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Spam and web-visible email addresses
Bait a spammer and see the results
by justin 01:13AM Sunday Feb 17 2002
A while ago, as an experiment, we buried a link in these web pages that would generate a unique email address on a blank page when visited. The reason the link was hidden was to reduce the hit count of the page to manageable proportions, so we could be sure that future email to this unique address could be uniquely matched to the IP address doing the scooping.

On 6.26am the morning of May 13th, 2001, the link is hit from IP 24.1.197.144 - a residential cable modem in Arizona, then on the @home network, now Cox. The browser is identified to the web server as a generic windows 95 version of Netscape. Of course it isn't, its an email harvesting robot that goes from web page to web page.

Within just 8 hours, the first bit of spam arrives: given the short delay the spam was clearly generated by the same person who ran the program to scoop the email address in the first place. With a pro-active ISP abuse department this evidence would be enough to prosecute.. Our email to @home abuse goes un-answered.

Subject: 10 Million Email Addresses, Stealth Mass Mailer & More.. 6601

By the end of the year our poor little unique email address starts to receive almost daily spam. Remember, it was only out there on a single webpage on the whole internet, and a deeply hidden one at that..


2001-05-13 15:11:48 10 Million Email Addresses, Stealth Mass Mailer & More.. 6601
2001-05-24 09:30:20 Make Money While You SLEEP!
2001-07-11 18:55:28 All for the Satisfaction
2001-07-23 21:11:35 Get Paid $54420.00/Month And We'll Do All The Work!
2001-08-01 06:49:41 Investor Alert
2001-08-07 13:26:41 OTCBB Newsletter's Last Three Picks
2001-08-08 18:12:35 Urgent Investor Info
2001-08-22 05:39:35 Major Stock Play
2001-10-05 23:10:09 Forget Video's This is Broadband !
2001-10-17 00:10:49 Collect Your Money!
2001-10-30 08:55:36 fw: - 940
2001-11-02 07:19:49 TIRED OF THE 40 X 40 X 40 PLAN? YOU KNOW: lstta
2001-11-04 14:23:15 1496 Do You Own A Gas Mask? Get One Now... 2418723
2001-11-17 20:21:46 Embroidered Patriotic Items
2001-11-18 19:06:53 Hi 821
2001-11-25 05:37:31 Get a FREE quote !!! -tqkkp
2001-11-25 11:16:25 5648 Would you like 822to lose weight while you sleep? 670617
2001-12-03 09:35:19 7368 Would you like to lose weight while you sleep? 3992134
2001-12-05 20:27:20 5816 Stock Alert For Immediate Release 1872739
2001-12-06 16:24:21 Exciting Stock Set to Explode
2001-12-07 09:57:16 Take the kids 7194
2001-12-07 10:12:06 Incredible Pictures! 21833
2001-12-09 22:54:22 You can earn 45% on your money. OXRFER
2001-12-11 15:24:33 The Unhuman Perversions!!!!!!!!!! 32365
2001-12-12 08:33:37 Body Fat Loss-No hunger pains!
2001-12-12 10:03:53 1776 Stock Alert For Immediate Release 3622259
2001-12-13 06:09:37 Incest Porn!! 28897
2001-12-13 14:33:41 Swim with the dolphins 29546
2001-12-13 16:06:38 DOCUMENT IMAGING-THE WAY OF THE FUTURE!!! 15340
2001-12-14 18:16:14 Increased Emotional Stability
2001-12-15 01:21:45 Animals Like You Have Never Seen....... 12870
2001-12-15 14:06:42 Animals Like You Have Never Seen..... 31502
2001-12-15 16:21:47 FREE FREE FREE 25156
2001-12-17 23:24:56 Grand Prize! 5219
2001-12-18 02:00:55 40 If you don't have idea about Christmas gift, we give you best choos e. 14559
2001-12-18 08:09:57 Cut Your Bills into 1 Low Monthly Payment 23884
2001-12-19 02:43:01 Animal Lovers Go To The Extreme! 10219
2001-12-21 21:13:11 Money Sense! (3412PJbt3-722lFxQ7873k@21)
2001-12-22 06:58:10 $50 BILLION IN COLLEGE FUNDING....
2001-12-22 07:01:09 Underground Mailing Service........ 23136
2001-12-22 14:46:16 Mothers & Sons 15167
2001-12-25 02:56:59 Hi There. 17616
2001-12-25 11:50:56 Government Grants Are For Real!!!!!! 21761
2001-12-26 08:21:02 How To Get Education Aid.....
2001-12-26 23:09:11 50 Million Emails, Tsunami & Stealth Mass Mailers, Bulk Hosting, Maili ng & More.
.
2001-12-26 23:14:59 FURRY NAKED BARNYARD FRIENDS!!!!!!!!!! 31253
2001-12-28 19:00:26 Free Education Aid.
2002-01-07 07:41:16 FWD: What every GOLFER dreams of!!! 23241
2002-01-08 14:04:15 AS SEEN ON TV'S "20/20"!! THE BEST LEGAL MONEY MAKING SYSTEM EVER!!
2002-01-09 03:48:58 Top Secret 18337
2002-01-09 14:16:05 Boost Your Windows Reliability......
