What Happens To The Spammer?

Sometimes it’s difficult to understand why spamming is considered one of the most vile sins on the internet. After all, what harm does an extra email or two cause? And even if the spammer is reported or caught, who cares? I mean, what happens to a spammer anyway?

We’ve all heard people say, “well, why not just hit the delete key?” I used to take the time to try and explain the problem to these people, but I’ve since realized that there is a brand of ignorance which cannot be penetrated by reason or logic. Now I just nod and smile, and change the subject.

Spam would not be so bad if it was just one or two emails now and then. Unfortunately, it’s not just one person sending an unsolicited advertisement once a month – it’s hundreds or even thousands. Email Newsletter: Do I Need An Autoresponder System. And the emails are virtually always regarding some scam, a useless product or, very often, some pornographic or money making scheme. I’ve received tens of thousands of spam emails over the years, and not once has any of them ever been of value.

I don’t understand why spammers don’t get the message that their emails are unwanted. Why do they keep sending out their useless advertisements? Do people actually purchase anything from them? Do these people really make money?

Okay, so what happens to spammers anyway?

Your amateur spammer must feel very much like a criminal does. You see, they must hide their identities in any number of devious ways to prevent their ISP and web hosts from shutting them down. How to Save Up to 90% on Title Insurance. New laws are being passed which make these people into real criminals, making it even more important that they remain hidden.

  1. When an ISP or web host begins receiving dozens of spam reports on someone using their services, they will typically cancel first and ask questions later. Thus, your average spammer is constantly losing his hosting services and always searching for another ISP. He has to – he keeps getting kicked out when his misdeeds is discovered.
  2. Spammers, if they can be identified, can be sued. This is fairly rare, as it is difficult to prove actual damage, but you can sue them and win. And if you are an ISP or host, you can definitely get them to dig into their pockets for the resources they wasted.
  3. If a spammer annoys the wrong person, he could find himself harassed. For example, people have been known to send back email bombs, perform denial of service attacks or simply get phone lines canceled.
  4. If a spammer gets his domain added to any of the various “black holes”, then he may find that he cannot send email at all.
  5. Depending upon how vile the material, the law can come down upon a spammer. This is especially true with scams and pornography of the most degraded kind.
  6. Most spammers do not realize there is always a way to find out where the email came from. It does not matter how well they attempt to cover their tracks – they do need to make it possible to order something and thus they can be tracked – even if it means physically visiting their business with a search warrant.

I hope that helps clarify what happens to the spammer in the short or long run. Spam does cause damage, and spammers, especially the largest and worst offenders, should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

What is Spam Anyway?

I’ve found when people discuss spam they really have no idea what they are talking about. There are as many different definitions of spam as there are people. In point of fact, this factor alone (not being able to define what spam is and what it consists of) makes it virtually impossible to control.

In order to control spam, a useful definition is necessary. Why? Simple. In order to control something, you must know what you are controlling. When you understand the basic facts, then you can take whatever course of action is necessary. Until you achieve that understanding, you will be shooting blindly at an undefined target. This makes it very difficult to actually do anything useful.

So on that note, what kind of definitions for spam work and don’t work?

Commonly spam is defined as unsolicited email. Unfortunately, this definition by itself is NOT spam and means absolutely nothing. What’s wrong with it? This definition does not help you solve the problem, and thus is incorrect. If this definition was true, then to prevent spam you would have to somehow contact a person to ask them if you could send them an email.

For example, I don’t generally call someone on the phone and ask them for an email message. That would be silly. In fact, by definition most email is unsolicited; I don’t, for example, expect my wife or a friend to ask me if it’s okay to send me a message.

Sometimes spam is defined as emails that are from unknown sources. Hmm. This really doesn’t work well either. I’ll get emails from my website from people I don’t know – these are not spam. Also, sometimes my friends will pass my email address to their friends, who send me email. These are also not spam, even though they were from an unknown source and were unsolicited.

How about just plain annoying emails? That seems to be the definition that most people have in mind when they mention spam. If the email is annoying in some manner, and especially if it was unsolicited, it is spam. This definition probably gets a little closer to the heart of the matter, but it really doesn’t define spam well.

