Sprite Sips character to interact with."
In describing Facebook's new advertising system at a US conference this week, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made it clear there would be no avoiding the onslaught of advertisements and viral marketing on Facebook. "There is no opting out of advertising," he said.I don't know about you, but I don't want little animated M&Ms characters doing skateboard stunts in the corner of my personal messages or sentences announcing the latest iPod or trainer auto-edited into comments I make on people's walls. If Facebook gets annoying, I'll stop using it, and I won't be the only one.
As the US braces itself for another bitterly contested Presidential election, computer-crime experts are warning that it's only a matter of time before botnets, phishing and DOS attacks are used to nobble campaigns or disenfranchise voters:
Dirty tricks are not new. On US election day in 2002, the lines of a "get-out-the-voters" phone campaign sponsored by the New Hampshire Democratic Party were clogged by prank calls. In the 2006 election, 14000 Latino voters in Orange County, California, received letters telling them it was illegal for immigrants to vote.
Calls could even be made using a botnet. This would make tracing the perpetrator even harder, because calls wouldn't come from a central location. What's more, the number of calls that can be made is practically limitless.
Internet calls might also be made to voters to sow misinformation, says Christopher Soghoian at Indiana University in Bloomington. "Anonymous voter suppression is going to become a reality."
What News Corp. doesn't want you to know about MySpace. It turns out that the grass-roots indie-hipster youth web sensation is actually nothing of the sort, but actually the product of a shady spam/adware company:
The whole site is, in essence, a marketing tool that everyone who registers has access to. Users constantly receive spam-like messages from said bands, business, and individuals looking to add more "friends" (and therefore more potential fans, consumers, or witnesses) to their online identity. A testament to this strange new social paradigm is the phrase "Thanks for the Add," a nicety offered when one MySpace user adds another as a friend. Best yet, to use the site, members must log in, causing them to inadvertently view advertisements, and then read their messages on a page with even more advertisements. In the world of MySpace, Spam is earth, air, fire, and water.
3. Tom Anderson did NOT create MySpace. Most users don't know that Tom Anderson (pictured) is more of a PR scheme than anything else--the mascot designed to give a friendlier feel to a site created by a marketing company known for viral entertainment websites, pop-up advertising, spam, spyware, and adware. As MySpace's popularity grew, the MySpace team moved to create a false PR story that would best reflect the ideals and tastes of its growing demographic. They wanted to prevent the revelation that a Spam 1.0 company had launched the site, and created the impression that Tom Anderson created the site, and the lie worked. According to Anderson, the bulk of his initial contribution is as follows: "I am as anti-social as they come, and I've already got 20 people to sign up."Which goes some way towards explaining the numerous irritating, spammy, user-hostile design decisions all over MySpace. If this article is true, then being acquired by Murdoch may have even made MySpace less evil.
Spam subject line of the day: "hors d'oeuvre sociopath". (From a "Hastings E. Ben".)
The mind boggles.
Security researchers dissect a Russian spam botnet; it turns out that these things are getting alarmingly sophisticated:
Once a Windows machine is infected, it becomes a peer in a peer-to-peer botnet controlled by a central server. If the control server is disabled by botnet hunters, the spammer simply has to control a single peer to retain control of all the bots and send instructions on the location of a new control server.
Stewart said about 20 small investment and financial news sites have been breached for the express purpose of downloading user databases with e-mail addresses matched to names and other site registration data. On the bot herder's control server, Stewart found a MySQL database dump of e-mail addresses associated with an online shop. "They're breaking into sites that are somewhat related to the stock market and stealing e-mail address from those databases. The thinking is, if they get an e-mail address for someone reading stock market and investment news, that's a perfect target for these penny stock scams," Stewart said in an interview with eWEEK.
The SpamThru spammer also controls lists of millions of e-mail addresses harvested from the hard drives of computers already in the botnet. "This gives the spammer the ability to reach individuals who have never published their e-mail address online or given it to anyone other than personal contacts," Stewart explained.
Stewart discovered that the image files in the templates are modified with every e-mail message sent, allowing the spammer to change the width and height. The image-based spam also includes random pixels at the bottom, specifically to defeat anti-spam technologies that reject mail based on a static image.The botnet is theoretically capable of sending a billion emails each day, with each having multiple recipients. And the total volume of spam has increased by 500% in the past 3 months.
I just got a spam email containing no attached images, no advertising pitches, no URLs, and indeed nothing but four letters and two digits, rendered as ASCII-art, entirely out of digits, a little like:
3822 63748 90678 64826 109067 058 09405 09 40 53 26 90 86 30 94 05 38 47 07 10985 11 34 53 84059 76 96534 961179 64 23 36 64 57 63 53 22 42 52 12659 82391 26911 126422 75 2307 8174775(This is an impression; the actual digits and the represented text were changed.)
