Do You Hate Spam? Do you get dozens of spams daily?
Is there *anyone* who likes getting spam? I don't think so. Obviously there are
a *lot* of people who like to send spam. How can you fight them? This page is a
collection of information and links I have gathered for the last 3 years for fighting
spam and spammers. No offense to the good people at Hormel Foods Corporation.
The spam I am referring to here is defined as electronic junk mail, unwanted
and unsolicited advertising for a product or service. For a more detailed definition,
see what Webopedia has to say. See Webopedia's article for Getting Rid of Spam
to get started with the fight and read on here for more information.
The most important rule regarding spam is this: DON'T RESPOND TO IT! And by that
I mean don't click on any of the hyperlinks in it ESPECIALLY the link that says "click
here to be removed from our list". When you do that, you have just confirmed to
the spammer that they reached a real person with a valid email address. This only
results in one thing: MORE SPAM.
Other basic rules:
Do not post your email address anywhere on the web. I mean not anywhere,
including forums, guestbooks, websites, newsgroups and so on. There are spam
harvesters, robots, that crawl the web looking for email address. The lists of email
addresses are compiled and sold, usually to companies who want to use them for
only one thing: to send you SPAM.
When you sign up for newsletters, subscriptions, even fun things like joke of the day
and similar, be aware that some companies share and/or sell your email address
sign up there.
If you want to sign up for email subscriptions, again, read the privacy policies.
Some sites also have an option to check or uncheck if you want "special offers"
from their affiliates. If you agree to that option, then be prepared for the onslaught
of commercial advertising emails. If you agreed to it, then it is not really spam.
I know sometimes it is easy to overlook that option and sometimes it is checked by
default, so you have to make the effort to check/uncheck to opt out.
As I said, those are just the basics. I'll get more into detail later.
How big is the spam problem? Spam Statistics:
In 2001 it was estimated that nearly 12 billion email messages would be sent daily.
In 1999 the average internet user received 40 pieces of spam daily. It was
estimated that by the year 2005, that number would reach 2000. A frightening
thought. AOL estimated that spam accounts for over 30% of the emails sent to
their members. That translates to 24 million spams a day! Nearly $2 of their
customers' monthly bills can be attributed to spam. Information was taken from
http://www.anti-spam-software.com/help/statistics.htm. More statistics are
detailed there also.
How does the public feel about spam?
The Harris Interactive Poll® released the results of a survery on January 3, 2003
with the following findings: 80% of the online web users say that they hate spam
and find it very annoying. 74% of those are in favor of making spam illegal. See
see full results of the poll at the Harris Interactive web site.
These statistics made the headlines on many business and tech websites:
Yahoo Finance article
Techweb.com also has statistics about the costs of spam. The cost of spam is
estimated to be $11.9 billion! Outrageous. See the article for the breakdown of
the costs. Check my blog for news on the fight against spam as it happens.
In this commentary on InternetNews.com, Spam Makes Me Mad! Chris Nearney
relates his daily encounters with spam.
Who are the spammers?
Here is one spammer's story: TechTV - Spam Queen "Just Trying To Make a Living"
The Wall Street Journal Online article link on that page is no longer working, but
here is the link to the archived article detailing the interview with her. It's very
interesting how she says she got her database of 100 million email addresses that
she sends spam to. Her story almost makes it sound like a good business, but read
the Talkback postings on TechTV's commentary page about the self - proclaimed
Spam Queen. This lady actually sounds like she has ethics but not all spammers do
in my opinion. Many of them use deceptive practices to perpetuate their business.
The Spamhaus.org website, a great anti-spam resource, maintains a list of known
spam operations ROSKO, which contains the names of spam outfits which have been
kicked off Internet Service Providers 3 times or more. Interesting details are given
including names, aliases, zip codes, the ISP's which have banned them and more.
My friend at Burzurq.com compiled a list of organizations which have sent him spam.
See ShutMeUpOrDown's Spam List which is written tongue-in-cheek and will make
you laugh. He also provides a list of anti-spam resources.
What Can You Do To Fight Spam?
In addition to the basics listed above, there are many ways you can fight spam.
One of my favorite ways is using Spamcop.net. By registering with Spamcop, you
can get an account, free, with an email address to which you forward your spam.
Spamcop analyses it, determines where it really originated from and generates
reports to send the the network administrators of those ISP's. Spamcop also has
a spam filtering program which you can purchase.
The other thing I do is forward every spam I get to the Federal Trade Commission.