What about unsolicited bulk email? This definition gets a little bit closer but it still doesn’t really define spam well. I mean I give my email address to my bank and I really didn’t ask them to send me emails (although I didn’t ask them not to as well). Yet I would not call this spam as I do business with the bank. Their emails might be annoying, but since I have a business relationship with the bank I expect them to communicate with me occasionally.

Okay, so what is spam?

I like to think of spam as “unethical mass email”. By this I mean emails which violate the netiquette standards of the majority of users of the internet.

Note that by this definition, an individual email sent to a person is not spam. A commercial email, however, is another matter. Even a single commercial email might be unethical if it does not follow the rules below.

Ethical emails are targeted well towards their audience. Unethical emails are mass mailings sent out blindly to a large number of people.

These are emails that are sent to thousands, tens of thousands, even millions of people, hoping against hope that a few dozen will be stupid or greedy enough to respond. These emails are untargeted and will not pertain to the majority of the recipients. Since the majority of the people reading the message (usually upwards of 99%) will simply delete it immediately, this makes the mailing unethical.

Ethical email messages include valid email header information. This information properly identifies the sender of the message. In addition, all of the other header data in the message is correct.

Spam messages often have forged or invalid email headers. This means it is difficult (if not virtually impossible) to trace the source of the email based upon the header information within the email message. Since the sender of the message cannot be identified the message is unethical. In this case, even a single email message would count as spam.

Ethical mailings include a method for opting out which actually works.

If you run a newsletter or do any kind of mass mailing, you must include at least one method of removal in the email message itself. This removal method (and more than one is preferable) MUST WORK. Some things which I often see in opt-out schemes which ARE NOT VALID include the following:

– Any email message which states that the reader must go to a web site, log in and then modify his email preferences is UNETHICAL. This requires too much information from the user and forces him to do too much work.

– If the email message includes an unsubscribe link (or other means) which does not work, then it is UNETHICAL.

– Messages which validly allow for opt-out but then say “you will be removed in a week” or some other long period of time are UNETHICAL. These are computers people, and there is no reason to include these long delays. Remove the person immediately. /all-about-auctions-and-its-types.

Ethical mass mailings are double-opt-in. This means after a person signs up for the mailing list, he receives a confirmation message. He must either reply to this message or click a link to activate the mailings to him. Any other form of opt-in is UNETHICAL as it allows people to be subscribed by others or by accident.

Ethical mailings do not include webbugs, set cookies or perform any kind of involuntary tracking.

Email messages are often opened up by the recipient before he knows anything about the message. This means if you are doing any kind of tracking, the person has no way to stop it, short of blocking the receipt of the message entirely. This lack of a choice on the part of the recipient makes this kind of tracking UNETHICAL. The only time this would be ethical is if it was clearly stated when the user signed up for the mailing. In that instance, this behavior is known and this makes it ethical. Note that while the web site privacy policy should state this fact, it must also be stated clearly on the page where the person actually signs up for the mailing. A Down and Dirty Guide to Search Engine Positioning.

Ethical mailers do not use email harvesters. Using special robots to gather email addresses from web sites is UNETHICAL. These email addresses are generally included on web sites to allow individuals to communicate with individuals. Rarely is the intention to join a mass mailing list distributed on CD. ALL USES OF EMAIL HARVESTING IS UNETHICAL.

Ethical mailers do not take advantage of open relays or use other “spammer tricks”. If you are legitimate, then there is no need to attempt to hide your whereabouts or cover your tracks. Using a relay without permission or sending millions of emails through an unprotected formmail script is simply bad manners.

Get the idea? Spamming is NOT sending someone one or more email messages without their express permission. Spamming is simply ignoring the rights of others (your audience, system administrators and even the users of the internet as a whole). That’s all it is.

Spam Control – The Internet Without It.

Every single day 30,000,000 emails are sent around the world. 50% of those emails are spam. Blue chip companies and even Governments are taking drastic measures in spam control. The most recent evidence of this is the Canspam Act which was passed by the US Senate early in 2004.