What could this be? Is it some online version of graffiti tagging, calculated to be as obnoxiously intrusive as the real-world equivalent? Secret al-Qaeda messages to sleeper agents? A brand-building campaign for some product? Or something else altogether?
Subject: line found in spam folder: "Laboratory pep rally".
That would make a pretty good title for the kind of record one might see reviewed on Pitchfork.
Seen in a recent spam message, from one "Fawlty Towers":
vob psp gpAlong with a graphic containing a pitch for penis-enlargement pills or something of that sort, though that part is not important. It appears that these spammers are mining blogs and/or news sites for text, randomising it in some way (possibly using Markov chains), and reconstituting it in an attempt to get around keyword-based spam filters; and whilst they are doing so, they are providing the much put-upon recipients of their otherwise worthless and noisome messages with a sort of automated Dadaist poetry capturing the current zeitgeist. Zen Thanks indeed.
adapts still literary
issues gender poltiical leavens message firstrate
Pets Sports Religion
Ferry Corsten Toca Race
families higher leaflets
Author Software Handheld
Chicano cyberpunk performer discusses visionary RUSirius Duncan
viewer winzip proxy proxify
revered foolish habit. generally credited
Realtime Sweeper spyware
station Engineers DNA Nanowire Assembly
OperaThis speedy recently widgets.
punish letting Hizbollah menace
guessing painting. racist
protocol thatthe garbage
Kiwis trapped kills strikes BEIRUT: killed least punish
mail.The phrases auxiliary Compare: Youve Talebones
beside song Thus roughly
After alleged British spies were caught in Russia using a wireless receiver hidden inside a rock to communicate with recruits (though it has been suggested that the story was partly if not wholly made up by Russian government agencies to justify a crackdown on non-government organisations), security guru Bruce Schneier's blog discusses the possibility of wireless "dead drops"; and, if anything, there would be less easily detectable ways of doing it than hiding a device in a rock:
Even better, hide your wireless dead drop in plain sight by making it an open, public access point with an Internet connection so the sight of random people loitering with open laptops won't be at all unusual.
To keep the counterespionage people from wiretapping the hotspot's ISP and performing traffic analysis, hang a PC off the access point and use it as a local drop box so the communications in question never go to the ISP.And various commenters propose other suggestions for undetectable ways of passing spy information to otherwise innocent-looking WiFi access points, and receiving it afterwards:
Replace one access point at a support provider for Starbucks and then have someone figure out which one it is after it's up. Use an asic mac filter to send traffic to a special part of the access point itself.
Port knocking on that dangling PC. The PC stays in stealth mode and only replies (briefly) when knocked upon.
Even better, how about hacking one's wireless configuration manager to hide the contraband data in unused header fields, passing it to a similarly hacked access point that would be an otherwise functional dead end. The spy's laptop wifi antenna could be accidentally left activated and innocently trying to associate with whatever WAP it sees (like my wife's does in our neighborhood). Hit the right WAP(s) and the data is passed.And then there is this suggestion:
All that spam you get in your in-box is merely steganography. The word "viagra" isn't mis-spelled to get around the spam filters, it's a complicated encoding allowing the spammers and their prospective recipients to exchange messages without anyone suspecting that there are people who want the message in the message. That's why spammers don't care if they send it to people who don't want it, their goal is to make people think of their communications as discardable trash, rather than something that may have a value.
Mark Dery looks at spam subject lines as Dadaist found literature:
If only Tristan Tzara had lived to read spambot subject lines, some boiler-room hacker's idea of a foolproof strategy for bluffing your way past spam-killer defenses. "Be godparent or osteology," admonishes today's first hunk of junk mail, a Dadaist ultimatum if ever there was one. What mental-ward wisdom hides in this love-it-or-leave-it, my-way-or-the-highway dualism? Does it mean: If you're not part of a social network, bound by family ties, you've got your nose in the boneyard? "Ragweed conjunct Sherlocke," the next spam asserts, cryptically. A reference to Conan Doyle's mythical detective?
But why the antique terminal "e"? Intriguingly, this one makes use of the market-tested alt.music formula of stringing together three unrelated words to generate a record title or bandname guaranteed to inspire hours of beer-bong explication de texte, as in Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot or The Butthole Surfers' Locust Abortion Technician or Independent Worm Saloon or the Mother of Them All, Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica. Do spambot programmers in offshore sweatshops have a secret sweet spot for the Captain? Or is there a neurocognitive reason for our requirement that three's the magic number when it comes to dream-logic word games? I've archived mails with Beefheartian subject lines such as "biracial Auerbach crankshaft," "boil longleg Kant" (those of us with little patience for the bewigged old dear couldn't agree more) and the painful-sounding "hardwood pancreatic departure".
