Feedback: April 2003, Published: May 2003
Once again the spammers have been busy. I have received eight spam e-mails for the month of April. However, three of them were identical. This makes for five seperate instances of spam. Samples are shown below. Brian reports that he has noticed an increase in the amount spam at his site (see below).
In Australia there has been a great fanfare about lesgislation against spamming. We are yet to see any details. I am sure that the result will be ineffectual, beauracratic and a waste of time (not to mention taxpayers' money).
- Work from home -- Just send spam and ask for money!
- Paul Thomas, topsites-us.com again -- give it a rest Paul, you'll go Blind!
- Spam from Peter Kurz (Germany)
- Jane Brooks -- pdhost.com again
User Agent String "Mozilla/4.01 [en](Win95;I)"
Date: Sun, 20 Apr 2003 09:21:35 -0500 From: John Van Essen Hi, That's a very impressive list of user agent strings you have! But this entry in the browser agent strings: Netscape 4.01 Mozilla/4.01 [en](Win95;I) is not a normal Netscape string. Compare it with others. The [en] and Win95; should both be followed by a space. It's from some download-type program or plug-in and I'm trying to figure out what it is before I block it. -- John Van Essen Ed: John, Yes, it does appear to be a process that is associated with a browser. I have only been visited by this process once. That occured last year at 08-Aug-2002:12:17:13 (GMT+1000), I got a visit from 126.96.36.199. He came from Google (searching for humour+download). His agent string claimed to be MSIE 5.5 on Windows ME. Or at least that is how I think this string should be interpreted: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.5; Windows 98; Win 9x 4.90; MWC 188.8.131.52) After hitting my humour page (http://www.pgts.com.au/download/humour/), this new agent started up about thirty seconds after the page had loaded. It then hit http://www.pgts.com.au/download/humour/KISS.txt four times in as many seconds starting at 08-Aug-2002:12:17:53. It then vanished, never to be seen again. Gerry, That's one of the patterns that I see at 3D Gamers (normal browser, fires this other thing up, hits a file 4 times, then quits). It's like a download manager trying to use 4 channels to get a file. Ed: It seems that the CIDR of my visitor is South African in origin (the netblock is owned by M-Web in Capetown). I have no idea what it is. Any suggestions? None yet. Google isn't too helpful on a search for this agent string... At the end of this message, I'm pasting in yesterday's log entries for this agent (it's combined log format but without the referer). So you can see what we get on a regular basis amongst 4-5,000,000 requests per day (only 400-500,000 for pages, though :D). It was the fellow from dhcp024-210-146-066.woh.rr.com that got my attention since he triggered so many 404's and appeared on my "Most hosts with 404's" list for that day. Hence my investigation into this broken POS. :) Ed: John included a list of entries with his email. By the looks of those entries the process exhibited robot-like behaviour. I only had the one visit, and that was seven months ago. So the process might have evolved a little since then. I expect that if he had the referer string he would seen an empty referer for the robot portion of the process. At the PGTS site, the browser entries from the same IP address exhibited normal behaviour. So it's not possible to be certain whether the process was kicked off as a background process within the MSIE browser, or it was operated by human familiar, who released the robot after checking the site. Anyway whatever it was, it did not appear to be very smart. The PGTS site has mainly text info, so downloading with four channels is a rather like using a chainsaw to cut butter. I promoted this agent string to the suspicious agents file at http://www.pgts.com.au/cgi-bin/pgtsj?file=pgtsj0304b. Agents in this list are not necessarily up to no good. However the behaviour is a bit strange, or they try to disguise themselves.
SPAM is certainly increasing
Date: Mon, 21 Apr 2003 13:39:33 +1000 (EST) From: Brian Robson Hi there Gerry, Approximate counts for SPAM rec'd to my personal email address are below. There is no doubt there has been a sudden escalation this year, although it climbed steadily during last two years. Counts are very approximate, to the nearest 20 (10 for 2001). If you do a mental average for each six month block, it's taking off. IMHO, a free "bogofilter" spam filter on every windows PC is the only answer, although Senator Alston thinks leglislation will help. Jan 2001 - 120 Feb 2001 - 70 Mar 2001 - 120 Apr 2001 - 70 May 2001 - 50 Jun 2001 - 50 Jul 2001 - 90 Aug 2001 - 110 Sep 2001 - 120 Oct 2001 - 190 Nov 2001 - 240 Dec 2001 - 280 Jan 2002 - 260 Feb 2002 - 220 Mar 2002 - 260 Apr 2002 - 360 May 2002 - 400 Jun 2002 - 320 Jul 2002 - 300 Aug 2002 - 340 Sep 2002 - 340 Oct 2002 - 400 Nov 2002 - 380 Dec 2002 - 380 Jan 2003 - 380 Feb 2003 - 500 Mar 2003 - 720 Apr 2003 - 570 up to 21/4 May 2003 - Jun 2003 - Cheers, Brian ============================================================== PS: Bloody hell! This very instant some spammer has just sent me an email.. Subject: No More Spam for Brianr! They want me to buy Spam Remedy! Ed: Now that's what I call serious spam ... A spamer who wants to sell you a spam filter! This raises some obvious questions: Will "Spam Remedy" filter spam about "Spam Remedy"? I wonder if the spammer has a sense of irony? Or does he actually believe that this is the way to sell spam filters? I know that we haven't seen the details of the legislation yet. But I have to express my deep and profound scepticism. The previous attempt at legislation to eliminate pornography was ludicrous and ineffective. I would be most surprised if Alston's anti-spam legislation went against current trends of legislation from his office. If it requires provisions for ISPs to block spam, it will be unworkable and largely unenforceable. On the other hand if the focus is on prosecuting spammers in the Australian jurisdiction, I am just as sceptical. If spamming is illegal in Oz, then Aussie spammers can go offshore, so to speak. They don't even have to leave their desk.
