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Justin Mason's Weblog Posts

Who the fuck is Amanda Perez?

and why is she spamming me?

From: “Amanda Perez” [email protected] To: [email protected]

Let’s send Amanda Perez and her new video ‘Angel’ to the top of MTV’s Total Request Live!

I don’t think so. How’s about reporting her to SpamCop instead?

Wow, Virgin Records, you are in so much trouble; spamming me with this crap, using a scraped address — in fact, not even a valid address; it’s a Message-Id! That address has never existed to receive mail. Out and out spamming. Unbelievable.

Update: actually, it’s probably nothing to do with Virgin, on reflection; nothing in the headers indicates anything apart from a dialup PacBell customer. So, Virgin Records, sorry for all the shouting ;)

Return-path: (spam-protected)
Delivered-to: (spam-protected)
Received: from localhost (jalapeno [])
by (Postfix) with ESMTP id 4FC7816F17
for (spam-protected) Thu,  6 Mar 2003 11:10:38 +0000 (GMT)
Received: from jalapeno []
by localhost with IMAP (fetchmail-5.9.0)
for (spam-protected) (single-drop); Thu, 06 Mar 2003 11:10:38 +0000 (GMT)
Received: from pavillion (
[]) by (8.11.6/8.11.6) with ESMTP id
h268Nin26527 for (spam-protected) Thu,
6 Mar 2003 08:23:44 GMT
Message-id: (spam-protected)
Mime-version: 1.0
Content-type: text/plain; charset=''iso-8859-1''
Content-transfer-encoding: 7bit
X-spam-status: No, hits=-5.7 required=5.0
X-spam-checker-version: SpamAssassin 2.60-cvs (1.178-2003-03-03-exp)
Subject: They put me on MTV!
From: ''Amanda Perez'' (spam-protected)
Date: Thu, 06 Mar 2003 00:32:25 -0800 (08:32 GMT)
To: (spam-protected)
Let's send Amanda Perez and her new video ''Angel'' to the top of MTV's Total Request 
Thanks for helping Amanda get to the top, please try to vote before the week 
is out, and you can see the results on MTV's TRL.
Just click on the link below or paste it into your browser's Address window and 
hit enter to vote for Amanda's video at

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very nasty new sendmail vulnerability

Remote Sendmail Header Processing Vulnerability.

Attackers may remotely exploit this vulnerability to gain ‘root’ or superuser control of any vulnerable Sendmail server. Sendmail and all other email servers are typically exposed to the Internet in order to send and receive Internet email. Vulnerable Sendmail servers will not be protected by legacy security devices such as firewalls and/or packet filters. This vulnerability is especially dangerous because the exploit can be delivered within an email message and the attacker doesn’t need any specific knowledge of the target to launch a successful attack.

Sendmail versions from 5.79 to 8.12.7 are vulnerable.

Protection mechanisms such as implementation of a non-executable stack do not offer any protection from exploitation of this vulnerability. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability does not generate any log entries.


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Recent history of the written word, with William Gibson

William Gibson, talking about why he uses all-caps book titles, gives a short history lesson regarding the rendering of book titles, back in the age of the mimeograph:

Much of my earliest typewriting experience had to do with mimeography, a pre-thermocopy form of reproduction once fairly universal in the world’s offices. You typed, once, on a waxed paper ‘stencil’, clipped this over a silkscreen device with a moving pad or drum of ink behind it, and your mimeograph ran off (or silkscreened, really) as many copies of your document as you required. Owing to the physical peculiarities of the medium, though, it was unwise to underline too frequently on a mimeograph stencil: the single unbroken line was particularly prone to tear, producing leaks and smudging.

People who liked books, and frequently wrote letters, on typewriters, to other people who liked books, tended, free from the constraints of an academic stylesheet, to render titles in all-caps. People who wrote about books for publication in amateur journals (mimeo was an authentic medium of the American samisdat) rendered titles in all-caps in order to avoid stencil-tears. At various times, I was both.

It’s such a pleasure having this kind of stuff to read every day!

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Returnadores: a New Life in the Old World. ‘Imported from Argentina to help save the village from a decades-long decline in population which threatened its very future, the Paez family has travelled backwards along the path of the first conquistadores and the generations of Spanish emigrants who followed them.’

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Random Word of BIG LETTERS

Leonard notes the ‘Random word of mixed symbols with length 1 to 27’ type spammer obfuscation, suggesting it’s ‘open source spam’; I reckon it’s more ‘literate programming spam’, in that it’s self-documenting. But it certainly is very wierd. Maybe some spamtool developer has a COBOL fetish.

Anyway, just got back from a very enjoyable work trip to find my visa documents have arrived — so things are probably going to heat up ’round about Thursday, when I have my interview at the US Embassy. Once that happens, it’s full speed ahead on flights, shipping, figuring out how to transport the cat, handing over house to new tenants, etc. etc…

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Bitstream come through with Vera

Bitstream Vera released as a beta. The full release, sometime next month, will use an extremely open license. To quote the FAQ:

Are derivative works allowed?


I want to sell a software package that uses these fonts: Can I do so?

Sure. Bundle the fonts with your software and sell your software with the fonts. That is the intent of the copyright.

Hey presto — open source fonts! Good work by Jim Gettys, Bitstream and GNOME in making these available.

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World’s first 419 revenge killing? (fwd)


Spam: The Register: World’s first 419 revenge killing?

