A Brief History of Spam – The Internet’s Most WantedWritten by Casper Manes on April 10, 2013
Welcome back to our series on everyone’s favourite inbox contents, spam. In today’s post, we’re going to take a look at a veritable rogues’ gallery; a collection of charlatans, cheats, and knaves; a book of blackguards, scumbags, and scallywags; the list of the Internet’s Most Wanted. These are the bottom ten worst of the worst, the most offensive, the lowest of the low. These are the individuals most responsible for the majority of spam hitting your inboxes every day. They are as bad as a banana with a greasy black peep, and are as charming as an eel. They are, in a word, spammers. Most of them are individuals whose names and locations are known, but that doesn’t mean the law can do much if anything about them. For all the time and effort it takes for us all to deal with spam, it most countries it is not illegal, and in those where it is, these individuals steer clear.
The Spamhaus Project is probably well known to many of you who maintain email systems. They are an international non-profit that tracks spam sources. They work with law enforcement to help bring spam operations to a close where they can, and provide valuable anti-spam resources to email admins, including DNS blacklists and ROKSO, the Register of Known Spam Operations.
Spamhaus recently published a Top 10 Worst Spammers list at http://www.spamhaus.org/statistics/spammers/ which details the world’s worst spammers, whether as individuals or organized gangs. If you want to know who to blame for all the wasted time, space, and CPU cycles burned, you need look no further than this list. Here’s a quick run-down on what you can expect to see over at Spamhaus’ list.
- Of the ten worst spammers, six are individuals listed by name, while four are organizations.
- One, based in the US, even has a picture. Apparently his company exists solely to spam.
- At least two are also tied to illegal pornography.
- Six use compromised machines to send out spam.
- One owns their own domain registrar, enabling them to cheaply register as many domains as they want.
- At least five of the ten specialize in pharmaceutical based spam.
- Two also put out financial service based spam. One went so far as to create a fake bank!
- All are in what most would consider first world countries, including Hong Kong, the Ukraine, the United States, the Russian Federation, Canada, and Australia. If you remember our article on where spam comes from, you might recall that most comes from India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Viet Nam, and China. It looks like the worst spammers off-shore their operations.
Spamhaus does much more than simply track the source of spam. The Spamhaus Block List (SBL) is one of the most effective systems you can use with your enterprise email systems to block spam sources before you even have to accept a message or run it through filters. If you maintain an enterprise email system, you should check out http://www.spamhaus.org/faq/section/Spamhaus%20SBL to see how you can use the SBL to help further reduce the amount of spam you have to filter, and ultimately, what gets to your users’ inboxes.