(via bOING bOING)
I just received a spam with fragments of The Master and Margarita (in English) at the end (to fool filters). It looks like the spammers are working their way forward through the Russian literary canon.
According to my spam filter, "Colene Grudmanish" says "But now I can penetrate hardly and give the pleasure to every woman!".
According to Technorati, one blog is created every second. The report doesn't say how many of those are search-engine spammers' link farms.
Russia's biggest spammer found battered to death in his Moscow apartment. Insert repurposed jokes about disliked professions here.
The latest malware won't merely spew ads at you or use your Windows PC as a zombie to send spam: it will encrypt your files and demand a ransom for the key:
Stewart managed to unlock the infected computer files without paying the extortion, but he worries that improved versions might be more difficult to overcome. Internet attacks commonly become more effective as they evolve over time as hackers learn to avoid the mistakes of earlier infections.
"The problem is getting away with it -- you've got to send the money somewhere," Stewart said. "If it involves some sort of monetary transaction, it's far easier to trace than an e-mail account."Perhaps future versions will demand that the users donate CPU cycles/network bandwidth instead of money? Then again, those are easy enough to steal without extortion.
It looks like spammers have hit on the technique of putting articles about whatever they're trying to flog into Wikipedia and then sending out spam citing that as an authoritative source, in the hope that at least one person gullible enough to buy from spammers is impressed. Quoting from a recently caught spam:
The only effective nonsurgical method to lengthen the penis is by employing devices that pull at the glans of the penis for extended periods of time. This is known as traction; where tissues under continuous tension will undergoe cellular multiplication. The result is tissue expansion, resulting in a permanent increase of the tissue...
Source : Wikipedia
Q: Did you hear the one about the dyslexic porn spammer?
A: He was last seen in my spam filter, trying to sell "insect home video"
A proposed solution to email spam, which takes into account advances in character-recognition algorithms (which can now trivially break many "captcha" schemes) and the economics of spammers hiring sweatshop workers to transcribe the codes in question. It involves automatic whitelists, disposable sub-addresses, and are-you-a-human tests based on interpreting computer-rendered scenes involved humanoid figures and flowers.
Google have developed a solution for stopping comment spam, or, more precisely, for denying spammers any search engine-related benefits from getting their URLs all over blogs, guestbooks and bulletin boards. From now on, any links on a web page with the rel="nofollow" attribute will be ignored by search engines. This has broad support; on the search engine side, Google, Yahoo! and MSN Search are heeding this tag, and various blogging tool providers, including SixApart, LiveJournal, Blogger and WordPress, have added automatic support of this link to their comment/trackback mechanisms. (As, of today, has this blog.)
Which seems like a pretty elegant solution; rather than shutting down comments or removing functionality (such as the ability of commenters to include links to their sites or relevant pages or otherwise leverage the hypertextual nature of the web), marking the links as not endorsed by the site, and to be ignored by participating search engines (which should soon be all of them, given that it's an excellent indicator of potential link relevance, and not heeding it can impair the relevance of the engine's results).
Excerpts from a recent spam:
From: "Protection against human viruses"
Subject: Antidote found in Crocodiles
We have an Alternative to DRUGS & ANTIBIOTICS. A Miracle Protein than can = help people with serious diseases
Kills ALL known deadly Viruses & Bacteria in the body that keep diseases, = namely: Influenza, SARS, Cancer, HIV etc.
A disease must be made DORMANT to stop infection.
'The ANTIDOTE' is the answer.
WE ARE THE ONLY COMPANY IN THE WORLD WHO HAVE DEVELOPED AND ENHANCED THIS = PRODUCT FOR SALE.
Crocodiles, eh? I wonder whether the spam script has a list of several possible sources, and randomly chooses one for each copy. ("Antidote found in Anteaters"?)
The sad thing is, even if one person in a million is gullible (or merely desperate) enough to buy it, the spammers will have profited.
