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Q: whys and wherefores of SPAM ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   8 Comments )
Question  
Subject: whys and wherefores of SPAM
Category: Computers > Internet
Asked by: timespacette-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 04 Jul 2006 14:07 PDT
Expires: 03 Aug 2006 14:07 PDT
Question ID: 743340
I don't get it. Would someone please explain?

Why do they do it?   What do they get for doing it?  Why always the
text at the end taken from somewhere or completely scrambled?

If I open the message do I open myself to more?   (I never click on
their URL if they provide one)

How are they getting my email address?

I need a basics course in the whys and wherefores of SPAMMERS

examples below:

# 1:

Hi,
 
CzIALIS
AzMBIEN
VzIAGRA
VzALIUM
 
http://antirsteek.com
 
Bilbo.
You have nice manners for a thief and a liar, said the dragon. You
seem familiar with my name, but I dont seem to remember smelling you


#2.

Hi,
 
VzALIUM
AzMBIEN
VzIAGRA
CzIALIS
 
http://usincreati.com
 
These were smooth, cut out of the living rock broad and lair; and up,
up, the dwarves went, and they met no sign of any living thing, only
furtive shadows that fled from the approach of their torches fluttering

#3.

Hi
,
Go to the web site and economise up to 50 % on your Med http://qefscxzatun.com
,
,
,
,
,
,
Bilbo went to sleep with that in his ears, and it gave him very
uncomfortable dreams. It was long after the break of day, when he woke up.
Chapter 2
Roast Mutton
Up jumped Bilbo, and putting on his dressing-gown went into the
dining-room. There he saw nobody, but all the signs of a large and

#4.
Heya, 

Beverley told me to shoot you an email about the store I visited to
accept my stuff at.  I had to look through my netscape but i finally
found it at
://www.google.com/url?q=http://tmrmw.asabotyandno.org/hy/

danger hours condolence that In in call John however to the told it
lots widow anis who  the intense stopped of opposite debate him tall
The in midsentence stories; Montagues something I thatwear think

Sharlene



****
Answer  
Subject: Re: whys and wherefores of SPAM
Answered By: pinkfreud-ga on 04 Jul 2006 17:46 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
 
Spammers are using various creative methods to subvert spam-blockers.
This sometimes results in some mighty peculiar emails. I've gathered
material on some of the methods that are used.

"The addition of seemingly nonsensical words is aimed at confusing the
antispam filters that incorporate Bayesian analysis techniques, such
as SpamBayes and SpamAssassin. These filters examine incoming e-mail
messages and calculate the probability of it being spam based on each
message's contents...

By throwing a hundred or so random words rarely used in sales spiels
into each e-mail missive, spammers hope to thwart Bayesian filters by
making the spam appear to be personal correspondence. Incorporating
words that might be used in legitimate e-mails is also intended to
poison the checklist the filter uses, forcing it to mark, for example,
e-mails with somewhat common words like Amazon and fish as spam
indicators.

The strange strings of words, which usually appear at the bottom of
spam and sometimes in the subject line, are automatically added by
spammers' mass-mailer software, according to Steve Linford of
Spamhaus, an antispam advocacy organization.

'This random noise is technically known as a hash buster,' Linford explained."
 
Wired News: Random Acts of Spamness
http://www.wired.com/news/infostructure/0,1377,61886,00.html

"Spammers try to circumvent the email filters by intentionally
misspelling common spam filter trigger words. For example, 'viagra'
might become 'vaigra', or other symbols may be inserted into the word
as in "v/i/a/g./r/a". ISPs have begun to use the misspellings
themselves as a filtering test."

Wikipedia: Spam (electronic)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spam_(electronic)

"Bayesian spam filters... look at the content of a message and 'weigh'
the presence of spam-related words (e.g., 'viagra', 'remove', etc.)
against the message as a whole. If you can contrive to put enough
'neutral' text in your spam message, you might be able to drop it
below the statistical threshhold of such filters. And so, spammers
will often introduce lots of unelated words or phrases, sometimes
inside the HTML markup (but often outside it, after the final </HTML>
tag. Sometimes they mask the words by making them the same color as
the page background, or putting them in a comment. Often, the words
are quotations from some unnamed literary work, but they may just as
often be randomly generated strings of words.

In the most recent spams I?m getting, the ratio of bogus text to real
text has increased markedly, and the spammers are also no longer
always bothering to make it invisible. When combined with the
'creative misspelling' trick, this results in sales pitches that are
almost complete gibberish."

Rick's Spam Digest: Popular spammer tricks
http://rickconner.net/spamweb/tricks.html

"A Web beacon is an object that is embedded in a Web page or e-mail
and is usually invisible to the user but allows checking that a user
has viewed the page or e-mail. Alternative names are Web bug, tracking
bug, pixel tag, and clear gif... Typically, a Web beacon is a small
(usually 11 pixels) transparent GIF image (or an image of the same
color of the background) that is embedded in an HTML page, usually a
page on the Web or the content of an e-mail. Whenever the user opens
the page with a graphical browser or e-mail reader, the image is
downloaded. This download requires the browser to request the image
from the server storing it, allowing the server to take notice of the
download. As a result, the organization running the server is informed
of when the HTML page has been viewed...