Michael Lekara Wayid, 50, Nigeria’s consul in the Czech Republic, was shot dead at the embassy yesterday morning. The embassy’s 37-year-old receptionist was shot in the hand during the melee which began after a suspect opened fire after visiting the embassy to discuss an unspecified business matter yesterday morning. A 72-year-old Czech man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder, the BBC reports. Unconfirmed, and thus far sketchy reports, suggest the unnamed suspect was a victim of a 419 (AKA advanced fee) fraud.

Now that’s taking it a bit too far IMO ;)

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A new world for radio regulators

GNU Radio, which (as noted on Boing Boing) has just released screenshots of a successfully-decoded HDTV signal, is a totally new way to receive (and possibly, in the future, send) radio-frequency signals. The FCC ponder the implications:

The emergence of the low-cost, generally available SDR which can be configured with … open software will present a new issue for regulators. What will be placed in the hands of the public entrepreneurs, amateurs, and even those with malicious intent will be machines which in principal can emulate, send, and receive any radio signal on any band. …

Then, with the world-wide availability of software that can even be modified if needed, any radio transmitter or receiver can be emulated. Bans on receiver types will be circumventable with ease. Mandates such as the proposed ATSC broadcast flag will be hard to enforce (and may even fail in the presence of a single web-connected noncompliant receiver). And, although not generally an issue for the Commission, it will be possible to implement proprietary systems without the benefit of any license from the patent holder. Because the software is open, as a practical matter virtually all mandated restrictions will be at risk (except for total power output which remains a classical hardware issue). …

In the GNU SDR environment, we have the makings of a powerful new technology that has the potential of solving the spectrum management problem, but we may also have other people in the world writing and distributing software with their own agenda.

Wow. That’s a brave new world. I wish I knew enough about radio tech to really get a handle on this stuff…

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AOL reports on its spam-blocking efforts

Lycos: AOL reports to Members on Its Efforts to Fight Spam. ‘Members Now Reporting 4.1 Million Junk E-Mails Daily To AOL’ …. ‘AOL announced that its proprietary anti-spam filtering technology is blocking up to 780 million pieces of junk mail every day from reaching member e-mail inboxes, which amounts to an average of 22 blocked spam e-mails per account daily.’

Of course, they don’t say how much mail overall arrives at AOL, but I’d hazard a guess it’s not much over 1,300 million messages per day based on those figures.

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Hotmail getting tough on spammers

Reg: Hotmail files anti-spam lawsuit. ‘Microsoft has targeted spammers with a lawsuit aimed at bulk mailers who harvest email addresses of Hotmail subscribers in order to bombard them with junk. … In the suit, Microsoft alleges that unnamed bulk mailers used tools to randomly generate email addresses prior to testing this list out to see which accounts were active. Essentially this is a form of dictionary attack, which Microsoft argues violates federal laws including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Trespass is also involved in the attacks, the software giant argues.’ Go Hotmail!

Also noteworthy: The Spammers Are Watching You: ‘Eight out of ten spam e-mails contain covert tracking codes which allow the senders to record and log recipients’ e-mail addresses as soon as they open the message.’ well, duh, that’s why SpamAssassin has a WEB_BUGS rule. Unfortunately, eight out of ten legit HTML newsletter mails also contain web bugs, too. :(

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Incredible Documentary on the Venezuelan Coup

last night RTE showed Chavez – Inside The Coup, a documentary about the 2-day coup d’etat in Venezuela in April 2002 which overthrew Hugo Chavez, and was then in turn overthrown in a popular uprising.

It was incredible. The team had amazing access to Chavez and the presidential palace while the 2-day coup and mass protests went on. The cameras are right there while Chavez is taken into custody by the generals, carries on rolling through the censorship of the media, through the street protests and shotgun-blasting riot police, and then catches the loyal-to-Chavez presidential guard retaking the palace from the inside.

Finally, it follows the negotiations to get Chavez returned from custody etc.; his cabinet are right there, on screen, talking to the generals on the phone while you watch and listen. Incredible footage, right from the thick of it.

As far as I could tell, it’s called Chavez – Inside The Coup, and is by Power Pictures, Irish lads from Galway, no less.

I’ve never seen anything like it. If you get a chance, don’t miss it.

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Sony’s Civil War

Wired: The Civil War Inside Sony.

By rights, Sony should own the portable player business. The company’s first hit product, back in the ’50s, was the transistor radio, the tinny-sounding invention that took rock and roll out of the house and away from the parents and allowed the whole Elvis thing to happen. A quarter-century later, the Walkman enabled the kids of the ’70s to take their tapes and tune out the world. But the 21st-century Walkman doesn’t bother with tapes or CDs or minidiscs; it stores hundreds of hours of music on its own hard drive. And it sports an Apple logo. ….

Where the iPod simply lets you sync its contents with the music collection on your personal computer, Walkman users are hamstrung by laborious ‘check-in/check-out’ procedures designed to block illicit file-sharing. And a Walkman with a hard drive? Not likely, since Sony’s copy-protection mechanisms don’t allow music to be transferred from one hard drive to another – not an issue with the iPod. ‘We do not have any plans for such a product,’ says Kimura, the smile fading. ‘But we are studying it.’ ….

What’s changed since the original Walkman debuted is that Sony became the only conglomerate to be in both consumer electronics and entertainment. As a result, it’s conflicted: Sony’s electronics side needs to let customers move files around effortlessly, but its entertainment side wants to build in restraints, because it sees every customer as a potential thief.

