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May 31, 2005

Cell Phone Firms Adopt Spam Rules

Report: New guidelines cover unsolicited spam, opt-out requirements, ads and promotional programs.

In a recent story in CNN Money, the nation's leading cell phone service providers have adopted the first set of guidelines for mobile marketing, according to a report by AdAge.com.

The "Consumer Best Practices Guidelines for Cross-Carrier Mobile Content Services" covers unsolicited messages, opt-out requirements, advertising and promotional programs, the report said.

The guidelines were jointly developed with the Mobile Marketing Association.

"The purpose of the Mobile Marketing Association is to safeguard this new form of spam that is literally in your face," said Gary Ruskin, executive director of Commercial Alert, a Ralph Nader group that monitors advertising.

"All the major carriers were the driving force behind the guidelines," said Mark Desautels, vice president of wireless Internet development for CTIA, the wireless association, formerly known as the Cellular Technology and Internet Association.

Desautels said customer service concerns led carriers such as Cingular Wireless, Nextel (Research), Sprint (Research), T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless (Research) to abide by the guidelines to avoid situations where "people are running up $500 for services they didn't realize they subscribed to."

According to the report, text messaging and other cell phone services beyond making voice calls are starting to generate major revenues for carriers, between 5 and 10 percent, Desautels said.

Full story at CNN Money.

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May 31, 2005 in Anti Spam | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

South Florida: Spam Capital Of World

In a recent article at Local10.com, there are more spammers in the South Florida tri-county than anywhere else on earth. And so, South Florida has earned a new title as “Spam Capital of the World.”

According to the watchdog group Spamhaus, more than a quarter of about 180 hardcore spammers are based in Florida, and most of them are in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.

The tri-county area is home to more spammers than any country, according to the watch dog group. And it's not just the annoying pitches for mortgages and sex pills. Increasingly, law enforcement officials are finding that junk e-mail is a favored weapon of predators and an easy way for criminals to target a world of potential victims from behind a wall of anonymity.

The city with the most spammers in the world is Boca Raton. Eleven are listed by Spamhaus as based there, though anti-spam groups say they think that figure misses dozens who send spam at least part-time.

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May 31, 2005 in Anti Spam | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New Technical Report from Stanford Discusses Link Spam

The Stanford InfoLab has just posted a new 22 page technical report titled, "Link Spam Alliances." It might be of interest to some of you.

From the abstract:

Link spam is used to increase the ranking of certain target web pages by misleading the connectivity-based ranking algorithms in search engines. In this paper we study how web pages can be interconnected in a spam farm in order to optimize rankings. We also study alliances, that is, interconnections of spam farms. Our results identify the optimal structures and quantify the potential gains. In particular, we show that alliances can be synergistic and improve the rankings of all participants. We believe that the insights we gain will be useful in identifying and combating link spam.

The paper includes a focus on how, "link spammers manipulate PageRank scores."

Full Text: Link Spam Alliances (PDF).

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May 31, 2005 in Anti Spam | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

E-mail Users Getting More Spam But Less Annoying, Study Says

According to a new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, e-mail users are showing a slight increase in spam. Yet, ironically, they are more tolerant of the unsolicited messages than they were a year ago. How can this be so?

In personal e-mail accounts, which typically get more spam than work accounts, 28% of users say they were getting more spam, 22% say they were getting less spam, and 47% say they’ve seen no change in volume, the survey found. In work accounts, 21% say they were getting more spam, 16% say they were getting less spam, and 53% reported no change.

At the same time, 53% say they are less trusting of e-mail because of spam, down from 62% a year ago; 22% say spam has reduced their overall use of e-mail, compared to 29% a year ago; and 67% say being online is unpleasant because of spam, down from 77% a year earlier.

Despite the declines, the report showed that spam is still the primary issue for 52% of users.

E-mail users also reported a significant decline in pornographic spam, with 63% reporting receiving porn spam, compared with 71% last year.

35% of e-mail users report receiving unsolicited e-mails requesting personal financial information, so-called phishing, with 2% saying they provided information.

Pew based its findings on a nationwide phone survey of 1,421 Internet users between Jan. 13 and Feb. 9.

Full story at Internet Retailer.

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May 31, 2005 in Anti Spam | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Spam Hurting Developing Countries Most, Says OECD

According to a new report [pdf] by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), while spam may be a problem on a global scale, it is hurting Internet users in developing countries more so than in industrialized nations.