Lycos has scrapped a screensaver which launched denial-of-service attacks against spammers, after apparently rendering some spam-advertised sites unreachable. I'm in two minds about this: on one hand, as spammers have no respect for propriety, one could argue it's a case of live-by-the-sword, die-by-the-sword. On the other hand, vigilante action can turn into mob rule, with unpopularity standing in for guilt. What's to stop, for example, a right-wing warblog distributing a screensaver that does a DDOS on the Guardian Online, thousands of PCs in the Red States launching attacks on Planned Parenthood (in fact, I suspect the anti-abortion movement will adopt this tactic sooner or later, given that, to them, it's about saving lives), or radical-left groups using similar tactics to silence those they deem ideologically unsound? Indeed, if such tactics become mainstream, we could look forward to a future where people install cause-affiliated DDOS software on their computers as they once wore badges or ribbons, and debating one's opponents taking a back seat to the far less taxing and more fulfilling activity of shutting them down.
Have the hurricanes which have battered Florida perceptibly reduced the volume of spam?
Found in my spam filter:
email@example.com (THE CHEAPEST with QUALITY \/IAGRA Preview )
Not necessarily the best advertisement. Imagine if they had been hawking home loans instead.
Bizarre spam subject line of the day: "swap some nipples tonight". Which sounds like it comes from the same bizarre parallel universe as "enraged baboon fucking a nipple factory".
One missive of unknown content from a "Latoya Cottonmouth", and another one from someone else, whose subject line urges me to "sacrifice a little incandescent rutlidge". Poor little incandescent rutlidges!
Spam subject line of the day: "Chat with cunts on the internet!".
I don't know whether they're selling a porn site or advertising careers in tech support.
I just got some spam from a "Tumdx Vtnnsa". They're not even bothering to make up plausible-sounding names anymore.
Among the names attached to recent offers of black-market anatomical/financial services: Houston Spangler (from Germany, no less), Felix Crockett, Queen L. Butcher and Mallory Justice.
I just got an email from "Gino Guy" offering Help with Mortgage or Debt. Hang on; wasn't he an Italian disco one-hit-wonder from the late 1980s?
In today's spam, "Kareem Presley", of Bulgaria, wants to sell me some stock which is "showing triple-digit earnings growth this year". The deal is apparently so good that he mailed it to me in triplicate.
Via Slashdot, an intriguing PowerPoint presentation (PDF) analysing spam, and using techniques to determine its origins. Among other claims it makes, spam intended to sell things is in the minority, and a lot of spam consists of other spammers' ads, resent to either identify valid recipients or to act as a carrier for encrypted messages between IRC groups. (It doesn't say anything about al-Qaeda terrorist cells or the like, but one imagines that if someone want to send coded instructions to covert operatives without disclosing their locations to traffic analysis, this would be a hell of a lot less conspicuous than mailing a Hotmail address accessed from a net café in Baluchistan or someplace.)
Recent spammer pseudonyms of note: "Barton Burch", "Amado Travis", "Brain Velez" (wonder if he has a brother named Pinky) and "Pearlie Resendez".
I just found the following in my mailbox:
Subject: Email account utilization warning.
Dear user of Null.org,
Our main mailing server will be temporary unavaible for next two days, to continue receiving mail in these days you have to configure our free auto-forwarding service.
For more information see the attached file.
Have a good day,
The Null.org team http://www.null.org
Given that I own null.org (and that no address such as "firstname.lastname@example.org" actually exists), I must say I was a touch suspicious. And then I looked at the attachment portion of the email:
Content-Type: application/octet-stream; name="Information.pif" Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64 Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="Information.pif"
Which looks to be a Windows executable of some sort. That's undoubtedly the "free auto-forwarding service" they mentioned. I'm sure it would have done exactly as that, only with the proviso of forwarding penis-pill spam to millions of mailboxes worldwide through my machine.
That is, if I (a) used a Windows machine, and (b) was sufficiently clueless to open an attachment from somebody claiming to be in charge of the "main mailing server" on my domain.
The Observer speaks to computer virus writers. According to this article, most of them are European teenagers, and the guys-without-girlfriends stereotype isn't strictly accurate; more to the point, most of them (if they are to be believed) write viruses just for the technical challenge and don't actually release them. (Though they do show them off, and consequently script kiddies and miscellaneous impulsive psychopaths do end up releasing them.)
The people who release the viruses are often anonymous mischief-makers, or 'script kiddies'. That's a derisive term for aspiring young hackers, usually teenagers or students, who don't yet have the skill to program computers but like to pretend they do. They download the viruses, claim to have written them themselves and then set them free in an attempt to assume the role of a fearsome digital menace. Script kiddies often have only a dim idea of how the code works and little concern for how a digital plague can rage out of control. Our modern virus epidemic is thus born of a symbiotic relationship between the people smart enough to write a virus and the people dumb enough - or malicious enough - to spread it.
