Spam and Broken Windows, and

Spam: Spam Chongqing: Spamming Experiment:

Kasia at decided to run a spamming experiment on her blog. She posted a couple spams to her own blog and waited to see what would happen. In less than 24 hours she received 356 more spams.

The chongqing guys confirm this, and I’ve noticed this as well (although just in passing, I’ve never tried testing it).

Interestingly, I’m pretty sure the same thing can happen with mailing lists, if the mailing list archives are allowed to contain the mailing list’s posting address, and the list allows open posting. It works like this:

  • spammer A posts a spam to the list
  • spam is archived
  • google finds archived spam
  • list-builders B, C, D google for search terms, find archive page for that mail message
  • B, C, D scrape the addresses from that page and pick up the list posting address
  • they then either sell on to spammers E, F, and G, who spam that address, or they spam the address themselves
  • and redo loop from the start.

One key factor is the search terms B, C, and D use. My theory is that they are intending to generate ‘targeted’ lists, and in spamming, most targeted lists are simply lists of addresses scraped from pages that show up in a google search for a specific keyword — ‘meds’, ‘viagra’, ‘degree’, etc.

Joe at chonqing surmises that it may be through the Broken Windows Theory — that spam appearing in a weblog’s comments, or in a wiki page, indicates that the administrator is asleep at the wheel and more spam can be posted with impunity. in my opinion, that’s probably more likely for google-spam and wiki-spam than for email spam, but undoubtedly is a factor.

PS: href=””> has been allowed to lapse and has been stolen by a spammer. Oh dear.

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