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Spammers Strike Back
Douglas Chick

Three anti-spam Web sites that provide spam-blocking lists, or black hole-lists, have been shut down by attacks from the Internet, presumably by spammers.  With the ongoing war between spammers vs. anti-spammers, spammers have hit back hard. 

Who are spammers targeting?
Anti-spam services are companies that house list of known spammer IP addresses or domain names. Network administrators use the names and addresses on these black hole lists to stop spammer from sending unsolicited e-mail. Apparently, this block-list method was working well enough to warrant such an attack that would close down three of the largest block-lists on the Internet.

Who are the Spam Hackers?
What many people fail to realize is that many spammers either employ hackers to do their bidding or are hackers themselves. Who else is technically capable of harvesting e-mail addresses from the Internet, sending mass mailers from spoofed IP addresses and even sending mail from other peoples e-mail servers but a network administrator or other type of software handler. You weren’t thinking advertising executives where doing all of this, were you? So the battle between white hat and black hat hackers is on. But what would cause a computer person to reduce him or herself to become a spammer? NO JOBS!

          If you measure the amount of spam being sent against the rate that computer people that have lost their jobs, you might see that they are directly proportional to each other. I’m not defending the actions of spammers, but many computer people have no choice because not only are there no computer jobs, but there are not any other type of job out there either. An unemployed computer professional can easily be turned to a dark hacker when no jobs are available. Sometimes, when you have a family to feed you have no choice but to sell your services to the dark side. And it doesn’t help matters much when you see so many American jobs outsourced to overseas workers, or bringing in foreign guest workers to take U.S. IT jobs. 


Where’s the money in Spam?

I’m sure that you’ve asked yourself, “How is anyone making money with spam?” There are several ways to make money in the spamming industry: Harvesting E-mail addresses, sending the spam, and Affiliate programs.

  • Harvesting e-mail addresses is just that, the more e-mail addresses you collect from the Internet the more they are worth to someone. And if you can group your stolen addresses together demographically they are worth even more. 

  • Sending the spam is another why to make money. The problem with sending spam is that if you use your mail server, your spam is easily tracked back to you and your ISP will shut you down. This is why sending spam is such an art. The trick is to send spam through either an overseas mail server that is out of the U.S. laws, or to use the Open Relay method. Open Relay is a technique of sending spam using other peoples mail servers by an open relay port on the mail server. Most names on a spam-blocking list are from innocent mail servers that are unaware that their mail servers are being used to send spam.  

  • Affiliates programs are the largest cause for spam. An affiliate advertising firm is partnered with big name manufactures to help sell their product on the net. If you’ve seen an ad or popup on the Internet, than you’ve probably seen an affiliate program. How it works is like this: You place a banner on your website and when someone clicks on it, the banner passes an embedded site identifier and the person hosting the banner receives a portion of the sale. Some of the advertising on my website is through an affiliate program. A lot of people have taken this to another level and use spam to send their embedded link to the masses. Whether anyone actually clicks on these spam links I do not know. Most people delete spam without ever reading it. 

     I know I sound like a sympathetic voice for spammers; I am not. But I do feel that there should be a little perspective. I hate spam, telemarketers, junk mail and any other form of unsolicited attempt to sell me goods and services. Unless the job situation becomes better in this country, expect a lot more spam than you are currently seeing. 


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