They actually want all your spam! Here's their spam page that tells about how
email addresses are harvested and how you can fight it. Forward your spam to
firstname.lastname@example.org. It is added to the database that's used to start law enforcement
action against deceptive spammers. Here's their statement regarding spam.
You need to know how to view the email headers because the headers need to be
sent with the email anytime you report spam to spamcop or the FTC. To view the
email headers in Outlook Express, open the email, click on file, properties, then
details and you will see something like this - (copied and pasted from a spam I got
Received: from mailcity.com (unverified [220.127.116.11]) by "my webhost"
(Rockliffe SMTPRA 4.5.6) with SMTP id (edited out my host name)
Thu, 30 Jan 2003 15:43:32 -0700
Received: from Unknown/Local ([?.?.?.?]) by mailcity.com;
Thu, 30 Jan 2003 22:43:13 -0000
To: "my email address"
Date: Thu, 30 Jan 2003 17:43:13 -0500
From: "akanbi adams" <email@example.com>
X-Mailer: MailCity Service
Organization: Lycos Mail (http://www.mail.lycos.com:80)
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
When you forward spam you received in Outlook Express, you will need to copy and
paste the header information into the email after your set it up to forward it. I don't
use MS Outlook, but I think the procedure is similar there. For Hotmail, to see the
header displayed with the email, click options, mail display settings. By message
headers, check advanced. In Yahoo, at the top right side just above the email,
click where it says "brief headers" to change it to full headers.
In the header above, you will see the "received from" line where it says mailcity.com
(unverified [18.104.22.168]). Those numbers are the sender's IP address. The
IP address can be looked up at the ARIN whois database. Copy and paste the IP
address into the search box and you will see something like this:
Search results for: 22.214.171.124
OrgName: Lycos, Inc.
NetRange: 126.96.36.199 - 188.8.131.52
Parent: NET-209-0-0-0-0 (abbreviated for space saving)
In this example, I believe the email and IP address in the header were accurate; but
that is often not the case. That's where Spamcop is helpful because it deciphers all
the IP addresses, which are often "spoofed" or fake and gets to the actual origin of
There are many other ways you can try to track down spammers but I will talk
about one more and then post links for more resources. If a spam has a hyperlink
to the business selling the product or service being promoted, you can see the
domain name of that business's website by hovering the mouse over the hyperlink
and looking in the lower left hand corner of the window. You will see one like this
which I get spam from regularly:
Now I don't recommending visiting that site because they will get your IP address
and possibly your email address. You can look up the owner of a domain name at:
networksolutions.com's whois search. There may be an abuse-reporting email
address there. I sometimes go one step further and look up the name of the
webhosting company that the site owner is paying for the web space to host the
site. To do this, you need the IP address of the DNS servers for the site, then
look up the IP address which will usually give you the name of the hosting company.
Most all hosting companies have statements in their acceptable use policy against
using their services for spam. Sometimes you can get the spam site owner's
contract terminated for violating the AUP, especially if there are multiple complaints.
The DNS will be numbers (the IP address) or look like this: NS2.CO.MYHOST.NET.
To look that up, iNetCheck has a search box for Nameserver lookup.
Now if you are thinking "I don't have time or the interest to do all that", there's
an easy solution for you called MailWasher. This is freeware which allows you to
see your email before it's downloaded to the server and you can bounce it back to
the spammer which makes it appear that they got in invalid email address.
MailWasher is easy to use and most people love it. Another similar program is
Links for more anti-spam sites and resources
Besides the link above for the ARIN whois lookup, there are other sites for looking
up IP address, if they are in other countries. Sometimes when you look up an IP
address with ARIN, it will say it's a RIPE, APNIC or LACNIC address.
RIPE is the agency that administers European IP's. APNIC administers Asian Pacific IP's.
And LACNIC administers the Latin American and Caribbean IP's.
Tutorial for analysing Email Headers in Spam - very detailed.
CAUCE.org - Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email is a global organization
dedicated to educating about spam and how to fight it.
Spam Abuse.net excellent resources which cover everything about spam and how
to fight it.
SpamCon Foundation - another comprehensive site.
Read about Spam Laws in the United States and other countries.
WhySpamIsBad.com has advice to would be spammers why it does not work.
Spam Recycling Center - another place to send your spam.
UXN Spam Combat comprehensive page for multiple whois lookups.
SpamBattle.com - get your revenge on companies that promote spam.
Spam Tracking 101 - top twelve spammers' tricks and more.