In related news: German magazine c't apparently has evidence that virus writers are selling 0wned machines to spammers. In this case, "virus writers" probably means "hoodlums who hang around virus writers' forums".
The rather eye-opening dissection of an online greeting-card spam; an email telling the user to go to a web site to see an electronic greeting card, and the website in question, which uses Internet Explorer security holes to overwrite your Windows Media Player and install a keylogger apparently programmed to look for online banking sites (and undetectable by current spyware detectors). Nasty; and another reason to not use IE (or, preferably, Windows). (via Slashdot)
The latest weapon in the war on spam is SPF; this is essentially a whitelisting technique which uses DNS servers to check whether a message really comes from the domain in the From: address. The way it works is essentially this: when a machine with IP address 22.214.171.124 connects to a mail relay to send a message, whose sender address says it's From: email@example.com, it looks up the DNS info on schmoop.com, and checks for a SPF entry. If there is one, it checks to see whether 126.96.36.199 is a legitimate schmoop.com host. If it isn't, it can reject the mail or bump up its SpamAssassin score or take some other action.
Of course, like all enhanced security measures, SPF removes convenience; for one, using a .forward file to forward mail from one account to another will fall foul of SPF, as the mail's origin (your other account) and its From: address (the sender) typically won't match (unless all your friends are on your local machine anyway). Secondly, putting an email address other than the one your ISP gives you (or one in a domain belonging to whoever runs your SMTP server) could result in your mail being rejected; which is a problem if you have a mail alias at a k3wl vanity domain but don't use that domain's SMTP servers for sending your mail.
It looks like the company that bought SpamCop is in the "bulk email tools" business. We'll see if they end up compromising SpamCop or turning it into a racket, selling favoured spammers safe passage to your inbox.
Some spammer seems to have convinced spamcop.net's registrar to delete their domain. Chances are I won't be getting any mail over the next few days.
The next breakthrough in machine intelligence is likely to come from the war between spammers and makers of spam filters: in particular, the hardest machine vision and reasoning problems are the scene of an arms race between spam bots and bot-detection systems, often known as "CAPTCHAs". Typically these take the form of the distorted letters/numerals you have to enter when signing up for your new free webmail account, but others are being worked on. Meanwhile, new generations of bots are emerging which are better at coping with the systems in use.
I wonder whether we'll soon see a breakthrough in AI enter the body of scientific literature not by being discovered by a AI researcher but by being dissected out of a captured bot by some sort of cyberzoologist, its principles becoming gradually revealed as its innards are studied, and the real discoverers remaining forever anonymous (if perhaps comfortably well-off) in the spam underworld.
In my spam filter today, I found a mail with the title "julian haight funds terrorists b alqoswmw l lgng", referring to the outfit that runs SpamCop, and outlining grievances against the email filtering service:
You are reciving this email because we are having some trouble with an infamous company (http://spamcop.net) who seem to be hell bent on destroying not only my business but many other legitimate website owners and email list operators.
The email (sent through spam software, as evidenced by the anti-Vipul's-Razor garbage in the subject line) goes on with allegations of SpamCop fraudulently forging spam complaints against "legitimate operators" of "opt-in mailing lists" (funny, I don't remember opting in to this guy's mailing list) and "taking away our freedom of speech" and causing "financial disruption to companys who have invested years of hard work" for calling on right-minded internet users to lobby their ISPs to use a spam filter which lets through anything with an unsubscribe link (as that must be legitimate "opt-in" mail, right?).
Then, if that wasn't enough to persuade you, the patriotic consumer, to abandon SpamCop, it drops this bombshell:
Julian haight spamcops CEO is rumoured to have conections with Al-Quada, one of the most disruptive terrorist orginisations on earth. hes specialty is cyber terrorism. which disperses highly needed homeland security funds by rendering multi million dollar industrys unprofitable.
haights main motive is the perversion of American free enterprise.
Gee, if that's the case I'd better stop using SpamCop. Not only am I foolishly cutting myself off from worlds of financial and anatomical opportunity, but I'm Helping The Terrorists Win. I didn't realise the penis-pill industry was such a champion of truth, justice and the American Way.
Good to see that SpamCop is pissing them off. Oh, and one word of advice: if starting a whispering campaign against an anti-spam service provider, sending spam is probably not the most credible way to begin.