If you look at what most people used the Internet for you’ll find the vast majority of online activity is sending and receiving email. Email has become the lifeblood of modern society. An interesting social experiment would be to see what happens to a group of young professional people who suddenly have all means of electronic communication taken away from them. Email has become as much a part of our lives as the electriclightbulb, air transport and mobile phones. How To Improve CTR Of Your Google Adwords.

What happens if we don’t implement spam control globally? What would happen if all the mail server spam filters and regulations controlling spam were suddenly abolishesd? Chaos online! The online world would grind to a screeching halt as email servers become overloaded with the flood of spam. Global bandwidth would be consumed by as each spammer sends out hundreds of millions of junk emails per day.

Without spam control businesses would be crippled. Critical emails would be lost amongst a deluge of porn, viagra and breast enlargement type emails.

Without spam control home use of email and the Internet in general would suffer from massive delays in sending and receiving of email, a 100x increase in the amount of spam email received. Internet connection speeds would be adversely affected with ISPs struggling to keep their servers online while their bandwidth is being choked by spam.

IT analysts estimate that by 2006 the average internet user can expect to receive at least 1,500 pieces of spam per month. This is a conversative estimate. Agressive action is needed to stem the flood of spam. ISPs supporting spam must have their assests seized. Spammers must be prosecuted and their equipment confiscated. If we do not actively work to control spam then we only have ourselves to blame. Bayesian Spam Filters Uncovered.

The Internet is a shared resource used by us all. Spam control must increase and improve in efficiency and effectiveness for us to retain control of our virtual lives.

The 4 Ws of Junk E-mail.

Junk e-mail or spam has become the scourge of the modern computer world. It eats bandwidth. Spam is like a disease. It doesn’t care about age, religion, wealth. It doesn’t discriminate. Junk e-mail affects us all.

There are 4 keys to the junk mail question – Who, What, Where and Why.

Who they are

The typical profile of a junk mail sender is as follows. Male, 18 – 30 years of age, single, technically competent and with little regard for their status as a public nuisance. There are female junk mailers out there but, unfortunately, this is predominantly a male preserve.

What they use to send spam

There are many tools available to the spam merchant. The main ones are e-mail extractors, newsgroup harvesters and CD lists.

E-mail extractors are programs which wander around the Internet gathering e-mail addresses from websites and often from web based forums (unprotected forums). A “good” e-mail extractor can gather 15,000 e-mail addresses per hour.

Newsgroup harvesters are programs which search through newsgroups for valid e-mail addresses. Most newsgroups users are aware of this and take measures to counteract these harvesting programs. Despite these measures a newsgroup harvester application can gather 20,000 – 30,000 e-mail addresses in an hour. Do You Make These Search Engine Positioning Mistakes?

CD lists are one of the worst sources. 90 million e-mail addresses available on a single CD for as little as $20. A lot of the addresses on these CDs would be junk (many would no longer exist) but an equally large number of these addresses would be valid. A CD like this is a junk mailers dream.

Where they do it from

Those involved in sending out bulk e-mail are “entrepreneurs” or at least they think so. The vast majority of those involved in the spam business are self-employed and work from home. Sending spam is almost the ideal home based business. You name your hours and the business itself is almost automatic. Maximum gain from minimum effort. /tips-successful-negotiating

Why they do it in the first place

Their motivation is money. Considerable amounts of cash actually. Each spammer who sends out 1,000,000 junk e-mails is certain of approximately 100 sales. Many of the products they sell are worth $50 – $100 dollars to them in commission. Yes. Shocking isn’t it? The average bulk mailer earns in excess of $100,000 per year! Maximum return for minimum effort. Unless of course you get caught and get jail time.

The Cybermagic of Whitelists.

Before we start getting deep into the meat of this article it’s important to explain some standard terminology to make sure the rest of this article makes sense. 8 Ways To Defend Yourself From False Spam Complaints.

*An IP address is a number which identifies your location on the Internet.

*A blacklist is a list of IP addresses which your antispam software uses to block incoming spam.