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Ashutosh Varshney on ethnic conflicts

Great interview with Ashutosh Varshney, an Indian political scientist investigating ethnic violence. From New Scientist, via Damien Morton on FoRK.

So what is the key to predicting which communities will turn violent and which will remain peaceful in times of ethnic unrest?

It comes down to how the cities or villages are structured, and the networks that people form across religious or ethnic divides. In India I have identified two types of civic network, which I call the associational and the everyday. The everyday type covers things such as Hindu and Muslim children playing together and their families and friends visiting each other or eating with each other, or taking part in festivals together. The associational type involves the two groups being members of the same trade unions, sports clubs, student unions, reading clubs, political parties or business organisations. Associational structures go beyond neighbourhood warmth, and in times of unrest they are much more robust. They can be a serious constraint on the polarising strategies of political elites. Places with strong networks of this kind are very likely to remain peaceful.

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Reverse-engineering: now even easier with added XML

Slashdot posts a story about ‘Hacking the Streamium’ — the Streamium is an ‘internet micro hi-fi’ made by Philips. The poster writes ‘the main gripes (are) that Philips controls which Internet radio stations you can listen to and that the PC-link software … only runs on Windows. I managed to fix both of these problems by reverse engineering the PC-link protocol and writing my own pc-link server in perl, which can be run on practically any OS, *and* can trick the Streamium into playing any Internet MP3 stream that you want’.

A quick look at his page notes ‘the protocol consists of fairly simple xml tags’. It sure does; I’d imagine it took all of 5 minutes with a tcpdump reversing that! In fact, it looks so easy to reverse-engineer, you’d have to wonder if the engineers at Philips weren’t hoping something like this might happen ;)

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Marching on Traffic-cam

traffic-camera pictures of the London anti-war march! What would J. G. Ballard make of this? ;)

and here’s Hyde Park:

Unfortunately none similar of Dublin.

In passing — an interesting factoid found on Adam Back’s PGP Timeline page: ‘While Iraq was still a secret US ally against Iran, Iraqi exchange students (in the US) using the same literature as (Phil Zimmermann, inventor of PGP) later did, wrote a working (Public Key) cryptosystem for (the Iraqi) military – which was using poison gas against the Kurds at the time.’ Hmm, ironic!

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Everest Base Camp to get internet cafe

BBC: High hopes for Everest cybercafe. ‘Tsering Gyalzen hopes the internet facility at Mount Everest base camp will open by March. Proceeds from the venture will support pollution control at the camp, which is used by climbers hoping to scale the world’s highest peak. Mr Gyalzen, a member of the Sherpa community, says launch plans for the ambitious project are in the final stage. He told the BBC he was awaiting permission from the authorities to install VSAT digital satellite and other equipment at the base camp, which is over 5,000 metres above sea level.’ How cool is that?

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Mark Fletcher and Trustic

Mark Fletcher is the guy behind Trustic, a new system which combines aspects of DNSBLs with (what Raph reckons is) a ‘PageRank-ish trust metric’.

My take on Trustic is that it needs a way to accumulate trusted, non-spam-relaying addresses; I’m not sure how they intend to get that, apart from people setting up accounts to say ‘this is my server’.

Anyway, he also has a blog, with this very interesting (and scary) snippet:

Elance, Spammers, and the Global Economy

eLance is a web site that connects contractors with companies looking to outsource projects. Companies post projects, including detailed descriptions of the work to be done, and contractors or contract houses bid on them. … So what were many of the projects on eLance about? A quick scan revealed project titles such as: Email Address Extraction From Web Site, Ebay Email Extractor, Linux highspeed directmailer, and Bulk E-Mail and E-Mail Extraction Project. Elance is providing a way for spammers to develop new spam technologies, utilizing a cheap, skilled global work force!

Yikes. Sure enough, a search of eLance for ‘bulk mail’ reveals a seller called bulkemail01 (1-5 employees, headquartered in the USA): Bulk Mailing and Offshore Hosting Solutions: ‘ We provide bulk email soultions and offshore hosting for the advanced bulk mailer.’

And these projects — as Mark notes, the project descriptions require a login, but the prospective-seller comments do not, so I’ve reproduced some snippets here. A search for bulk mail reveals 11 open projects, including: Bulk Mail Server and Bulk Mail Service Needed Immediately, Bulk E-Mail and Targeted E-Mail Extraction Project, Distributed Bulk Emailer, and bulletproof hosting and mailing needed.

A bunch called DbInnovation, 10-13 employees, based in Hungary and Russia, comments on one project that ‘we are developing a high performance linux e-mailer. Sends through all kinds of proxies, uses several antifitering techniologies, uses random subjects and ‘from’ addresses, etc, etc, etc (LOTS of other features). Web-based control centre for it. The mailer can be run on 30-50 servers simmultaniously and controlled from one place. Every server sends LIGHT FAST – 5-7 millions daily. It is VERY complicated and POWERFULL clustered software. It was written on C and it tunes Linux kernel to make the speed as fast as possible. The sw is under redevelopment and will be ready to March.’

