I am, of course, still receiving a kazillion spam messages a day, just like everybody else in the world. While giving that a cursory glance to make sure Akismet hasn’t decided that a legitimate comment is spam, I came across this one (I have, of course, removed the plethora of links that infested the message):
I’m currently being held prisoner by the Russian mafia penis enlargement penis enlargement and being forced to post spam comments on blogs and forum! If you don’t approve this they will kill me. penis enlargement penis enlargement They’re coming back now. vimax vimax Please send help! nitip penis enlargement penis enlargement
You would have to be an idiot to fall for it, but at least it’s kinda funny. I love the idea that some blogger out there actually reads this and starts freaking out about the poor guy who’s in this horrible position, and not only doesn’t dare delete it, but also agonizes over not knowing where that help should be sent. I mean, you know somebody out there is dumb enough to believe it, right?
Katos, pitkästä aikaa tuli suomenkielistä roskapostia! On aina mukavaa, että yrittäjyys kukoistaa näinä taloudellisesti vaikeina aikoinakin. Ja miksei kukoistaisi, kun kerran ratkaisu kaikkiin talousongelmiin kerran on käsillä! Näinikkään:
Etsitkö uuttaa ja jännittävää tapaa saada suuria tuottoja? Jos et ole ennen tutustunut valuuttakauppaan, niin nyt kannattaisi!
[luultavasti virusta pukkaava osoite poistettu]
Valuuttakauppaa! Miten lupaavaa. Hei, kaikki juntit, jotka uskovat, että WinCapitaan menneet rahat tulevat varmasti takaisin, tässä uusi ja kaikin puolin luotettava sijoituskohde!
Sitten kun mä olen biljardööri, mä nauran kaikille teille köyhille, jotka eivät uskoneet, kun email@example.com kaltainen luotettava taho lupasi, että rahaa tulee sisään kohta ovista ja ikkunoista! “Hah hah haa!” Siltä se kuulostaa. Parempi, kun varaudutte siihen jo nyt, niin ei tule niin kovana iskuna.
Ja parastahan on tietenkin se, että joku lihapää tähänkin retkuun menee, ja kovaa. Ja sitten on viirusta koneen täydeltä tai pankkitili tyhjänä. Kannattiko?
Spam time! Been a while.
I’ve been getting a pretty healthy influx of spam, of course, though I’m glad to report that the amount has fallen off quite a bit recently, what with recent developments — it won’t last, but I’ll take what I can get.
Still, I did get hit by a little beaut of a scam. It got my attention mostly by giving off that wonderful stench of bullshit, with a subject line that read “Registration of EU Companies 2008/2009” — something that comes off as just a tiny bit more real than your average Viagra or Russian dating service sales pitch. As it turned out, also a little more malicious; when I dug into the thing a little, it got pretty interesting.
Näin kertoo spämmi, jonka epäilen olevan tavallista nokkelampi viruksenlähetysjekku, otsikolla “Uutinen Suomen ydinsaastumisesta”. Minulle sen lähetti “Susan Lara”; ystävilleni sen lähettivät ainakin “Cheryl Maloney”, “Rae Schmitz”, “Gordon Hess”, “Demetrius Chan” ja “Omar Holliday”. (Demetrius Chan olisi loistava James Bond -pahiksen nimi.) Kaikin puolin luotettavia lähteitä, siis!
Enivei, kamalia uutisia maailmalta, kukaan meistä ei pääse täältä hengissä ulos:
Internetin keskustelupalstoilla kirjoitettiin suuresta räjähdyksestä Suomen ydinvoimalassa Mikkelin tienoilla, joka silminnäkijöiden mukaan on tapahtunut klo 15.
Muun muuassa eräs kaupungin asukas ehti soittaa sukulaisilleen ja sanoi että kaupungissa katketaan puhelinlinjat estääkseen ihmisiä soittamasta muille. Hän väittää että ydinvoimalassa tapahtunut räjähdys oli hyvin voimakas.
