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Putting spammers in the can

After returning to the office for a few hours, I spent the usual wasted minutes deleting scores of spam emails from my inbox. I expect the same goes for most of this blog’s readers. Anyway, in a continuation of my festive spirit and seasonal good cheer, here is a link to a rather amusing collection of ideas for knocking off the spammers, courtesy of those ubergeeks at Wired Magazine.

In conversation with Perry de Havilland of this parish some while back, he likened spammers to horse thieves. Horse stealers were dealt with harshly for threatening the very economic viability of the regions in which they acted, since horses were vital to life prior to modern locomotion. The Internet is just as vital now, so the argument runs.

Hang the spammers? Well, I am sure quite a few of us have thought on these lines. The Wired article has less draconian solutions. Enjoy.

8 comments to Putting spammers in the can

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    I’m not getting a link to anything, for whatever reason.

    Probably it’s my use of the Opera browser

  • Hi old friend. I’ve not read the Wired article yet, but nowadays, whenever I encounter a friend who’s still having problems with email spam, I recommend Bayesian filtering tools. For myself, I use SpamSieve as a plugin for my Eudora mail agent. The plugin worked great “out of the box”, and with an additional bit of training, the software works almost flawlessly, with rare false positives and almost zero false negatives.

  • I have been using a “bayesian” filter (they really aren’t Bayesian, btw) for some time now. The spammers are adapting, sending message where most of the words are things you want or expect in ordinary non-spam, with a little spam in the middle.

    I predict that spammers will defeat the statistical filters.

  • It’s not Opera at fault; the link [which may not even be a properly constructed link] just plain doesn’t work in anything, as there is no underlying URL .

  • Ernie G

    Is this what you had in mind?

    (See items 26-33.)

  • The posted link is actually http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.01/internet.html?tw=wn_tophead_5

    There is a problem in the html. What should be spelt “target” is actually spelt “trget”, and “href” is spelt “hef”. Funnily enough, this makes browsers rather unhappy.

  • Julian Morrison

    Spammers won’t beat statistical filters, because a high prevalence of “normal” words in both spam and ham sets those words as neutral – so the few spammy words tip the balance. You can’t sell mortgages without saying “mortgate”, refinance”, “loan”, etc.

    Filters are good, but I also favor the wild west “tall tree short rope” approach. Because detection is hard and damage is great, dissuasion has to be harsh. Hanging sounds about right.

  • Nick Timms

    I too receive several hundred spams each day and have recently downloaded a free program called secretmaker. I have no financial reason for mentioning it but it seems to work very well and is constantly updated by its creators. Saves me a lot of time.

    Of course if NOBODY responded to a spam message at all the spammers would give up and piss off and find something else to annoy us with. As I keep saying to my friend who buys The Sun. If nobody bought it Murdoch would give it up.