*A whitelist is the exact opposite of a blacklist.

A whitelist is a predefined list of IP addresses that are allowed to send email to and receive email from each other. Blacklists exclude known and suspected spammers. Whitelists can be used to exclude everyone except known IP addresses.

Think of it like this. A whitelist is a like having a phonebook which is owned by a small group of people who only wish to speak directly to each other. They don’t want just anybody ringing them. Not only that but the entire group need to approve new phone numbers before they appear in this exclusive phonebook. Do You Make These Search Engine Positioning Mistakes?

To send email to a whitelist you must be approved by the owner of the whitelist. This is a lot like the double optin systems used by legimiate ezines and mailing list owners. Whitelists are the nightclub bouncers of the virtual world – if you ain’t on the list you ain’t getting in. Simple but very effective.

A real world example of a whitelist would be if two companies wanted to exchange email only with each other. These companies could implement a whitelist that contained the IP address for just the two email servers that want to send email to each other. That would mean that any email coming from an IP address not on the whitelist would be returned to sender. For companies they can ensure that employees are only dealing with work related email and not chatting with their friends.

The benefits of whitelists are many but proper management of the whitelists is equally important. Misuse of whitelists will only lead to more headaches for everyone involved with missing email, irate customers and IT departments doing overtime just being the tip of the iceberg.

Bayesian Spam Filters Uncovered

In a word Bayesian spam filters are “intelligent”. Bayesian spam filters are intelligent in so far as they’re capable of comparing two sets of information and acting on the result. This is in direct contrast to the vast majority of other spam filters who use pre-built rules to decide which e-mail is spam and which is not.

Bayesian spam filters can take one group of legitimate e-mail and another group of spam and compare the values and data of each. The definition of legitimate e-mail that it creates at the end of this comparison session is what it uses going forward to scan your inbox for spam. My 3 Must Use Secrets for Big Fat Subscriber Lists.

FYI Bayesian spam filters are named after Thomas Bayes an 18 century cleric who created something known as Bayes Theorem. In summary Bayes Theorem is as follows: ..”in statistical inference to update estimates of the probability that different hypotheses are true, based on observations and a knowledge of how likely those observations are, given each hypothesis.” In plain English it looks for obvious repeating patterns to form an “opinion” on something. In spam filter terms that “opinion” becomes a rule which keeps you spam free (or pretty close 🙂

The really neat thing about Bayesian filters is that they’re capable of learning. For example if they decided to block an e-mail because the filter perceived it as junk but the user marked it as valid mail the Bayesian filter then knows not to block that type of e-mail in the future. So, in time, this type of spam filter learns enough to block spam far more effectively. AOL have embraced this type of spam filter with the launch of AOL 9.0 and AOL Communicator- if the big dog wants it then it must be worthwhile?

So what Bayesian spam filtering options are available to you? Well quite a few to be honest and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by some of the names involved 🙂 The first one on the list is AOL with their AOL Communicator product. The spam filtering features in AOL Communicator and AOL 9 are, to be honest, impressive. Think what you will of the provider themselves AOL Communicator is an excellent product and is suitable for use by both PC and Mac OSX users.

Next up we have Eudora. The nice folks at Qualcomm have designed an excellent e-mail client that also has built in Bayesian spam filtering. I’ve used Eudora in the past and it’s a neat little package. Again the benefits here are advanced integrated spam filtering with your e-mail automatically. Mac OSX and OS9 users are in luck with Eudora providing support for both.

If you’d like to know more about spam filters or just spam in general please do drop by http://www.spam-site.com for more information.

Anti-Spam Two Step for Webmasters.

If your email address is on a website that’s been online for a while you’re being blasted with unsolicited email (SPAM).You can delete it or you can eliminate much of it in two simple steps.

Step 1: Scramble Your Email Address

It isn’t human visitors to your site that are causing the problem. It’s website spidering SPAMBOTS. These spambots go out on the web and harvest any email address they can find. These harvested email addresses are then sold by unscrupulous *spam pushers*.

Your goal is to hide your email address from the spambots, but still display it for your website visitors to see.If the spambot doesn’t recogize your scrambled code as an email address it won’t harvest it.