2002-01-10 02:19:02 Animal Love..... 20466
2002-01-10 15:25:34 How To Get Education Aid....
2002-01-11 20:31:27 All new! 5244
2002-01-12 01:55:23 FURRY NAKED BARNYARD FRIENDS!!!!!!!! 24110
2002-01-12 03:58:10 HOME`IMAGING-THE ULTIMATE ORGANIZATION...
2002-01-13 00:55:27 2002 Government Grants For You.. 30544
2002-01-13 17:52:27 ALL New Gov Grants Info E-Book................
2002-01-15 12:54:12 Love Like No Other!!!!!!!!!! 16365
2002-01-15 18:12:12 What are you waiting for! 12653
2002-01-16 19:42:30 Check this stock out
2002-01-17 01:56:02 Free professional help and relief from too much debt!
2002-01-17 12:36:27 1440 === Have You Heard of Age Reversal With HGH? === 2218015
2002-01-18 01:57:26 ADV: CONGRATULATIONS!!! YOU WON!!!
2002-01-18 05:42:24 ADV: CONGRATULATIONS!!! YOU WON!!!
2002-01-19 19:11:16 Animal Love....... 6257
2002-01-19 20:56:11 This is not a loan!! 25400
2002-01-21 09:38:29 COLLEGE AID-APPLY NOW & BEAT THE RUSH.... 20577
2002-01-21 13:05:12 Gov Grants Info E-Book.. 3209
2002-01-21 14:32:12 Incredible Pictures!! 22538
2002-01-22 11:59:23 Hot Pick 572819141198765
2002-01-22 13:44:43 Website Programmers Available Now!
2002-01-23 23:39:57 Custom Software Services..
2002-01-24 05:41:33 Do you want to go out tonight?
2002-01-28 07:33:00 I found the key to REAL weight loss
2002-01-28 13:57:21 FILE IMP DOCUMENTS ON YOUR COMPUTER.... 31773
2002-01-29 13:24:42 FURRY NAKED BARNYARD FRIENDS!!!! 7409
2002-01-30 18:27:19 FREE EDUCATION AID! DON'T GET LEFT OUT!!!! 8886
2002-01-31 04:12:17 TURN $55 INTO $1770+ PER MONTH...!
2002-01-31 06:06:20 Protect your family by knowing the facts!!!! 4916
2002-01-31 23:09:29 This Stock WILL FLY
2002-02-01 03:12:32 Terminate Credit Card Debt! NOT Bankruptcy! 12183
2002-02-01 05:45:28 Stock Tip of The day! 3015107654333222
2002-02-01 21:30:32 Hot Girls And Wild Horses!!!!!!!! 12619
2002-02-01 23:15:44 I woke up from my obesity nightmare
2002-02-03 01:15:37 This Software Works To Improve The Fault Tolerance of Windows... 27120
2002-02-03 08:33:36 Incredible Pictures!!!!!! 30651
2002-02-03 12:09:51 Boost Your Windows Reliability........
2002-02-04 03:11:35 Cash in on your home equity
2002-02-06 20:30:58 GOV GRANTS, NEVER REPAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 22043
2002-02-06 22:09:51 Let's Look At This Family!!! 28352
2002-02-07 00:18:57 Hot OTC Stock 58291914119
2002-02-07 19:34:05 SUPERVISORS-GET THE MOST FROM YOUR STAFF!!!!! 14287
2002-02-08 04:21:59 Our Newest Gainer 31151076543332222211111
2002-02-11 08:25:09 Clean Up Your Debt with Fast Cash!
2002-02-12 20:43:12 How can this be? 12684
2002-02-14 07:13:22 Boost Your Windows Reliability!!!!!!!!!!
2002-02-16 23:57:26 CONGRATULATIONS!-You Get 2 Free Airline Tickets



The spam arrives courtesy open mail relays from all over the world:
.kr, .cn, .my, .be, ,ru, .de, .se, .mx, .tw ..
The open mail relays will conveniently handle the bandwidth intensive job of turning one message into millions.. while the original spammer hides relatively safely behind a throw-away dialup account (but we know where the trouble started from our web hit log).

Given the regularity of the spam, the similarity of the headers, and a rather obvious "spam free holiday" over new year, it is probable that the original email scooper/spammer was behind the whole lot - he/she is probably being paid to spam for the products and companies within the spam emails, and doing his own work locating of open mail relays and email address scooping.

With open mail relays, lists of 30 million email addresses, and a cable modem, it only takes a handful of professional spammers (such as this one) to deposit 10 or more daily pieces of spam into the mailbox of practically every frequent user of the net..

Someone in the (now Cox) cable department could match the customer and the IP/timestamp above, and prosecute the spammer.., but it is unlikely they will take an interest in the case.. after all - if the spammer is using someone elses mail relay, its someone elses problem, right?

Should authorities be serious about fighting spam, then setting up a more comprehensive spam "bait" system such as this (essentially a sting operation) would make the life of a fulltime spam artist a lot more risky than it currently is.


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