Hate spam? Want to do something about it?
Here are a few pointers
What kind of Spam do you hate?First of all, you need to decide what kind of Spam you hate. The following are not all strictly 'Spam', but I don't want to get into a terminology debate here. If you hate all of the following, then just carry on reading, else hit the relevant link to go to specifics:
|Hormel Spam||Pink gooey meat product|
|Email Spam||Unsolicited Bulk Email, delivered direct to your mailbox|
|Usenet Spam||The same thing, posted lots and lots of times|
|IRC Spam||Spam to your screen while you chat|
- Make up some spam quotes
- Enjoy somespam haiku
- Don't buy Spam
- Feed Spam to your kid sister
- Smear Spam over your garden gate to deter burglars
- Make someone use Spam in a suggestive manner as a truth or dare forfeit
- Try Treet, the healthy Spam alternative
- Spread malicious rumours about the contents of Spam
- Find out all about Spam so you can hate it even more
- Photocopy a can of Spam and pin it to your dartboard
- Use Spam as a handly lubricant
- Throw sweaty Spam at email spammers
So you're mailbox is getting spammed? You're fed up? You want to fight back? Spammers are nasty, and must be handled with care. However they are also quite stupid, so you don't have to be that careful.
First of all, some Do Nots:
- Do not reply to the spammer, unless you are deliberately out looking for a direct confrontation with a spammer. The least that will happen is that you will confirm your address as 'live' to the spammer, so he will spam you again. The worst that could happen would be mailbombs and DOS attacks directed at you and your ISP.
- Do not use illegal or immoral methods to fight spammers. Spammers will often attack people who try to stop them spamming, using quite despicable methods. We don't have to stoop to that level.
- If you don't want to get any spam, never post your real email address to Usenet, bulletin boards, or websites (unless you trust the website owners).
- Do not spam. At some point, if you are a net marketer, you may be tempted to email a 'few' people, because you are so desperate to spread the news about your fab product. This is spam. Don't do it. It's bad.
- Do not start throwing complaints around until you are sure you have established the source of the spam to the best of your ability.
So what can I do about Spam?If you want to try to deal with the Spam problem, there are several things you can do:
- Post your spam to news.admin.net-abuse.sightings where it can be held as a record of the spam, and used for future reference.
- Read news.admin.net-abuse.email to see if anyone else has had the same Spam, and has already found the source.
- Look at the body of the Spam for any websites advertised. Losing a website is much more painful to a spammer than losing his email address. Sometimes it is obvious where a website is hosted, and who to complain to. However, if you are going to go investigating the advertised site, be aware that many spammers are advertising adult content websites.
- Analyze the headers of the spam to determine the source (see below).
- Once you know the source of the spam, and the ISPs hosting any of the
spamvertised websites. Complain to the abuse departments of those ISPs.
Some things you can include in your complaint:
- The original spam, with all headers
- A note pointing out any specifics, such as websites
- A reference to the ISPs Terms of Service, or Acceptable Use Policy, pointing out which clause has been breached.
- Any history you know about the spammer
- You might also like to get familiar with some anti-spam legislation around the world, and write to the relevant authorities. For example the Data Protection Register people in the UK recently investigated a persistent spammer, but did not prosecute. The spammer hasn't been heard from since though, here's hoping!
- Spamfighting web resources:
- Leah's Spam Resources Page - a much larger list of anti-spam links, including:
- Steve's Spam tools including:
- Spamhunter's Resource
- Anti-spam organisations:
- Legislative bodies:
Here are some useful links for dealing with Usenet spam:
- Monosyllabic spam complaint
- The Spam King
- The Cancelmoose
- All about chain letters
More about Usenet spam in future updates.
Decent chat clients such as mIRC allow you to set up filters to stop the messages getting to you, however it is difficult to trap everything. You can complain to the server administrators about IRC spam, but the chances of getting a result are slim.
Many IRC spammers use a 'bot' to spam, which switches their nickname every couple of seconds. This makes it difficult to trace the spammer. However, most IRC spammers are advertising websites, so you can go after the website directly. You might have to visit the website during your investigation, so be prepared to view some material that you may find distasteful.
The first thing to do is plug the spammed URI into Sam Spade Online, to find out who the domain belongs to. If the domain is not owned by the spammer (e.g. www.xoom.com/imaspammer), you can contact the abuse department for the domain (in this case, email@example.com). If the domain is owned by the spammer, then they probably won't have an abuse department, so you need to find the administrative contact for the domain's upstream provider (Sam Spade will tell you this, either in the Administrative section of the WHOIS output, or by doing a traceroute).
While ISPs use dynamically assigned IP addresses, IRC spamming should be taken seriously. A common problem is that IRC networks will ban an entire IP block, because there is no other way to ban the spammer from their network. This means that innocent users are denied access to the IRC service because of a net abuser.
Remember, if you can complain to the spammer's ISP, it is better than complaining to the victimised IRC network maintainers.