SPAM: Work from home -- Just send spam and ask for money!
Do these guys actually make money out of this?
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SPAM: Paul Thomas, topsites-us.com again -- give it a rest Paul, you'll go Blind!
I don't know if anyone is sending these guys money. But if anyone is, I wish they would stop. It's a scam. They are just stealing your money!
From email@example.com Fri Apr 11 13:45:37 2003 Return-Path: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Received: from topsites2 (12-235-89-216.client.attbi.com [18.104.22.168]) by pgts04.xxxx.com.au (8.11.6/8.11.6) with ESMTP id h3B3ixP10410; Fri, 11 Apr 2003 13:45:01 +1000 (EST) (envelope-from email@example.com) Message-Id: <200304110345.h3B3ixP10410@pgts04.xxxx.com.au> Received: from topsites2 (localhost) by topsites2 (LSMTP for Windows NT v1.1b) with SMTP id <0.0030CC79@topsites2>; Thu, 10 Apr 2003 10:19:24 -0700 Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2003 10:19:15 -0700 From: "Paul Thomas" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: PGTS Pty Ltd - Programing to support Oracle, Linux, Unix and Perl. System Administration. Surrey Hills, Victoria. http://www.pgts.com.au/ To: Reply-To: <email@example.com> Organization: topsitez.us MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary="----=_NextPart_000_000B_01C238C5.A7241DF0" X-Priority: 1 (Highest) X-MSMail-Priority: High Importance: High Precedence: bulk Status: RO Content-Length: 8567 Lines: 200 This is a multi-part message in MIME format. ------=_NextPart_000_000B_01C238C5.A7241DF0 Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii" Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit Could you please be so kind as to renew your TopSites-us directory listing by Thursday, April 17 so we can continue to show it to our millions of users? For information on renewing please go to: http://topsites-us.com/renew-tab.htm?id=611582&d=pgts.com.au If you cannot access our site, just let me know you want to renew by email. Your listing only cost $5 a month. If you have a question, please go to: http://topsites-us.com/faq/index.htm?id=611582&d=pgts.com.au&op=cat&c=1 If you cannot find your answer there, please let me know. I will be happy to help in any way I can. If you do not want to renew, there is no need to write; we will cancel your listing automatically. Kind Regards, Paul Thomas To remove your address from our mailing list and cancel your listing in the directory please UNSUBSCRIBE at: http://topsites-us.com/cancel.htm?id=611582&d=pgts.com.au YOUR LISTING PGTS Pty Ltd Programing to support Oracle, Linux, Unix and Perl. System Administration. Surrey Hills, Victoria. http://www.pgts.com.au/ Your category: http://topsites-us.com/category-tab.htm?id=611582&d=pgts.com.au REACH A HALF MILLION Here is what you get: 1. We will display your listing more than a half million times a year on the TopSites Internet Explorer search tool. 2. We will also display your listing whenever the Internet Explorer tool users search for your keywords at Yahoo, MSN, Google, AOL, Lycos, and Altavista. 3. We will even display your listing on your competitors’ sites whenever the Internet Explorer tool users click on a hyperlink containing your keywords. 4. We will continue to list your website in the TopSites directory at no extra charge. Let us introduce you (a half million times!) People often ask, "How can you guarantee to show my listing a half million times? What if I am in an unpopular category?" It does not matter! Why? Internet Explorer tool--our patent pending tool--continually displays renewed TopSites-us listings on our users PCs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We display TopSites-us listings more than 42 million times in an hour. That is why we can guarantee to show your listing more than a million times a year. Save $20,000 in advertising It would cost you up to $20,000 to display your listing a half million times at sites like MSN and Altavista. Googles charges up to $100,000 depending on your category. At TopSites we charge $5 a month! You are on top at Yahoo, MSN, Google, AOL, Lycos, and Altavista Whenever our Internet Explorer tool users search for one of your keywords at any major search engine, you will appear on top. How? A special window opens that only displays renewed TopSites listings. Want to see this marketing magic for yourself? For pictures and download instructions go to: http://topsites-us.com/guarantee-tab.htm?id=611582&d=pgts.com.au Even your competitors promote you When our Internet Explorer tool users click on a hyperlink at any website in the world, we display relevant TopSites listings. You can expect to see your company advertised even on your competitors websites! Save $100 re-listing fee Please do not let your listing expire. Our editors listed you as one of the top websites in your category without charge. If your listing expires, however, you may need to pay a $100 editorial review fee to get listed again. It can take a month for our editors to authorize a listing. And they may not re-list you if there are too