Web beacons are used by e-mail marketers, including spammers, to
verify that e-mail addresses are valid and that the content of e-mails
is actually viewed by users. When the user reads the e-mail, the
e-mail client requests the image, letting the sender know that the
e-mail address is valid and that e-mail was viewed. The e-mail need
not contain an advertisement or anything else related to the
commercial activity of the spammer. This makes detection of such
e-mails harder for mail filters and users.

Tracking via web beacons can be prevented by using mail clients that
do not download images whose URLs are embedded in HTML e-mails."

Wikipedia: Web bug
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Webbug

My Google search strategy:

Google Web Search: "spammers' tricks OR techniques"
://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22spammers%27+tricks+OR+techniques%22

Google Web Search: "hash buster OR busting"
://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22hash+buster+OR+busting%22

Google Web Search: "web bug OR beacon" spam
://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22web+bug+OR+beacon%22+spam

Best regards,
p/i/n/k/f/r/e/u/d
timespacette-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
thanks for the info and a different perspective on the phone workers;
you're absolutely right.

Comments  
Subject: Re: whys and wherefores of SPAM
From: pinkfreud-ga on 04 Jul 2006 14:18 PDT
 
Strings of random words or phrases are often "hash busters." 

This may be helpful:

http://www.answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=422726
Subject: Re: whys and wherefores of SPAM
From: timespacette-ga on 04 Jul 2006 14:33 PDT
 
That's helpful, thanks Pink . . . I imagine inserted 'z' into the
names of drugs they're selling is another way to avert the spam
filters

are they simply playing a numbers game?   a certain percentage of all
the millions that go out will actually take the bait . . . ?

all the spam I'm getting these days all have CC's to a number of other
addresses that all have our ISP's address after the 'at' sign .    How
are they getting into the ISP's system?   Our ISP has never been able
to provide a real explanation for this, but the spams are getting more
and more frequent.  I resent having to take the time to put each one
on my filter's black list!

and does it endanger me in any way if I open the message?

ps.    I went to spamcops.com but they don't seem to have instructions
for Mac Mail which is what I'm using these days.  They don't even have
Entourage, it looks like . . . or is that part of Outlook Express?


puzzled and confoosed


***
Subject: Re: whys and wherefores of SPAM
From: pinkfreud-ga on 04 Jul 2006 14:43 PDT
 
They are playing a numbers game. Amazing as it may seem, there are
people who respond to spam. The cost of massive numbers of emails is
so small that this method of peddling one's wares doesn't require a
huge response in order to make a boatload o' bucks.

In addition to the money from sales of the product, the spam-sucker
customer's name and contact info may become sources of additional
revenue for the spammer. Buy from a spam email, and -- as if by magic
-- the number of spam emails you receive will multiply almost
immediately! Wow! Instant popularity!
Subject: Re: whys and wherefores of SPAM
From: kingal-ga on 04 Jul 2006 14:44 PDT
 
Unbelievably, some people are stupid enough to take the bait. Since
sending email is basically free, even 1 response out of 10,000 can be
very profitable.

I've noticed the same thing about all the email addresses being in the
same ISP. They don't have to get into the ISP - I guess that they
either send it to every email address that they have from that ISP, or
maybe they use a dictionary program to generate possible email
addresses.

Yes, opening the email can be bad. If you have HTML enabled, your mail
program may open any embedded images, which lets the sender know that
you opened that email.
Subject: Re: whys and wherefores of SPAM
From: timespacette-ga on 04 Jul 2006 15:45 PDT
 
Pink,

I think you should post the answer, since you pretty much answered the quest . . .

but here's a bonus question:   (ha!)

one spammer actually provided an 800 number to call to sign on to
their get rich quick product.

I'm looking for ideas on creative ways to call them and give them what for . . .

any suggestions?  

(I must be trying to avoid something in my life if I'm willing to
spend time doing this . . . yes, it's true)


***
Subject: Re: whys and wherefores of SPAM
From: elids-ga on 04 Jul 2006 15:53 PDT
 
If you can access your e-mail on-line I highly recommend you first
scan it there, delete everything you don?t recognize. Anything that
you are not certain off send to a filter  folder like the ?Junk? one
Hotmail has or the ?Bulk? folder Yahoo gives you, all images are
always blocked by default. If after you?ve seen the contents of the
e-mail and it comes from somebody you know but it is empty with an
attachment chances are that it is a virus/worm etc. unless Susie Q.
tell?s you ?hey Time, I?m attaching XYZ here for you? again delete it.
 In that manner you will never get anything, and since you are being
very liberal with the delete button and you will let your friends &
family know about it, if they want to reach you they will put it on
the subject line.

Delete ?em all.
Subject: Re: whys and wherefores of SPAM
From: pinkfreud-ga on 04 Jul 2006 16:28 PDT
 
timespacette,

Regarding "creative ways" to contact the spammers' 800 number, please
consider that anything you do is likely to have much more impact on
the folks who answer the phones than it is on the spam tycoons at the
top. I feel sorry for the people who do this kind of work, and I
wouldn't want to make things any worse for them. I have several
friends who have worked on inbound toll-free sales lines, and it can
be a high-stress, low-income job.

I'd be glad to prepare an answer for you with links about hash-busters
and such things, if that would be fully satisfactory.
Subject: Re: whys and wherefores of SPAM
From: timespacette-ga on 04 Jul 2006 17:04 PDT
 
yes, good.

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