Hostrus, aka ‘Hosting R Us’, 6-19 employees, Toronta, Canada: comments ‘We offer reliable spam tolerant bullet proof hosting that will NEVER get shut down!! we provide reliable bullet proof hosting We can provide you with references,test IPs and provide you with a solution’.

dsln (profile ‘no longer available’): We have servers in Jakarta, Indonesia, India, Japan , Brazil, Arentina, Russia. And all of them are BULK EMAIL FRIENDLY. You server will never e SHUT DOWN due to complains. The ISP’s will take up all the heat,what soever. The line would be 2MBPS one.You will also get 16 IPs per server, which can be changed every 15 days as you want. New Pool of IPs can be given to you every 15 days. These servers can be utilised very well for the mailing, you ae looking at. … We can do these kind of mailing for you. We mail arround 8-10 Million email IDs , using several servers and can do this kind of mailing for you as well. The cost for sending 10 Million emails would be $1050.

MobileSoft (Karachi, Pakistan): ‘We can provide you the SPAM Friendly Dedicated servers with control panel , we can handle more than 50 K Complaints daily, we will provide you the ips as your requirement’.

prompt (Anmol Solutions, Argentina): ‘I can host you at 4 bullet proof places, 2 in Arg and brazil each, i can give you 2 *256 ips if you want and you will have 10 MPBS line. For each server you will be charged $250 per month and $400 setup charges, you may easyly go upto 25 servers with the same amt of bw yes u may mail u may host u may do what ever you want :)’

A couple of other sites show the same situation: here’s a project at to build a ‘Bulk Mailer using open Proxies’.

In other words, these sites provide what seems to be a good look into the heart of spamware development. Scary stuff.

BTW an open invitation: if any ‘white hats’ out there get their hands on specific spamware, I’d appreciate them dropping me a line (email addr here). The idea is to analyze the tools and get good signatures for their spam, then add those signatures to SpamAssassin.

In other news, Slashdot reports that SpamAssassin apparently blocks Crypto-Gram. Not quite the case: as Dan points out, it gets 3.2 on version 2.44, and 1.9 on the nearly-released 2.50. That’s well inside the ‘this is ham’ range. However, this comment reports that the mail has been listed in Razor, which pushes it up to 5.9…

So more correctly — Razor thinks it’s spam, not SpamAssassin ;)

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Richard Dawkins on GM foods

Richard Dawkins: why Prince Charles is so wrong (via BB).

An interesting read, if only because Richard Dawkins misses several massive chunks of the anti-GMO argument, as several folks point out on the BB discussion board. Firstly, the profit drive is the only thing driving deployed GM products, and that’s already been shown to produce unsafe results, in the UK with BSE. Secondly, as one of the posters says, ‘Oh, yeah — Dawkins is absolutely right (in comparing GM to modifying running software): Nothing to gripe about when people tinker with your mission critical apps’.

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**GTA: Vice City**

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has been nominated for the Designer of the Year award in London:

‘We will be highlighting the reason why it is worthy for this prize,’ (the curator) added, noting the game’s attention to detail in costuming, music and atmosphere.

‘I’ve never been so excited to just watch a video game, never mind playing it,’ said Sellers. ‘It is really great to see all the details and feel the nuances. Playing it is even better.’

I must say, I have to agree. It’s easily one of the best games I’ve ever played; insanely playable and full of amazing attention to detail. The content’s a bit strong in places, but the same can be said of Mean Streets or Scarface, and I’m sure they may have picked up an award or two themselves, along the way. It’s just (interactive) fiction.

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Proposed Irish data retention laws

Karlin notes this about ‘the extraordinary letter the Department of Justice sent out this week to various parties’.

According to the letter, the Department will hold a preliminary forum to ‘initiate’ a consultation process on its proposed three-year data retention bill … The forum begins at 3pm — clearly making sure no long and unruly discussions will develop! — and starts with a 20-minute address by the Minister, followed by a 20-minute address by the Dept of Communications on the 1997 EU Data Privacy Directive (which, BTW, Ireland STILL has not implemented despite being under legal threat by the EU — and note that there’s no mention of the far more crucial 2002 amended Directive, voted in last May by a spineless and ill-informed EU Parliament, which allows for up to SEVEN YEARS data retention.

Then — and this is the amazing bit — attendees get a 20 minute pep talk by An Garda Siochana (the Irish police force) ‘on the contribution of data retention in the fight against crime.’

When you pick yourself up off the floor, remind yourself that this is the Irish government’s formal initiation of a purported public discussion on data retention — brought to you by the Irish police. Amazing. You’d have thought they’d at least *pretend* to be balanced and disinterested, and perhaps ask Joe Meade, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, to contribute as well. …

The Department of Justice itself should have nothing whatsoever to do with ANY consultation process on this proposed bill. Instead, as in the UK, an independent Dail group should hold hearings and get public input into this.

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They seek him here, they seek him there…

Looking for an old mate, Alan Toner, and it’s turning out to be tricky; the last mail address I had for him now bounces.

It seems all three. He gets around!

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SpamAssassin makes the New York Times!

James Gleick: A Plague on E-Mail, in yesterday’s New York Times magazine. We’ve broken out of the ‘technology’ section!

One of the best tools for network administrators is an ever-evolving program called SpamAssassin, which uses a range of tests and a point system to identify spam…

It’s so cool that James Gleick likes our ‘delightful SpamAssassin irony’, too ;)

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Dear Raed — a blog from an Iraqi bloke called Salam Pax. It’s amazing to read this; a true, educated, passionate, reasonable voice from inside Iraq.