The floating, untraceable online Forbidden City mentioned in that William Gibson book (Idoru, I think it was) is a reality; only, in reality, it sells fraudulent financial products and penis pills: a Polish "spacker" group is using trojanned PCs to "untraceably" host spammers' web sites. The system works by routing requests to the hijacked machines with special DNS servers run by the group:
According to Tubul, his group controls 450,000 "Trojaned" systems, most of them home computers running Windows with high-speed connections. The hacked systems contain special software developed by the Polish group that routes traffic between Internet users and customers' websites through thousands of the hijacked computers. The numerous intermediary systems confound tools such as traceroute, effectively laundering the true location of the website. To utilize the service, customers simply configure their sites to use any of several domain-name system servers controlled by the Polish group, Tubul said.
"Hackers used to detest spammers, but now that spamming has become such a big business, it's suddenly cool to be a spammer," Linford said. He said the junk e-mail business has also recently attracted "engineers who have been laid off or fired, and people who really know what they're doing with networking and DNS."
That's one of those things that is simultaneously fascinating and repugnant, much like a predatory wasp laying eggs inside a paralysed prey or something. (via bOING bOING)
The spammers are getting smarter; they've taken to exploiting security holes in things such as PHP photo gallery scripts and installing custom spam servers on the compromised machines. Here's an article by someone who found his machine sending spam and reverse-engineered the spam daemon (which had been carefully hidden and rather cunningly designed), unearthing a spam operation involving machines in the US, Germany and Russia. The steps in the reverse-engineering are described in the PDF document, along with links to the various tools and kernel patches used.
This makes one wonder: could this be the tip of the iceberg? If this is one of the spam bots that has been found, could there be others even more stealthily hidden? It would theoretically be possible to design one which works as a kernel-module root kit, invisibly integrating itself into the running Linux kernel and operating without any trace visible from the machine. (Given the Siberian connection, there are probably vast communities of ex-KGB security experts and unemployed engineering PhDs (most of whom play a mean game of chess, too) capable of coding some fiendishly sophisticated exploits, many willing to work for whoever pays in hard currency; and that's only looking at potential talent in Russia; there certainly enough highly talented programmers out there to write incredibly elaborate and sneaky exploits for the reward of one sucker in 100 million sending their credit card number; how's that for an asymmetric warfare scenario?)
What does a notorious spammer do after retiring? He goes into the nightclub business. (via jwz, ironically enough)
Meanwhile, Sanford "Spam King" Wallace's former business partner Walt Rines is still into dubious online marketing ventures. He sells software for spamming online message boards, and also has a lucrative sideline in preying on gullible Windows users:
Rines has also created a website called Kazanon.com where he distributes a program that, according to the site, enables users to run file-sharing programs without being detected. Rines said he has distributed around 100,000 copies of Kazanon in about two weeks.
But an analysis of the Kazanon software by Lurhq, a security services firm, revealed that the program doesn't make users invisible online at all. Instead, the code simply appears to install a component of ClientMan that allows the program to stealthily download other programs onto the user's PC, said Lurhq senior researcher Joe Stewart.
Rines said Kazanon is "an experiment" and that he is mainly trying to determine "what people will agree to download."
*ahem* Is this thing switched on?
The EFA looks at Senator Alston's spam bill. It looks like the possibility of the World's Biggest Luddite having crafted a fair and enlightened spam law was too good to be true; according to the EFA, the bill will give miscellaneous ill-defined government officials sweeping search-and-seizure powers without the need for criminal proceedings, and also legitimise spam from various parties (including Alston's favourites, religious groups, who will be able to tell you why you're going to burn in hell with impunity).
China moves to block spam senders, blocking 127 machines sending e-mail spam. Before you get excited at the prospect of less spam, note that all but 8 of the servers are outside of China, and 90 are in Taiwan. This suggests that the Chinese government may be more concerned about political dissidents spamming Chinese internet users with proscribed messages than they are about genuinely cracking down on penis-pill-hawking chickenboners. Either that or this is connected to the China/Taiwan "hacker war" in the news recently.
WIRED tracks down the guy behind all those spams asking to buy time machine parts to travel back in time and fix his broken life (and didn't we all wish we could do that at some stage?) It appears that he's a commercial spammer/conman who was driven to insanity by the relentless hounding of the anti-spam gestapo. Either that or it's some sort of scam. (via Techdirt)
Found in my spam filter:
firstname.lastname@example.org (Need sex tonight? Need a partner? Find one here.. Preview )
Now why does that remind me of a certain Digital Underground concept album (you know, the one that all the MONDO 2000/21C pomo types raved about back when anything that could be connected to "virtual reality" or "teledildonics" was hot)?
From my SpamCop filter:
 email@example.com (You're someone's American Idol _Preview_ )
That's funny, because last time I checked, I wasn't American.