Nyt radioaktiivinen pilvi on liikkumassa. Nämä tiedot on vahvistettu hallituksen yksityiskeskustelujen perusteella. Sitäpaitsi paikalliset asukkaat lataavat blogiinsa räjähdyksen seurauksia ja uhrien ruumiita käsitteleviä valokuvia.
Blogi: [geocities-osoite poistettu]
Se, ettei Mikkelin lähellä ole oikeasti ydinvoimalaa ei tietenkään vaikuta asiaan mitenkään. Kyseisellä sivulla on muka joku flashkilke tai muu vastaava, jonka näkemiseen pitää ladata iPIX-install_fi.exe-niminen tiedosto. (IPIX on synsteemi, jonka avulla voidaan tehdä 360 asteen kuvia.) Jätin lataamatta.
Sikäli kun kyseessä todellakin on tavallista nokkelampi viruksenlevitysyritys eikä esimerkiksi ns. goatseylläri, epäilen tämän olevan suhteellisen tehokas tempaus. Sähköpostin ääressä istuva keskivertourpo ei valitettavasti taida olla kauhean kriittinen tällaisten asioiden suhteen, kuten esimerkiksi naurettavan rikkinäisellä suomen kielellä kirjoitetut hiljattaiset pankkikusetusviestit meille näyttivät.
My spam counter officially reached 100 000 spam messages today — as ever, Akismet zaps nearly all of it, with a few very rare exceptions making it through the filter, but those filthy animals still keep trying.
Doing a little looking around, I actually managed to figure out when I installed Akismet. That was on March 21, 2006 — a little over 15 months ago, in other words. That means that since then, I’ve received about 220 pieces of spam per day. That’s a whopper. Considering that in the beginning, I got considerably less than that (though certainly enough to make manual comment clean-up a huge time sink), it’s easy to see that the average amount of spam I get on a daily basis is constantly increasing — for example, I got hit a little under 500 times in the about 24 hours between my last two spam checks. (And in the time it’s taken me to write these two paragraphs, four more spam comments have already crept in.)
A spammer is a filthy beast not fit for human company. He eats away our lives in tiny little bites — sure, I can avoid the spammer’s pointed little teeth and the horrible diseases they carry with relative ease, but it still requires some effort on my part. I’m constantly defending myself from this scum, devoting some of my limited lifespan to making life more difficult for them just so that I can avoid losing even more of my precious hours to these utter shits.
Spammers exist somewhere on the fringes of humanity and subsist on two things — what little money they can leech from people who have no qualms about hiring such utter scum to sell their products and more importantly, people who are stupid enough to believe that they can obtain prestigious college degrees and harder penises and more voluminous ejaculations and “authentic replicas” of brand name watches and free porn and lost Nigerian fortunes and free lunches and quality medication without prescriptions and pictures of Paris Hilton having hot lesbian sex in her jail cell. Among other things.
Most spam messages are wholly nonsensical (“letter format for giving two weeks notice vandorm southwest airline music pete law lily pond by claude monet medline riverfront hotel new orleans not your average joes lawerence curry mozambique animals”, as the most recent one proudly proclaims), designed only to slip through the defenses. This is not advertising in the conventional sense; the spammer is not trying to get anyone interested so much as he’s hoping that the message gets through, if only for a few hours before someone removes it, and that in that time someone clicks on one of the links in it and, perhaps, buys the product or subscribes to the service or calls the number. Nobody who reads this entry is likely to fall for a spammer’s scam, or know anyone who might, but there are enough of those people out there to make spamming profitable.
Nobody on this planet likes spam, or spammers. They are the scum of our society; you’re more likely to find sympathy for a Nazi guard at a concentration camp than a guy who spams mailboxes, which says a great deal not only about our fucked-up priorities but also about how much people dislike spam. When the Russian spam king Vardan Kushnir got whacked a couple of years back for reasons unrelated to his world-class spamming career, not a tear was shed in his behalf by the powers that be. I admit to being hugely disappointed to find that it was apparently just a robbery gone bad. Being killed for money in your own home is a tragedy; being bludgeoned to death for willfully being a lower form of life than bacteria would’ve been justice.
