2003 - What Did We Learn?
(a quick test!)
Recently I have received several newsletters recapping the previous years events and ranging in topics from search engines, to spam, to evaluating roi and website traffic. I started thinking about my own newsletters over the last year and wondering if they had helped in educating readers about the web -- so hear are a couple of questions and answers - let me know how you do...
You receive an email saying you will be given $25 by Big Company Z for every person you pass the email on to....should you
a) pass the email on to as many people as you know?
b) check to see if the sender is someone you know and trust before sending it on?
c) check a reputable source to see if the email has been identified as a HOAX?
The Answer is C - Check a reputable source! Here are some good resources:
About.com provides an ongoing list of the Top 25 Urban Legends - as of 12/28/03 the list and links are:
- Target Stores vs. Vietnam Veterans
- World's Tallest Woman
- 'Twas the Spoof Before Christmas
- The Ghost of the Sundarbans
- Nostradamus Predicted 9/11 Terror Attacks
- Abercrombie & Fitch Catalog Sells 'Group Sex' to Teens
- The Giant Grizzly Bear
- Amazing Photo of Montana Fires (2000)
- The Queen, the President and the Flatulent Horse
- Weird News Headlines
- Altoids and Oral Sex
- Jelly Bracelets - An Invitation to Sex?
- Tommy Hilfiger Is a Racist
- Penny Brown Is Missing
- Solicitation of Holiday Mail for U.S. Troops
- The Eye of God (Hubble Space Telescope Photo)
- Bill Gates Is Sharing His Fortune!
- Shark Attacks Helicopter!
- Doctors Find Live Worm in Patient's Eye
- Mr. Rogers Was a Marine Sniper/Navy Seal
- Blackout 2003 Satellite Photo
- Doomsday on a $20 Bill
- Are Terrorists Buying UPS Uniforms on eBay?
- Ghost Video
- Did Jennifer Lopez Insure Her Butt?
- Credit Card Fraud Warning
HOAXBUSTERS provides an archive with hoaxes broken down into categories
Sympathy Letters - Requests to Help
Chains - Threats, Scams and Scares
SOPHOS provides a list of the top 10 most recent hoaxes as well as a listing of Chain Letters, False Alarms, Scams, Scares, Misunderstandings and Virus Hoaxes.
You receive an email from email@example.com offering you a hair gel guaranteed to grow hair on a bald head in 24 hours for just $19.99 - should you
a) make the online purchase - it's only $19.99 and you are bald and need it
b) hit reply and send a nasty email back to firstname.lastname@example.org as you are not bald, do not know anyone who is bald and did not subscribe to receive his email.
c) None of the above.
The Answer is C - None of the Above! We now know that almost all spam email identifies a false send address (called spoofing).
Here is a post at SpamCop from a victim of email spoofing that provides some information and suggestions -
"Spammers and/or their software often use names selected at random from
their list to use in the From: field, or spammers will just make up a
user name at a valid domain to make the return address look legitimate.
They don't want the bounces or angry complaints coming to them.
Sometimes spammers with a 'bone to pick' will wage an extended campaign..." read more
An article in Wired News - Don't Believe From Line provides more information.
Our June 2002 Newsleter provided a Q & A section on how to check the hidden email headers and possibly discover who an email is really FROM with graphics and step by step instructions as well as additional links at SPAMCOP and stopspam.org on this subject.
If you decide to take this route and do identify the IP address of the sender you can then check the IP address at dnsstuff.com - use the center BLUE column, the box titled IPWHOIS Lookup and type in the IP address - you will see who it belongs to along with a list of email address contacts to send your complaint -- make sure you include the email you received and a copy of the hidden header when you file your complaint.
An article titled "Due Diligence" from SiteProNews offers some insight and advice on the subject. It says "Con artists have been around since the beginning of time, and are always willing to take advantage of another "hot prospect". But every scam has "red flags" and a little common sense should prevail so you do not fall prey to them. Let's examine a few we get by email everyday. . ."
An article in MediaPost December 15, 2003 announced - "For those of us who don't believe that criminal charges against spammers can stick, here's something to ponder from Virginia...
Last week, a Loudoun County, Va., grand jury indicted two North Carolina men on four felony charges of using fraudulent means to send illegal and unsolicited bulk email. The two were charged under Virginia's anti-spam law, which took effect July 1. It's believed to be the nation's first anti-spam arrests.
"Fraudulent means" include changing the header or routing information to prevent the receivers from contacting or knowing who sent them the spam, said Virginia Attorney Gen. Jerry Kilgore." ...I'll keep you posted on this one!
And finally, an article in Wired News, January 6, 2004 Spammers Top Microsoft Hit List states "Spammers beware -- Microsoft intends to make you very unhappy in 2004. Not content with merely adding new spam-filtering capabilities to its e-mail software, in the coming year Microsoft also intends to track down and take legal action against spammers, no matter where in the world the junk mailers are located....Stirling McBride, a senior investigator at Microsoft who is in charge of tracking down alleged spammers discovered by Microsoft's antispam team, spent six years as a U.S. Marshal and four years with the U.S. Border Patrol."
The Rokso List from SPAMHAUS provides a list of 200 Known Spam Operations responsible for 90% of your spam.
Clearing your Cache - What is cache? Plus, step by step instructions and screen shots for CLEARING your cache.