That's one of the annoying things about spam; other than assuming that you're a financially bankrupt sexually depraved narcissist, most of it assumes that you're (a) American, or (b) fluent in Spanish, Chinese or Korean. I suppose if someone's already a bottom-feeding scumbag, there's no point in them weeding out the obviously inappropriate addresses. After all, it's not like it's their own network bandwidth they're wasting. Hell, why not? Who says there isn't at least one gullible Sino-Argentino-American pornhound somewhere in the .aq domain?
Oh, and if you're the one who has been submitting my address to those "someone has a crush on you" websites, don't bother; I don't feed them. (Given that they're a scam for harvesting email addresses for spamming, for one.) (In fact, if you've developed a crush on someone just by reading their blog, I suggest that you see your mental health professional.)
The street finds its own uses for distributed computing, it seems: those generous souls who fill our mailboxes with penis enlargement/debt elimination advertisements have decided to help out struggling students; specifically, spammers are paying students to install spam relay software on computers in their dormitories. The software works not unlike Seti@Home and such, only rather than solving computational problems, it relays unsolicited advertisements, hiding its origins. All this is hardly surprising; with their tight finances and access to free broadband, students would make a tempting target for such opportunists. And, of course, those students gullible enough to fall for it end up losing their network connections. (via TechDirt)
It seems that the asp-heads, those unimpeachably honorable defenders of the integrity of intellectual property (and consequently civilisation; see Ayn Rand for details), are now turning to spam to advertise. I found a spam advertising "anti-piracy" services "Locating software piracy sites", "Internet piracy monitoring", "evidence collection" in my mailbox, with the following disclaimer:
This letter is not SPAM! You have previously opted to receive promotional emails from xxxxxxxxxxx.com. If you wish to unsubscribe please call us at 1-661-832-5757
Any further comment would be superfluous.
Excerpts from a porn spam recently intercepted by my spam filter, allegedly from someone named "Doroty":
Subject: [ Greetings sugar Acb, I am Doroty, sexy sweetheart ]
Anyway I am online all the time come see me and we can chat.... I have a drip running down my leg already thinking about you.
A drip? Like a medical drip? I wonder if they're connected with those "Mortal Dance in Machine Ambulance" ambulance-fetish porn spammers out of Russia.
This is not an UCE! This is a friendly bonus from Doroty.
You either registered to free Internet resource lately or someone entered your address for you.
To get out from future notifications, send any email here:firstname.lastname@example.org
I suspect that the Ukrainian Mafia's porn spam operations need to work on their English a bit more.
I just got a spam claiming to be from a major Australian advertising agency (Singleton Ogilvy & Mather) on behalf of American Express; it was sent to an email address I hadn't put on anything for some years and had ACN numbers at the bottom and everything. Now it could be some sort of fraud, but if it isn't, it looks like major Australian advertising agencies are now adopting the trade practices of trailer-park chickenboner conmen. Could it be a sign that Australia's economy is going the way of Argentina and other spam-centric econimies?
In any case, I've sent it to SpamCop.
Porn spammers are taking to online dating web sites to prey on the unloved and gullible; it now seems that 3% of online personals are spam, crafted to collect email addresses and hopefully sucker the respondent into subscribing to a porn site.
While the ads are tricky to spot, it's not impossible. They tend to be women in their 20s who have very general information listed in their personal essays, and often leave many personal details fields blank. And of course, an immediate request for a private e-mail address should be suspicious.
Salon looks at the seedy world of someone-has-a-crush-on-you sites; some of which operate as unethical marketing operations at best and spam email harvesters at worst, preying on the desperate and socially challenged. (via Techdirt)
More twisted spam: A few weeks after "Mortal Dance in Machine Ambulance", I found in my spam filter a missive from someone calling themself "Necro Babe", apparently advertising a Russian web site with "Women In Coffins", "Sick stories about Death and Corpses", "Real Murder Shots", and, cryptically, "Car Incidents". And, thoughtfully enough, they included a disclaimer, warning that it's 'not for so-called "normal" people'. No mention of extreme-right-wing heavy metal bands playing in ambulances this time; though it's a worry. Who would be into that kind of thing? Bored suburban teenagers? Serial-killer wannabes? Or perhaps all those jaded net porn addicts for whom milder bizarre sexual fetishes just don't do it anymore.
The next wave in marketing is here: chatroom bots or "buddies" with virtual personalities, which befriend people, make conversation and gently encourage them to consume lifestyle products -- and potentially provide marketing analysts with a lot of customer-profile data in the form of conversations.