Not that I seriously advocate killing spammers, obviously. But crippling them for life… No. I admit that in my heart of hearts I couldn’t approve of that, either, and yet — yet I must also admit that I can’t help but feel a pure, wild rush of righteous joy at the mere thought of a spammer waking up with a start when a heavy boot splinters in his bedroom door and the vicious, vicious men descend upon him with the merciless truncheons of comeuppance.
41 spam comments were caught by Akismet in the twenty minutes or so it took me to write this entry. Seems that the shitbirds like to hit me in waves.
Comments Off on in excess of 100k
I’m getting more and more spam in the comments here, and at this point, even though Akismet catches just about all of it, I wouldn’t mind cutting down on it just a little bit, because frankly, I’ve got better things to do than check through it just to see if Akismet has been overeager to catch spam and shitcanned legitimate comments — it does that every once in a while.
To this end, I’ve added a captcha on the comments — y’know, one of those “type in what you see in this box in order to leave the comment” things. Based on my own tests, it’s not too much of a pain in the ass, and it seems to work okay. Let me know if it’s hugely fucking annoying and I’ll do something about it.
Edit: Annnd… it does just about nothing. Yowza. Of course, I was already aware that a lot of the spambots can now defeat captcha checks, but I thought it’d at least cut down on the flow of incoming crap a little. No such luck; I installed the thing about an hour ago or so, and I’ve received nearly fifty pieces of spam in that time. Guess I’d better see if I can tweak the settings and find something that trumps the bots’ image recognition and still keeps the text readable by human eyes.
Edit2: Okay, seriously now — it ain’t working. At all. I’ve been hit with at least 300 spam comments since I installed the damn thing earlier today, and I don’t see any evidence it’s cutting down on the spam at all, no matter what fonts, settings or combination thereof I try. It doesn’t do any good and makes things more difficult for legitimate users, so out it goes. My short-lived but otherwise quite awesome experiment has proven that at least the captcha provided by the Cryptographp is about as useful and efficient as a cheesecloth condom.
Okay — I admit it, the spam’s getting pretty good now. A couple of days someone left a comment on one of my entries. He used the nickname Antibush, and this is what he said:
Bush is forever saying that democracies do not invade other countries and start wars. Well, he did just that. He invaded Iraq, started a war, and killed people. What do you think? Is killing thousands of innocent civilians okay when you are doing a little government makeover?
What happened to us, people? When did we become such lemmings?
The more people that the government puts in jails, the safer we are told to think we are. The real terrorists are wherever they are, but they aren’t living in a country with bars on the windows. We are.
Thing is, that kind of applies to the post in question. Sure, it comes off as a short rant by someone with a huge axe to grind and little concern for where he does it, but you can easily see why the post — and the discussion that follows — could attract a comment like that. I glanced at the comment when it came in and didn’t really even think twice about it. But it did feel a little too formulaic, like a little too much of a PLEASE LIKE ME, I BASH BUSH thing, and a couple of days later I took another look at it — and sure enough, the link on his nickname led to some crappy travel website. It was spam. Google immediately revealed the source for the text — it’s actually a greatly compressed version of a blog post by Patricia Ernest.
I caught it, but only after the fact, and only because I have a thoroughly unhealthy interest in this kind of stuff… and, of course, because in the end, you need to link to your product or your spam is pointless. But it was done pretty well, because there was a reasonable connection to the original post, it didn’t follow the spam formula, and most importantly, it was only posted once, whereas the vast majority of the spam messages I get seem to be posted several times, often even in response to the same post. That’s a dead giveaway.
This one was smarter than that. It’d be kind of interesting to know if it was actually planned that way, or if this was just the way this particular crap shoot turned out.
Comments Off on they’re getting better
And it keeps on coming in! The spam I get in my comments here is mostly not a problem at all, because Akismet essentially gets it all. Sometimes something slips through, but that’s so rare that I’m always a little surprised to see something actually ending up visible on the site — if Akismet doesn’t get it, chances are that the moderation filter does.
Spamming is all about brute force — you try to get as much volume as you can and simply saturate internet with your shit. You know perfectly well that there’s no way your average reader falls for it, but there’s always a percentage of suckers out there. That’s your target audience right there. And as people get smarter and filtering methods improve, all you can do is increase volume.
Of course, spammers also try to be sneaky and fool you into thinking that you’re getting real messages from real people. They try this in e-mail by trying to make their e-mails look like a real person is telling you to get a harder erection. This fails miserably, of course, because it’s obvious to even most morons that not only do they not know a “Caleb Cates”, but also that it’s very unlikely that Caleb there would suddenly decide to spout stock tips at them. It’s not how people communicate.
Blog comments, on the other hand, allow for some degree of stealth, because at least in theory, you can leave innocent-looking messages and just paste in a link in the right field, and hope that people click on that link out of curiosity. Especially if you can make it look like someone’s digging you, it’s only natural to assume that people will check out who this nice person is and click on their name in the comment.
But increasing volume and being sneaky doesn’t go hand in hand, and spammers being spammers, they manage to fuck this simple principle up. Case in point:
Bonjour! What a super websight! Very refreshing to peruse from where we live in Paris (France). I eat frogs and drink wine. Woold like more informatons on this. Best regards! Mikael.
Way to be subtle, dorks. I am now convinced that you are indeed a Parisian guy. After all, who else would eat frogs — or drink wine? It’s these convincing little details that bring him to life! Even if this ham-handed approach wasn’t bad enough, though, they go the extra mile and have “Mikael” leave the message not using that name, but “cheap tramdol”. (It’s spelled Tramadol, guys. C’mon, at least try.)
All this might still fly. But then their stupid spam robot leaves this same comment, oh, say, fifty times. And at that point, what’s left of Mikael’s credibility is shot to hell. Even if I was dumb enough to believe that Mikael over there really likes my “super websight” and I am now King Shit, Ruler of the Internet, I hardly think he’s going to say the same thing fifty times.
This is getting to be an increasingly popular form of spam. Here’s another one, very typical of the way they do things. It was from the charmingly named “Info”, who is undoubtedly an avid Star Wreck fan.
Hi I thank you for a wonderful site. You have done very good job.
Well, going through the ego is not a bad approach. Oh, look! They like me! Taken at face value, you could be forgiven for mistaking the one above for a genuine compliment, for example — especially as there’s no link to what they’re selling, because your average spammer is fairly incompetent and can’t be bothered to ensure that they spam bot’s actually working. But even if I wasn’t inclined to check if the links are pointing to some crappy mortgage/herbal viagra/tramadol/poker site and wasn’t a generally suspicious person, I’d undoubtedly realize that something was up when I found twenty of identical messages from “Info”.
Here’s another one that’s a little smarter.
I got the same tramadol attack… well, not the same, because it was only about 20 comments instead of 90, and i didn’t have any filtering set up, and I just deleted them one at a time… hmm.. the only thing really in common was that it was about tramadol… what filter do you have set up that caught them all?
And, of course, the link it left points the user to a site that’s selling Tramadol. But this one seemed a little too coherent to me, so on a whim, I did a little Google search on this one and found that it’s actually a real comment on this post, posted about two years ago. So some spammer either manually chose that comment or his spam bot did it for him, but either way, this comment ended up being the content of a spam message. I’ve seen other messages in the same vein, and they tend to look a lot more convincing — sometimes I actually have to think whether they are related to the post they’re left in response to.
Not for long, though. Sure, this is a little more sophisticated approach than we usually see, but it’s still no problem to spot these comments for what they are. Not only do they have nothing to do with my original posts, but they show up multiple times — if I see something twenty times Akismet spam list, I don’t even have to glance at the link. It’s a little ironic that spammers mostly screw it up for themselves by oversaturating their targets.
And they do oversaturate. I think I’ve spent a total of thirty minutes writing this post, and in that time, I’ve received about 50 pieces of spam. Akismet got ’em all. If they wised up and just sent in one well-camouflaged comment per blog, I think they’d generally get a lot better results. Luckily, spam is all brute force and no guile. It’s not sophisticated or clever.
Not yet, anyway.
I get a lot of comment spam, and most of it is pretty nondescript. Every once in a while, though, it gets a little more interesting — the heartfelt plea below was followed by several links to a single website, linked from phrases such as “Penis Growth Patch Rx” and “Ultra Allure Pheromones”:
I Want to divid with you medicine which rescue the lifes of peoples. These tablets rescued not one groups of ten peoples. If you not don’t care fates of the sick people that, please not deletes this message. This message can read the person who these preparations rescue the life!!!!
Awesome. I’ve seen some broken English before, but this one is a pretty impressive display.
I don’t know. I realize that spamming is a cheap way of advertising in that you don’t actually need to, well, do anything except send out spam — doesn’t cost anything, and if even one dumbass out there decides to go for it, what the hell, you’re already turning a profit, pretty much. But, of course, everyone hates spam and everyone is aware of it, so it’s getting increasingly difficult to accomplish even that. And spam filters are getting to be pretty good, now, so it’s not like much of it is getting through, so the spammers add more and more nonsense to their messages in the hopes of fooling the filters.
Unfortunately for them, this makes the actual messages more and more nonsensical, as evidenced by this message I received — among numerous other pieces of spam, I’m sure you’re shocked to hear! — today, titled “your invited”. Well, of course my invited!
Hello, Ponera homotaxial
That librarian drinks milk.
Call us right now if you would like to make upto 3 grand. wisdomful annoyingly
Those photographers buy juice.
800-217-xxxx lademan senescence
Those managers keep a monkey.
Kind Regards, trilemma
Fidel Kinsella ampullary
I called him George. They set an alarm clock. Jack has already missed working. They get the TV repaired. Pete takes a bath. Cathy has practiced writing.
(I nixed that phone number, obviously, just on the off chance that there’s someone with a terminal case of the stupid out there. I’d like to think that someone wouldn’t be reading Fun Pastimes, but let’s be honest here — the for Stupid Children part just might attract some.)
I’m kind of fascinated by spam, as you can probably tell. Not so much by the spam itself, but by the underlying mechanism of, well, stupidity that the system thrives on. Just this whole “add nonsense to fool the filter” formula they rely on is just so twisted; the more they do that, the less credible they appear and the less effective they become, and the only way they can make up for it is by increasing volume.
I would love to see some kind of reliable statistics on how many people still fall for this crap. I mean, I have no problem believing that there’s someone out there who’s dumb enough to look at the above message, think “Hot dog, I can get up to three grand, and wisdom annoyingly no less!” and call the number. That someone would probably then end up paying for something they don’t want or, if there is any justice in the world, wake up in a bathtub full of ice in a trailer park somewhere with a missing kidney and an ornery sexually transmitted disease that has a voice like James Earl Jones and a hankering for heroin.
I have a hard time believing, however, that idiots like that are that common. I mean, falling for the old Nigerian scheme is one thing — okay, so you’re a fucking moron if you think that a beautiful Nigerian heiress wants to you to go and get fifty million dollars that his dear and departed daddy left in an account in Denmark or something, but at least there’s something there. Likewise, the popular pump-and-dump stock schemes (that apparently work fairly well) are also pretty transparent, but at least I can understand that someone really believes that he’s lucking out when he gets an awesome e-mail stock tip from someone he’s never heard of. Just like I understand that some people believe that a remote healer can cure their cancer or that Uri Geller is a genuine psychic, as opposed to a fucking tired old one-trick pony fraud. Compared to that level of stupidity, believing in spam — a certain type of spam — is really no big stretch of imagination.
Even so, though, surely the text above is just nonsense! Even if you’re fairly dumb and extremely gullible, wouldn’t the fact that you have to work your parser overtime just to pick out the actual advertisement from the bullshit be some kind of a hint? Then again, if you’re very stupid, I guess that could make all reading experiences seem like that. “I don’t understand this shit about monkeys an’ all, but it sez here I can make me three grand so I guess I’ll call ’em.”
I’d love to know if this kind of shit actually works on people, rather than just on some very rare and exceptional individuals. Maybe there is a mass of e-mail enabled people going through their lives in that kind of a confused haze, just waiting to be picked clean. It’s fascinating and scary.