many listings in your category. Only TopSites-us gives you: * Massive Reach: We display our listings billions of times a year. We guarantee to show your listing more than a half million times a year. * Cost-Effectiveness: This is the least expensive advertising you will ever buy. You want to bring lots of potential customers to your site in a cost-effective way. TopSites-us does exactly that! * Highly Targeted Leads: TopSites-us reaches customers when they are searching for what you are selling. That means high sales and low costs. More visitors become customers! * Highest Return on Investment: Independent research confirms that you get the highest ROI from online listings like TopSites-us. E-mail, banners and other forms of online advertising all have a lower ROI. And unlike direct mail, you pay nothing for mailing lists, printing or postage. No media buy returns better results than TopSites-us. * No-Risk: Cancel your listing any time for any reason--no questions asked! * Hassle-Free: Change your listing anytime or even move it to a different category--for free--and your changes will instantly appear in the directory FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS Can I change my listing? You can change your listing now or later. You can rewrite the headline and description before renewing. You can change the URL too—even to another website. Once we receive payment, we will send you instructions on how to change your listing whenever you like. (There is no charge to do this.) Can I change my category? Can I list my site in additional categories? Can I list other sites too? You can list as many sites in as many categories as you like. Each listing costs only $5 per month per category. Just go to www.topsites-us.com. Click on the category links until you find the one you want (or search on your keywords). Click on the Add My Site link. Then type your listing. If your old listing was in the wrong category, you can click unsubscribe to cancel it. How much does a listing cost? Can I renew for free? It costs $5 a month to list your site in TopSites. We no longer offer any free listings. We will bill you $60 for 12 months. There are no additional costs. You can change your listing as often as you like for free. You can cancel your listing anytime and we will refund your remaining money. How do I pay? You can pay with a U.S. check, money order or bank draft. Or you can pay by Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover Card. Simply select the option you prefer on the renewal form. (Unfortunately, we cannot cash overseas checks at this time.) How much did we pay to be listed? Originally you could not buy a listing--you had to wait for our editors to select you as one of the top sites in your category. Do we have a contract with you? We do not ask our customers to sign contracts for a $5 a month service. Can you call me and tell me more? We are happy to answer all your questions by email but we do not contact our customer by phone at this time. Sorry. Can I still renew after your deadline? We give our customers a month to renew so do not worry too much about the deadline. How do I see my listing? I could not find it when I searched. You can go to www.topsites-us.com and click on the categories until you get to /Top/Computers/Consultants/Unix_Systems/Linux/Oceania. You can also see it at www.topsites-us.com by entering two or more keywords from your listing into our search form. Since we have more than three million listings, you probably will not find your listing by searching on only one word. And you definitely will not find it if you search on words that are not in your listing. What keywords display my listing? How do I change them? Every word in your listing is a keyword. Anytime someone searches on two or more words in your listing, we will display it. The only way to change your keywords is to change the headline or description of your listing. How many search engines will we be listed at? You listing will appear at all search engines in Internet Explorers Search window whenever the Internet Explorer tool users do a search. How much traffic did you send us last year? We do not know. Sorry. We are working on adding this feature. ..for more answers go to: http://topsites-us.com/faq/index.htm?id=611582&d=pgts.com.au&op=cat&c=1 Ed: According to whois, Paul Thomas is the technical contact for topsites-us.com. His address is supposedly: 1300 Evans Avenue PO Box 7334 - 101591 San Francisco, CA 94120-7334 If anyone is foolish enough to send him money. I urge you to stop doing it. Send it to me! In return I'll give you the benefit of some very good advice (e.g. don't send money to spammers!). For a previous sample of Paul's work see Last Month's Feedback.
SPAM: Spam from Peter Kurz (Germany)
This spam is similar to the spam which purported to be from firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a domain called firemail.de, however this e-mail was sent from a dial-in address owned by Deutsche Telekom AG.
SPAM: Jane Brooks -- pdhost.com again
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