The trenches and sandbag mountains I wrote about last week are now all over Baghdad. They are not being put there by the army; they are part of the Party’s preparations for an insurgence. Each day a different area of Baghdad goes thru the motions. Party members spread in the streets of that area, build the trenches, sit in them polishing their Kalashnikovs and drink tea. The annoyance-factor of these training days depend on the zeal of the party members in that area. Until now the worst was the (14th of Ramadan) street, they stopped cars searched them and asked for ID and military cards, good thing I wasn’t going thru that street, I still have not stamped my military papers to show that I have done my reserves training.

Totally off on a tangent, but that street-name reminds me of a line from McCarthy’s Bar (extract here):

In Germany once, in the military garrison town of Erlangen, I had a few drinks with three American GIs who were planning to visit England because it would be neat to see where John Lennon and Elvis grew up’. They also wanted to know if they could use dollars, and would the street signs be in English? I tried to tell them about Elvis coming from Tennessee, but it seemed to make them want to kill me. The Twenty-eighth Rule states: Never Get Drunk with Soldiers (particularly in countries where the streets are named after dates).
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SHOWDOWN in the CRISIS in the WAR in IRAQ in the GULF

SomethingAwful provide their own inimitable spin on how the potential war in Iraq will be fought, featuring Operation: Fifty Legions of Sardaukar (‘Imperial strategists estimate minimal casualties among the Sardaukar troops and allied forces of Baron Tony Blair and House United Kingdom’), and Operation: Winnuke (‘US_of_A(NATO) wants to send you the file Dance_Routine(Funny!).wmv.vbs’).

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Spam about spamming

how unfortunate! I guess this spammer hit the wrong key when selecting which set of addresses to send this mail to…


Here is the harvested list 165 names for telecom central office installation. Put together a email promo that we can send out.


Subject: Telecom email broadcast marketing
From: “Larry” (spam-protected)
Date: Fri, 7 Feb 2003 07:12:43 -0700 (14:12 GMT)
To: “Joshua Dyer (E-mail)” (spam-protected)

(Here’s the full text, headers and all:)

From (spam-protected) Fri Feb 7 17:57:50 2003 Return-Path: (spam-protected) Delivered-To: (spam-protected) Received: from localhost (jalapeno)
by (Postfix) with ESMTP id 119CB16F17 for (spam-protected) Fri, 7 Feb 2003 17:57:49 +0000 (GMT) Received: from jalapeno by localhost with IMAP (fetchmail-5.9.0) for (spam-protected) (single-drop); Fri, 07 Feb 2003 17:57:49 +0000 (GMT) Received: from ([]) by (8.11.6/8.11.6) with ESMTP id h17Fv7E22990; Fri, 7 Feb 2003 15:57:09 GMT Received: from LARRY by with ESMTP (SMTPD32-7.13) id AF4F931006A; Fri, 07 Feb 2003 08:14:39 -0600 From: “Larry” (spam-protected) To: “Joshua Dyer (E-mail)” (spam-protected) Subject: Telecom email broadcast marketing Date: Fri, 7 Feb 2003 07:12:43 -0700 Message-Id: (spam-protected) MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary=”—-=_NextPart_000_0503_01C2CE78.4F82BA40″ X-Priority: 3 (Normal) X-Msmail-Priority: Normal X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook CWS, Build 9.0.2416 (9.0.2911.0) X-Mimeole: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V6.00.2800.1106 Importance: Normal X-Spam-Status: No, hits=4.5 required=5.0 tests=BAYES_30,HTML_70_80,HTML_FONT_COLOR_BLUE,
HTML_FONT_COLOR_GREEN,HTML_FONT_COLOR_RED, HTML_FONT_FACE_ODD,HTML_MESSAGE,RCVD_IN_NJABL, SMTPD_IN_RCVD,X_NJABL_OPEN_PROXY version=2.50-cvs X-Spam-Level: X-Spam-Checker-Version: SpamAssassin 2.50-cvs (1.167-2003-02-03-exp)
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.


Content-Type: text/plain; charset=”iso-8859-1″ Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

Here is the harvested list 165 names for telecom central office


Put together a email promo that we can send out.


Larry Dyer, President

OEL WORLDWIDE INDUSTRIES : Worldwide Optics PO Box 445 Palmer Lake, CO 80133 websites: & Corporate: 719 559-0951 Fax: 719 559-0955 National Sales: 800 818-2244
Content-Type: text/html; charset=”iso-8859-1″ Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable
Here=20 is the harvested list 165 names for telecom central office=20 installation.
Put=20 together a email promo that we can send out.
Larry Dyer,=20 President
Worldwide =
PO Box 445
Palmer Lake, CO = 80133
Corporate: 719 = 559-0951
Fax: 719 = 559-0955
National Sales: = 800 818-2244

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Jhai Foundation notes bus attack in Laos

The latest Jhai Foundation newsletter notes an attack on a bus in Laos:

Some of you may have heard about a ‘terrorist attack’ in Laos yesterday. The reports are true. Eight People on a bus and two people on motorcycles were killed after a robbery. Two of them were internationals. Their identities and nationalities have not yet been confirmed. The attackers are thought to be Lao citizens, probably Hmong, possibly still caught up in the war that ended 28 years ago here. This will not be confirmed until they are caught.

This incident took place more than 30 km North of Vang Vieng or about 100 km North of our launch site. This is a sad day in Laos.

Whoa, I think I was on that bus a year ago! As I recall, that area of Laos is still noted for occasional bandit attacks…

Date: 07 Feb 2003 22:29:44 +1100
From: (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected)
Subject: Jhai Foundation Remote Villages Network Update, Security Issues, New FAQs, Press Visas


table width=”75%” border=”0″ cellpadding=”5″ align=”center”>


Foundation Remote Villages Network.


update from Lee,
New FAQ’s,
Security Issues and

If You Need a Press Visa





p> Jesse Thorn 1 415 225 1665,

Earl Mardle 612 9787 4527,


Enthusiastic "Ground Level"

support team.


Lee Thorn in Laos

Dear friends,

We are on

track and we will launch on 13 February. Lee Felsenstein arrived last

night and is whipping us into shape in his gentle, nerdish way. Ed Gaible

arrived with him and is now up a tree on a mountain above the village

of Phon Kham. All of us – about 40 people between the village and our

staff and volunteers – are working hard and our spirits are high.


Sad Day For Laos


of you may have heard about a ‘terrorist attack’ in Laos yesterday. The

reports are true. Eight People on a bus and two people on motorcycles

were killed after a robbery. Two of them were internationals. Their identities

and nationalities have not yet been confirmed. The attackers are thought

to be Lao citizens, probably Hmong, possibly still caught up in the war

that ended 28 years ago here. This will not be confirmed until they are


This incident

took place more than 30 km North of Vang Vieng or about 100 km North of

our launch site. This is a sad day in Laos.


Arrangements For The Launch

As I write, Vorasone Dengkayaphichith, our great country coordinator,

is meeting with officials in Hin Heup District and Vientiane Province

to make final arrangements for security for all people at our launch and

party on 13 February. Vor and I know many, many children in the village

of Phon Kham and the other villages and Bounthanh has nieces and nephews,

and sisters and brothers and her parents there, too. Those children will

be safe – and, I believe, we will be safe, too.

Our remote

village project is a sophisticated, appropriate high tech endeavor designed

by Lee Felsenstein and his excellent team specifically for the needs as

expressed by the villagers who are getting the system.

And this

project rests in Jhai Foundation, … which is a reconciliation organization

which, now, has worked for over five years in Laos, and nearly three,

now, on state-of-the-art IT projects. Jhai Foundation is we people in

it and our relationships – and there are hundreds of us doing something

every day – and we are located all over the world.


like peace – and like development – is the opposite of war. Reconciliation

is the process of recognizing our connection – something that always was

and always will be, something very, very valuable. Jhai – in Lao – means

the spirit and energy of connection, as well as hearts and minds working

together … and many other similar things. It is neutral. It is up to

us how we act, how we respect.

War and peace

are matters of choice. Sometimes we choose to close down and kill. For

this – I know and most Lao people know – you pay until you die. The price

is unbelievably huge. Other times we choose to open up and connect. For

this – thanks to Lao people who teach me about this daily by the way the

are and act – I know you get the chance for joy, the chance to recognize

others as just plain people … and the chance to know and like yourself.

The choice, it seems, is easy. What shall we take?

In an age

of terrorism – which breeds fear like a virus – it is best to connect.

We choose to connect, to move forward, to do what we can do – with you

A sextet of ales!

subject line of the week — sounds like the spammer’s been listening to Homer’s Vocabulary Builder tape:

Subject: < Hi Jm, I am Bella, concupiscent youngster >
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Apple’s ‘Bounce To Sender’ a Bad Idea

Matt journals a snippet from Apple’s eNews newsletter (originally forwarded by Skip Montanaro on the spambayes list), as follows:

Delivering a One-Two Punch to Spammers

Yes, Mac OS X Mail can help you deliver a staggering blow to spammers. Simply pull down the Mail menu, choose Junk Mail, and select Automatic. The next time you receive email, Mail will move suspect email into a Junk folder.

Now you’re ready to deliver a real knockout punch to spammers by taking advantage of yet another potent spam-fighting weapon:

  1. Click on the Junk folder.
  2. Type Command-a to select all of the email in the Junk folder.
  3. Choose Bounce to Sender from the Message menu.

    Mail will return the selected messages to the senders marked User unknown, making them think your email address invalid, encouraging them to drop you from their lists, and, thus, eliminating spam at its source.

Read on for details as to why this does not work (warning: long).

Subject: Bad move, Apple
From: Skip Montanaro (spam-protected)
Date: Thu, 6 Feb 2003 11:45:24 -0600 (17:45 GMT)
To: (spam-protected)

Got this in today’s Apple eNews mailing:

  1. Delivering a One-Two Punch to Spammers …………………………………..

    Yes, Mac OS X Mail can help you deliver a staggering blow to spammers. Simply pull down the Mail menu, choose Junk Mail, and select Automatic. The next time you receive email, Mail will move suspect email into a Junk folder.

    Now you’re ready to deliver a real knockout punch to spammers by taking advantage of yet another potent spam-fighting weapon:

  2. Click on the Junk folder.
  3. Type Command-a to select all of the email in the Junk folder.
  4. Choose “Bounce to Sender” from the Message menu.

    Mail will return the selected messages to the senders marked “User unknown,” making them think your email address invalid, encouraging them to drop you from their lists, and, thus, eliminating spam at its source.

Justin’s comments:

This sounds like an attractive idea at first — mail ‘user unknown’ Delivery Status Notifications back to the spammers, and they’ll take your address off their lists. However, it doesn’t work, and may actually send more noise to non-spammers. Here’s why.

  • First of all, most spam these days is sent using one of three
    • originating-address methods. The first is totally randomly generated From, Reply-To and/or Errors-To addresses, typically at a big ISP like Yahoo! or Hotmail. So replying to these with a ‘user unknown’ DSN will result in nothing more than wasting your own, and that ISP’s, bandwidth, as the address never existed anyway.
  • The second method is for the spammers to use a random address plucked from the same ‘addresses to spam’ list your name is on. So your ‘user unknown’ DSN will be sent to someone else on the spam-list, increasing the amount of crap they get in their mailbox. Oops.
  • Third is the joe-job. This is where the spammer has deliberately picked the address of someone they dislike, so that a barrage of complaints, legitimate ‘user unknown’ messages, and — yes — forged ‘user unknown’ messages! — will be sent to that person. Generally, if an spam-fighter gets joe-jobbed, you can be sure they’re doing something right ;)

Next — even if the spammers were to see your ‘user unknown’ message, they do not act on it:

  • There is a way for ‘user unknown’ messages to be communicated back to
    • the spammer (by doing it in the very first SMTP transaction). However, many folks who have tried this method have noted that it has no effect; spamware tools take a ‘fire and forget’ approach.

      After all, spammers want to send the mail as fast as possible, before they’re blocked from the relay or proxy they’re abusing, and before the DNSBLs and Razor react. So the method is simply to send as much mail as possible, without waiting for replies, and with as little identifying information as possible (to make it hard for them to be tracked down). In other words, any data coming back from the receiver is worthless to them, and may in fact get them shut down, so must be avoided.

  • Another factor is that, if your address is one of those ‘Addresses on CD’, you’ve got hundreds of spammers you’ll need to send bounces to (and hope they honour them). Each one of those spammers has a different copy of the address list, so removal from one — if it happens — won’t help with removal from the others.
  • Yet another aspect is that they do not want to reduce the number of addresses they send to. Spam economics is such that 2,000,000 addresses on CD are worth more than 1,000,000 addresses on CD, and who cares if half of them bounce, ‘cos you’ve paid your money already ;)

So, anyway, that’s why sending fake-bounces in response to spam is bad.

One pay-off, however, is that it makes the creation of spam-traps easy:


  • Take an old account that gets too much spam, set up an auto-reply saying
    • “this person has moved to (spam-protected) (although probably using a less machine-readable address format).
  • 3 months later, delete the account so it bounces with ‘user unknown’. That should clear out all the well-behaved mailing lists.
  • 6 months later, redirect it to yourself and monitor it, to catch the badly-behaved legitimate bulk mailers who do not handle bounces correctly (yes, there’s a few of these, unfortunately.)

  • 1 month after that, set up an alias that runs “spamassassin -r”. Install Razor, DCC and Pyzor. Set up a Razor account. Fix the old account’s addresses so they forward to this alias. Also worth piping it to the OPM checker.

Hey presto, there’s your spam trap!

1 Comment


GNOME 2.2 includes nifty new font technology, I see; including ‘drag into ~/.fonts’ font installation, at last, thanks to Keith Packard. I especially like this:

Jim Gettys and the GNOME Foundation Board worked with Bitstream, Inc. to arrange the donation of the Vera font family to the Free Software community.

Here’s what Vera looks like; very nice. Finally, some decent free fonts — kudos to Bitstream.

And I see subpixel smoothing is now right in there, in the basic font preferences. Excellent news!

But where TF is the Metacity documentation? Maybe there’s none, in the tradition set down over generations of GNOME hacks^Wapplications. (Pet peeve: every command in the default PATH should have a manual page IMO.)

The ‘documentation’ and ‘home page’ links I can find all lead to a directory of tarballs. Great. The best result Google can find, after the aforementioned tarballs, is a blog posting complaining about Metacity. Hmm — scary — I really don’t like the implication that the only way to do my own key-binding prefs, is to run a batch of 15 gconftool commands every time I log in… ah shaggit, I’ll use sawfish ;)

(PS: yes, I’m still on GNOME 1. That’s what happens when you’re stuck on the wrong end of dial-up.)

Crypto: The Crypto Gardening Guide and Planting Tips by Peter Gutmann. Excellent advice on how crypto designers should design protocols so that they can actually get implemented. Also, as a corollary; good tips on common crypto gotchas for implementors to watch out for. Some bonus funnies, too:

Note: PGP adopts each and every bleeding-edge technology that turns up, so it doesn’t figure in the above timeline. Looking at this the other way, if you want your design adopted quickly, present it as the solution for an attack on PGP.

A little bit more introduction on some of the items would be worthwhile though. I don’t have a clue what OAEP is for example ;)

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Auth cookies in SMTP

Jeremy describes a way to kill off ‘joe-jobs’ — the practice of forging somebody’s address on spam, generally used to get around ‘does this user exist’ spam-filters, also used to ‘punish’ folks the spammer doesn’t like. Anyway, JZ’s suggestion is this:

One of the ideas tossed about was to implement a system that would make it easy for any MTA (Mail Transfer Agent–the programs that deliver e-mail on the Internet) to verify that a message that claims to be from [email protected] really is from a user.

This is technically doable. And it might be a good idea. Especially, as I argued, if one of the other big players (AOL or MSN/Hotmail) jumps on board and uses the same technique. If either one began to do the same, I expect that a domino effect would follow. Boom. Instant adoption.

But then he doesn’t say how to do this in a way that a spammer can’t forge. Dammit. ;)

Anyway, on with the message.

… However, one interesting objection was raised during the debate…

Wouldn’t that just cause spammers to prey on domains that are less equipped to ‘swallow a few million bounces per hour without breaking a sweat’? (To paraphrase a co-worker.)

Yep, it would — until those domains also instituted similar systems. Anyway, those domains are victims now anyway; I would say only about 50% of my spam comes from forged Yahoo!, Hotmail or other domains — the rest uses domains of small ISPs, and the occasional joe-job.

But back to the system. I would guess what Jeremy’s talking about is pretty similar to the system Pedro Melo describes in the comments. It consists of 2 components:

  • a header added by the MTA at relay time — X-Originator-Signature.
    • This contains ‘an internal identifier for the person who sent it …, a timestamp, and a MD5 of those two fields and a third secret passphrase I keep.’
  • a CGI script on a web server, which validates a pasted X-Originator-Signature header against what hashing those values with the secret passphrase produces, and responds ‘yea’ or ‘nay’.

A nifty idea. Jeremy, was that what you were thinking?

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SOAP and firewalls

Taking a look at the referrers, I came across Mark O’Neill’s weblog, which lists on the blogroll; Mark’s the CTO of Vordel. They have a product called VordelSecure, which seems to be a SOAP firewall proxy, in the same way the Wonderwall product I wrote for Iona was a proxy for CORBA:

When a firewall examines a SOAP request received over HTTP, it might conclude that this is valid HTTP traffic and let it pass. Firewalls tend to be all-or-nothing when it comes to SOAP. A SOAP-level firewall should be capable of:
  1. Identifying if the incoming SOAP request is targeted at a Web service which is intended to be available

  2. Identifying if the content of the SOAP message is valid. This is analogous to what happens at the Network Layer, where IP packet contents are examined. However, at the Application Layer it requires data that the Web service expects.


I hear Wonderwall is still around, but rewritten from the ground up. Sorry about that to whoever had to rewrite it ;)

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FTC to hold spam summit

FTC to Hold Three Day Public Spam Workshop. ‘The Federal Trade Commission will host a three-day ‘Spam Forum’ Wednesday, April 30 through Friday, May 2, to address the proliferation of unsolicited commercial e-mail and to explore the technical, legal, and financial issues associated with it. The forum will be held at the Federal Trade Commission, 601 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. It will be open to the public and preregistration is not required.

A Federal Register notice to be issued shortly says, ‘To explore the impact that spam has on consumers’ use of e-mail, e-mail marketing and the Internet industry, the Commission will convene a public forum. E-mail marketers, anti-spammers, Internet Service Providers (ISP), ISP abuse department personnel, spam filter operators, other e-mail technology professionals, consumers, consumer groups, and law enforcement officials are especially encouraged to participate.”

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Anti-Americanism and Anti-Europeanism

In the last few weeks, there’s been a growing discussion of what’s being perceived as an ‘anti-American’ point of view in Europe; see Thomas Friedman on the subject. On the other side, The New York Review of Books carries an interesting essay on this subject: Anti-Europeanism in America. It contains this revealing summary of a December 2002 study:

Asked to choose one of four statements about American versus European approaches to diplomacy and war, 30 percent of Democratic voters but only 6 percent of Republican voters chose ‘The Europeans seem to prefer diplomatic solutions over war and that is a positive value Americans could learn from.’ By contrast only 13 percent of Democrats but 35 percent of Republicans (the largest single group) chose ‘The Europeans are too willing to seek compromise rather than to stand up for freedom even if it means war, and that is a negative thing.’

The divide was even clearer when respondents were asked to pick between two statements about ‘the way in which the war on Iraq should be conducted.’ Fifty-nine percent of Republicans as opposed to just 33 percent of Democrats chose ‘The US must remain in control of all operations and prevent its European allies from limiting the States’ room to maneuver.’ By contrast, 55 percent of Democrats and just 34 percent of Republicans chose ‘It is imperative that the United States allies itself with European countries, even if it limits its ability to make its own decisions.’

It seems a hypothesis worth investigating that actually it’s Republicans who are from Mars and Democrats who are from Venus.

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Cannabis Economics

and now, on a lighter note, The Observer reports that the ‘cannabis economy’ in the UK is worth 11 billion UKP a year:

A major new study is being used to advise well known household and high-street companies about the gains and losses they face as cannabis smoking becomes commonplace. Research has revealed that Britain’s ‘cannabis economy’ is worth 5 billion a year in sales alone. Now it has been discovered that a further 6bn of consumer expenditure each year is closely linked to the growing cannabis-users’ market.

‘Young people between 15 and 30 are very trend-conscious and aspirational,’ said Andy Davidson, who commissioned the study for The Research Business International, trend analysts who tracked the spending habits of young people for six months.The study found that cannabis users spend an average of UKP 20 on products that accompany their drug use each time they smoke.

Because smoking cannabis heightens appetite, users are providing a UKP 120 million weekly windfall to a string of takeaway food suppliers, such as Domino and Pizza Hut, and manufacturers of ‘munchie’ products such as Mars bars and Haribo jellies.

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