Numerous underdeveloped countries, especially in Africa and Asia, lack the knowledge, technology and money to effectively combat the growing flow of junk e-mail over their domestic communication networks. As a result, users in these regions suffer from more outages and less reliable service, and are often distrustful of the Internet -- all factors that threaten to widen the global digital divide.

Full story at TechWorld.

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May 31, 2005 in Anti Spam | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 23, 2005

Simple Step Keeps Hard Drive From Filling Up With Spam

James Coates of the Chicago Tribune answers a reader’s mail with some practical steps on how to deal with spam.

Q. Every day I delete spam. Today it was 66, a record. Yesterday Outlook Express wanted to compress the files. Is this stuff filling up my hard drive? How can I get rid of it and stop the incoming without changing my Internet service provider?

Bob [email protected]

A. I wish I could just tap out a paragraph or two and tell the world how to eliminate spam, Mr. S., but that's a question that people far more adept than Mr. Computer Answer Person have failed to solve for years now.

As you note, though, in addition to becoming an obnoxious time sink, spam also clutters up hard drive real estate even if one has anti-spam shields in place and set all the way up to Kill all Klingons.

The junk, as you note, gets saved into the default Deleted Items folder, or in a special folder designated for spam that folks set up using various rules to identify and quarantine unwanted messages.

These folders are needed because there are times when even the best spam filters can attack messages that one really needs.

However, it is possible to permanently remove these deleted messages by the simple process of going to the Deleted Items folder and either delete one by one or tap Control + A to select all messages at once and then Control + X to kill them for good.

It's not a bad idea to do this every time the software pops up with an offer to compress the entire contents of the e-mail in an archive file.

Tags:  anti-spam, antispam, spam

May 23, 2005 in Anti Spam | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Feds Fight the Zombies

Zombie networks have become a high priority for the Fed, who is expected to make an announcement tomorrow that requires more spam filter industry action.

The FTC and more than 30 of its counterparts abroad are planning to contact Internet service providers and urge them to pay more attention to what their customers are doing online. Among the requests: identifying customers with suspicious e-mailing patterns, quarantining those computers and offering help in cleaning the zombie code off the hapless PCs.

Full article at News.com.

Tags:  anti-spam, antispam, spam

May 23, 2005 in Anti Spam | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 19, 2005

The Walking Dead of Spam

Zombies. Viruses infect a computer and then sit dormant until the master sends instructions. Many of these zombied hordes are sold to spammers to use to send their spams. The messages come from IP addresses that haven't been used before to send spam so they aren't on any RBL lists. They send out from all the zombies all at the same time instead of from a small number of servers. This means that the spam window is much shorter.

Securence is able to deal with this first because we usually will already block those messages using our signature system. If we don't have a signature that matches, then we watch our spam traps 24/7 and deploy a fast turnaround time in getting new signatures in place.

-- By Ryan Krueger, Securence Staff

Tags:  anti-spam, antispam, spam

May 19, 2005 in Anti Spam | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

FTC Aims to Tweak CAN-SPAM Act

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is considering making some changes to the CAN-SPAM Act by June 27. They hope to better clarify the steps by which a recipient can opt-out of receiving spam and reduce the time limit for honoring an opt-out request.

The CAN-SPAM Act, also known as the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act, came into effect in January 2004.

According to the article, these include clarifying the definitions of the terms “person” and “sender” – to help in cases where multiple parties are advertising in a single e-mail message – and “valid physical postal addresses”.

It is also proposing to shorten from 10 days to three the time a sender may take before honoring a recipient's opt-out request; and to ensure that when submitting a valid opt-out request, a recipient cannot be required to pay a fee, provide information other than his or her email address and opt-out preferences, or take any steps other than sending a reply email message or visiting a single web page.

Critics have accused the Act of being narrow and weak.

Full article at The Register.

Tags:  anti-spam, antispam, spam

May 19, 2005 in Anti Spam | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 16, 2005

Admins Try Another Weapon Against Spam

Spam is showing no sign of letting up. System administrators are now beginning to turn to one more weapon -- greylisting, a technique which some have found to be remarkably successful. According to the artcile in The Age, greylisting worked for IT Admins beacuse it kept track of how many times a particular combination of IP address, sender and recipient had appeared.

Full article at The Age.

Tags:  anti-spam, antispam, spam

May 16, 2005 in Anti Spam | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack