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asgardian

Under attack?

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..No, no, no, no, NO!!!! You are in the right place! These fora are populated both by the highly technical and the relatively non-technical (in terms of the internet and e-mail). If the information you're being presented is over your head, do not hesitate or be too embarrassed to say so. In my experience, someone comes along (often the person who posted the original technical information) to explain at a less technical level or to offer other resources.

While all that is true, the major problem is that trying to trace a spammer who is forging your domain often ends up, after a great deal of work, with nothing left to do because they don't care what you say. If they did, they would have responded to the first reports of the spam.

I still haven't looked to see what the first responder did (and felt was successful) - and apparently neither did Mr. Lewallen or at least he didn't mention it nor did he ask that person for suggestions on how to proceed. But that is primarily the advice that he needs.

Being a relatively (well, more than that - a technically non-fluent) person in the realm of the internet inner workings, I still hold that my first opinion of asking someone to do the legwork for free (as opposed to trying to learn how to do it yourself) is not nice. Many of the people who frequent this forum make their livings offering consulting services to people like Mr. Lewallen. Those who take time to help amateurs and beginners are extraordinarily generous in offering to teach people how to do it themselves.

Also, while I have never studied how to do a trace route, I have been able to understand the concepts involved in tracking spam and spammers. AFAIK, if your TV picture is noisy, you call a repairman - or learn a few basics (which maybe to Mr. Lewallen seem simple, but to someone else would be just as confusing - some people don't know the difference between a Phillips screwdriver and an Allen wrench and wouldn't be able to even get to whatever is the problem). And when I wanted to understand something (for instance, why there are email bounces), I was able to understand it enough to see what I could do, but then I do know about different types of screwdrivers also even though I rarely need to use them.

Miss Betsy

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spamcop.net,Nov 16 2004, 09:49 PM]Putting the situation in terms more familiar to me, it's something like this: Someone posts a question on an antenna newsgroup saying his TV picture is noisy and what can he do about it. I respond by posting some links to integral equations for calculating antenna self impedance, and tell him how a spectrum analyzer can be used to determine the bandwidth of the television signal. When he expresses confusion about this, I give him a set of tranmission line equations and some information about calculating and measuring receiver noise figure. Now, if I'm actually trying to help, it certainly won't be obvious to the poor guy who posted the question. I probably did impress him with how much we engineers know about such things, and how little he knows in comparison. But he still won't have a clue about why his TV picture is noisy.

Been busy today, still trying to figure out how so many folks picked up the same garbage (or got around to making the call) on the same day. One of those need-to-have applications that brings in 20 other scumware products, that compete to see which one of them can claim more of the system ...

Anyway, back home, sipping some tea, fired up Google to see why the name seemed so familiar. Read some stuff, got some laughs, revisited many, many memories. Read stuff posted in 2003, that I remember dealing with in 1983 from an engineering standpoint, working with it in 1973 at a technician level. Signals Intelligence, Electronic Warfare, Association of Old Crows ... dealing with the intricacies of an HP spectrum analyzer here, but then having only Tektronix equipment there .... antenna length / propagation calculations thrown out the window when some flight line officer idiot decides that the flight-certified antenna package on a helicopter "looks" like blade-strike material, so has the line crew whip out some hacksaws, just prior to a full systems test/demonstration (noting that there's nothing like small piles of metal shavings on a flight line to get some excitement going!).... designing an "automatic" ground-rod driver to go on the front of a 6-ton track vehicle, then being asked to come up with a way to recover those same ground rods as the copper was just too expensive to leave them inserted 8 to 20 feet deep in the ground .... Thanks for the memories, fun reading about stuff I forgot about years ago <g>

If the newsgroup is one normally dealing with highly technical matters, his posting was probably inappropriate. But someone should have extended the courtesy of pointing him to some group more oriented toward consumers, assuming no one wanted to stoop to explaining things on his level.

Beating a bit of a dead horse perhaps, but noting Mike E. is making the same comments to your thread over in the newsgroups ... you started with your address forged into spam e-mail then transitioned to researching host and adjacency connections (in hopes of finding someone who cares about your e-mail address being used this way) ... When I get caught up, I believe I will split this Topic up into separate discussions. The gist is yes, this was supposed to be the "easy" place for questions and answers, the hard core stuff generally left to the newsgroups ... the premise primarily based on this web-based thing being provided for those that couldn't handle NNTP connections.

It looks to me like I'm in the wrong place here, since the assumed knowledge level is way above mine. That would explain why you assumed your postings would be helpful to me, while in fact they weren't. I apologize for coming, and for taking up time which could have been spent helping people who can benefit from your knowledge. I'll get back to the groups where I'm one of the folks who knows the subject matter, and where I can hopefully help others who don't -- and let you get back to helping the folks who are knowledgeable enough to benefit from your postings. I fully agree with your decision not to waste any more time on me.

I appreciate your effort. Thanks for taking it.

Well, again, this is only a volunteer thing, so a lot of other things take precedence. Circumstances have had me elsewhere of late. Curiously, I find it interesting that others that do deal with this type of stuff haven't jumped in to fill in the gaps, but .. perhaps again, because the Topic has shifted from the original subject ... maybe splitting your latter portion out might get others to join in .. but, noting that even Mike E. is having a bit of a struggle over in the newsgroups trying to answer your sliding point of perspective, desires, time and knowledge issues .. and that's unusual for him.

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Curiously, I find it interesting that others that do deal with this type of stuff haven't jumped in to fill in the gaps, but ..

I don't find it curious. He ignored (apparently) the only advice that was given that had any relevance to his problem. And, instead of being grateful for expert advice and direction, he complains about being in over his head and not being able to live up to the standards of the 'experts.'

It is entirely understandable that people should first want to track down spammers and 'hurt' them. Look at the people who are using the 'site hammering' tool. And the exasperated comments of professionals tend to start with 'boil in oil' and escalate.

However, most people quickly realize that, because of the international aspect of the internet, laws are not very practical and cannot be used to 'hurt.' Also, one has to have deep pockets in case the spammer turns out to be like the Buffalo spammer who had $0 plus be able to pay the sleuths and lawyers before the settlement.

They also realize that the nature of the internet is 'mannerly' - that forceful methods do not work well and tend to bounce back. No one has to 'give in' either. "My server, my rules." It takes some ingenuity to manage spam, but if everyone did it the 'mannerly' way of using blocklists, there soon would not be a major problem for most people. Unfortunately, most end users are still in the dark and ISP's are not very good at communicating how spam can be controlled without losing the essential freedom and 'mannerliness' of the internet.

It is that openness of the internet that allows the friendliness of volunteers who help each other to understand how best to use it. It also upsets people unused to 'openness' when strangers are open with their opinions and expertise which sounds blunt and overbearing to them.

But having people who are ignorant of both the practical application of something and consideration of others is not a new phenomenon - Wazoo seems to have plenty of practice in dealing with it which is maybe why he laughs instead of grumping.

Miss Betsy

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Guest art101

I'm bumping this thread up the list. Since posting my original reply, I've received several hundred specific requests for individual help regarding similar spam attacks. I'll do my best to respond, but it may take some time.

Meanwhile, refer to my home page... scroll down to the SpamCop area for information and resources to help you take back your inbox.

http://art101.com

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I did finally visit your home page, but I didn't see any 'radical' new information about how to take back your inbox. Of course, to someone who hasn't paid attention to the spam problem, it would be new. And explains why it didn't help the OP since it does require learning about how email moves around the internet.

However, I approve of the way you handled it - especially the publicity. I hope that possibly since you have gotten lots of inquiries that maybe you can form an advocate organization that lobbies ISPs and makes lots of noise about irresponsible and incompetent providers and how these 'invasion gangs' can be stopped. What the anti-spam movement needs is good pr!

Miss Betsy

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Guest art101

Thanks, Miss B...

You're correct that there's not much really new or radical at my site with regard to the battle against spam. The vast majority of requests I receive for help are from people who are brand spanking new to the problem... mostly small business owners with their own domains who are shocked and desperate when they suddenly find themselves on the receiving end of this sort of attack.

I hope to put together a little 'white paper' PDF eventually - with newbie tips on how to start fighting back. Mostly, I try to assure victims that there is help... and millions of sympathetic ears... that they aren't alone and there are ways to dig through what at first seems to be an impossibly complex electronic assault. Most people buy into the common belief that spammers are nearly impossible to track down. They're genuinely surprised (and pleased) to discover that - with a little detective work using commonly available tools - they can find and nail 'their' spammer.

One of the best newbie resources I've found is the "spam Complaints Primer" at the UXN spam Combat site: http://combat.uxn.com (scroll down to the link in the lower right of the page). It's a good place to start learning how headers work and how to work through them.

As for advocacy, I'm on it. I was an invited guest on the cable TV network "Tech TV" in a special on spam - with a co-author of the utterly flawed "Can spam" act, a representative from the Direct Marketing Association, and Laura Betterly (the so-called "Queen of spam"). When I discovered that MCI and Sprint are major conduits for spammers (see: Spamhaus.org), I canceled my company's long-distance and cell phone accounts with those companies, and wrote letters to their CEOs explaining why. I now host all my sites - and all my client sites - with Webmasters.com (a SpamCop supporter), which, by the way, cut my hosting fees in half while furthering the goal of a spam-free net. I try to put my money where my (big fat) mouth is - heh. I report every byte of spam sent to me and work hard to educate and inspire everyone I come in contact with about the importance of taking back the Internet - the most important advance in human communication since the invention of the printing press.

I'll do more as time and resources permit. My accountant recently pointed out that the time I devote to fighting spam adds up to about $44,000.00 in billable time (so far) that I could have used to do what I really do... design art for print, web, and video. He feels that this time might be lost and wasted in the face of an ever-growing global disease. I disagree. I was dragged into this fight against my will, kicking and screaming, by a thug named Eddy Marin... a convicted cocaine dealer and notorious spammer who got his start on the net by peddling child pornography. He spoofed my domain to peddle pharmaceuticals without a prescription. I don't think one can put a dollar value on stopping a tiny minority of money-grubbing jerks like Eddy, who are wrecking the net for the rest of us.

As for forming an advocate organization, well, it's a great idea and I'd love to help, but I can't take that on by myself. I'm not clever enough, I don't know the technical stuff well enough, and I just don't have the time. I just do what I do as best I can. But if you have any ideas about setting up something like that, I'm all ears. Maybe this needs a new thread? I dragged us off topic from Asgardian's original post. Hope he sorted out the original problem and nailed his spammer.

Further, ever further,

Andy - art101.com

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As for forming an advocate organization, well, it's a great idea and I'd love to help, but I can't take that on by myself. I'm not clever enough, I don't know the technical stuff well enough, and I just don't have the time. I just do what I do as best I can. But if you have any ideas about setting up something like that, I'm all ears. Maybe this needs a new thread?

I just thought that if there were a lot of domain owners coming to you, that 'many hands make light work' - instead of each of you using up many 'billable' hours tracking down spammers, that if you created an organization where each of you contributed some hours that you could do a lot more. For instance, appearing on TV shows, one person cannot always be there at the right time, but if there were several (and an organization the media could contact), then there would always be someone to give 'your' side. You might even be able to raise enough money from members to hire a technical expert who would 'track' the spammers for members and to give you the advice needed to make your points. Also, you would have a network that would point people in the right direction for supporting anti-spam vendors. If you get big enough, you might even be able to have some clout with the upstreams who don't care at this point .

Surely, there are some organizational types among domain owners!

Miss Betsy

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