Most buddies are programmed with personalities that appeal to their target audiences. ELLEgirlBuddy, the Internet ego of teen magazine ELLEgirl, is a redheaded 16-year-old who likes kickboxing, the color periwinkle and French class. GooglyMinotaur, a buddy for the British progressive rock band Radiohead, affected a British demeanor with words like "mate." The Austin Powers buddy, which promotes the summer film "Goldmember," interjects the movie character's favorite phrases - "yeah, baby" and "grrr" - into conversation.
Perhaps surprisingly, thanks to improvements in natural-language technology and extensive customer databases, the bots give the illusion of being sentient. People know they're machines, but choose to suspend disbelief.
ActiveBuddy's bots save details about each user - names, birth dates, even instances when the person used offensive language. When the buddy recalls these facts, it could appear to the user that it is taking a genuine interest in him or her. "We're programmed to respond to certain signals as though in the presence of a life form," said MIT's Turkle. "These objects are pushing our buttons."
Seen in spam filter: a spam with the title "Mortal dance in machine ambulance". It's supposedly for some ambulance-themed porn site run by someone whose first language is not English.
In any case, "mortal dance in machine ambulance" sounds like a great title for an industrial/noise CD (think Coil or someone).
Spam subject line of the day: "BE A MAGNET THAT ONLY ATTRACTS WOMEN"
I'm still waiting for some spammer to better that with "BE A MAGNET THAT ATTRACTS BOTH WOMEN AND MONEY" or something. And then maybe a third one topping that with "ATTRACT WOMEN, MONEY AND LUXURY HOLIDAYS WHILST REPELLING TAX INSPECTORS AND DEBT COLLECTORS" or something.
Spam watch: Someone calling themselves Roxie Leeks just sent me mail trying to sell me some sort of dental-care programme. I ask you: would you trust your teeth to someone named "Roxie Leeks"?
(It's a bit like those offers of financial services from people with names like porn stars. Very reassuring, that...)
Wow! I just got mail telling me I've won the porn lotto. And I didn't even know there was such a thing as a porn lotto. Those Brazilians are so generous...
Extreme marketing in the new millennium: Here come the banner ads which install spyware, disable firewall software; the rogue pop-up ad in question uses a Shockwave applet and an Internet Explorer bug to surreptitiously download and install the software onto the user's PC. Needless to say, it only affects the 99.999% of users who use Windows; Maccies and Penguinheads can look smug.
Found art: SpamRadio. Spam turned into music with the help of a speech synthesizer. (Though for some reason it plays at double speed here.) (via bOING bOING)
Buddy Weiserman vs. Prince Jubril Turey of Sierra Leone; or the story of how an anonymous prankster took a Nigerian 419 scammer for a ride (persuading him to catch a bus across Africa and chicken-dance in Ghana in the hope of snaring his mark). (via bOING bOING)
The Nigerian mail scammers are diversifying; I just found a spam in my inbox from someone claiming to be a preacher in the "Seed Harvest Ministry", needing to find some way of disposing of US$30 million left in a church by Nigerian soldiers during the Liberian civil war.
I am interested in using a small fraction of this money, much less than one percent for a re-organization of the work of God, but I do not need the rest and do not want to have any direct dealing with it, but I need someone who will be able to use the fund better maybe for charity or something universally profitable, I have thought of doing it myself but, my ministry is the apocalypse and I believe and preach the soon coming of the Lord which make me not indulgent in reliance on money or wealth in any form.
"Won't you ever ask me / who's going to make this night / the loneliest night of the year:" Valentine's Day, that celebration of the essentiality of coupledness to human self-worth and the essentiality of conspicuous consumption to the maintenance of coupledness, is approaching. Already the signs are appearing, just like shop-window Christmas paraphernalia in early November: pink, fluffy ads for romance-related goods and services are hung in shop windows, and spam reading "VALENTINE MUST: VIAGRA ORDERS MADE EASY" is flooding into inboxes.
The future of online marketing? As banner-ad revenue declines and online marketers search for new ways to irritate their customers into paying attention, an English magazine firm has come across an attention-grabbing new tactic: Emap send email to customers, accusing them of accessing illegal pornography, telling them that details had been passed on to the police, and offering a link they could click to appeal against the charges. The link went to a web site advertising the MaxPower car show, orgainsed by Emap. What next? "I've been screwing your wife. Click here to see my AIDS test results.", perhaps? (via Found)
Chutzpah, part II: Spammers subvert Gnutella, taking advantage of its anonymity to flood searchers with bogus results, with complete impunity. And for only US$80, you too can participate in the spam bonanza. Could this be an actual money-making scam, a RIAA-sponsored "black-op" of some sort, or a media stunt of some sort?
Viral marketing: Windows email worm links to porn sites, sends itself to victim's contacts. (CNN)