Search the web for scripts that will scramble your email address. You will find many free scripts and some that you can purchase. Some are simple and easy to install. Others can be a little more complicated.

The one that I like is called EScrambler. It is a free script developed by InnerPeace.org. You can visit their site and copy the source code (permission given on the site). Or, go to http://www.webdesignwisdom.com/escrambler.shtml.

This simple script generates a javascript that scrambles your email address. Just copy the script and paste it in your HTML instead of the normal mailto:me@mydomain.com. Your email address is displayed properly for visitors to see, and the HTML looks like anything but an email address.

An example of *me@mydomain.com* in escrambled form:

Step 2: Send Spam to Your Auto-Delete Account

Now, just because you’ve scrambled your email address, that doesn’t keep all spammers from sending email to you. Some will just use something like *anything*@yourdomain.com because they understand that most websites have email forwarding.Anything that is emailed to your domain will be forwarded to an email address you specified. 8 Ways To Defend Yourself From False Spam Complaints.

You never have to see this email if you forward it to another email address that automatically deletes it.

You will need a free email account that offers some simple anti-spam features to use as your *dump account*.

You must be able to designate email addresses from which you will not accept any email. You may already have an account that can handle it. If not, look into Mail.com or Lycos.com. Improve Your Link Popularity with Endorsements!

Then make your free email dump account the default forwarding address in your website’s email handler. Go to your free email account and set it to reject all mail received from YOUR domain.

Then have email that is sent to your published email addresses (those you have scrambled on your site) forwarded to your normal forwarding address. Or, set them up as individual POP accounts if your hosting service offers this feature. Do You Make These Search Engine Positioning Mistakes?

Now you will receive email from your website visitors whoactually read your email address on your website and all other email will be deleted.

This is a very effective way to get rid of most spam that is generated from your domain. It won’t eliminate all of it. The volume of spam that I was receiving decreased by 90-95% after I made these changes.

This tactic will work for sites that have been online with an unprotected email address too. Change the email address on your site to a different scrambled address. Forward all email that is sent to your old posted address to your dump account.

If you’ve been using your primary email address on your site, you’ll need to notify everyone that your email address has changed. This makes it more difficult, but worth the effort if you’re being slammed with spam.

8 Ways To Defend Yourself From False Spam Complaints.

No matter how careful you are, you are always open to false spam complaints.

You can get upset or you can take more proactive measures to prepare yourself. 3 Proven Ways to Make Your Newsletter Make You Money Today.

Don’t rely on the fact that you are innocent.

Your innocence or guilt usually has no bearing on the outcome.

It’s no comfort knowing you are innocent, if your site is shut down or you lose your mailing list. How to Close More Online Sales Through the Magic of Questions?

There are some simple steps you can take to protect your business.

1. Find out your ISP’s spam policy.

Some providers will close your account on the first complaint proven or unproven. If this is your providers policy, look for one that will take the time to investigate.

It’s too late once your account has been closed.

2. Use a marketer friendly list service to host your opt in list.

Fellow marketers usually know how rampant false complaints are and won’t shut down your list without hearing your side of the issue.

3. Back up your list daily.

It takes time and effort to build a solid list. Don’t let it disappear overnight.

4. Make sure your web sites are hosted by services that will let you explain your side of the story, before they shut you down.

Marketers have lost sites getting 1,000 or more visitors a day, because their host reacted without warning. 8 Easy Steps To Creating A Money-On-Demand Machine.

5. Set up email accounts and links to be used in the resource boxes of your articles.

Some spam software will go after every link in a newsletter. It’s better to lose a throwaway account than have your main accounts shut down.

6. Set up email accounts and web pages to use in ezine ads.

7. Keep back up copies of your follow up auto responder messages.

8. Never send email to someone you don’t know.

Avoid those cd’s offering thousands of safe addresses. They aren’t safe.

You can take these simple steps and protect you business, or you can protest your innocence while your scrambling to salvage your business.

Don’t be a victim. Take the bull by the horns and protect your business.

No one will do it for you.