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Hacking the Spammers

By Bob Osgoodby
Posted Wednesday, December 8, 2004

I was talking with someone I know who is a real wiz with computers. He was telling me that if someone is persistent enough, they can basically break into any computer. Our service provider was recently attacked and the hackers placed programs in the system which were disruptive.

Their priorities were to first get the server back up and running. In order to do this, they had to find and remove the disruptive files the hacker had placed on the system. Their next step was to identify how access was gained, and close that doorway. Finally they will make a concerted effort to identify the hacker. If, and when they do identify this person, they intend to prosecute them criminally, and sue them civilly for the damages they caused.

Surprisingly many of the Hackers are kids still in High School taking computer science classes. As an exercise, not approved by their teachers, they create viruses or hack into their friends computers just for fun, and prove that they can do it. Every once in awhile however, it backfires and they create something that doesn't work the way they intended. This can quickly spread and have world-wide implications.

Other Hackers know exactly what they are doing and have a malevolent purpose. These people are sick. Their intention is to hurt others, which they do. These people should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Hacking is something that must be stopped. eCommerce is growing everyday, and the actions of these cultural misfits can cost millions in both money and lost time.

Spammers who send unsolicited ads to thousands by the hour are also a major problem. While admittedly I have a high profile email address, and probably receive more than my share of spam, this can be similarly disruptive to the operation of a business. There is no reason why I should have to sort through several hundred ads to find my email. This is disruption of service and the spammers should be held liable.

Now there are two kinds of spam. At the risk of offending someone, the first is perceived spam. Some "yo-yo" either signs up for something, or requests information, and having a mental lapse, forgets they did. They then complain bitterly when they receive it.

And then there is the "mental giant" that subscribes to a newsletter or ezine under one email address, which is forwarded to their main one, and forgets they did it that way. For security purposes, they have to be using the mail address they subscribed under to be removed, and don't. They find it easier to simply fire off an expletive filled missive to anyone they can identify.

Be aware that there are some people, who hate spam with such a passion, they actually get software that parses a message and automatically sends a complaint to every email address and domain it finds.

Someone had published an article I had written, and since it included my domain name, a complaint was fired off. That is simply not fair. I didn't send the email, it wasn't sent from my account, but I received a warning. The retard who did that apparently doesn't care who they hurt in pursuit of their "holy grail".

But perceived spam is only a very small part of the real problem. I don't mind getting an unsolicited email from a real person. I can always ask them to remove me, and they normally do. A real problem is the spammer who forges an email address, and if you try to respond, your message is returned as undeliverable.

Some ISP's have identified domains the spammers use and it is automatically deleted, so you never see it. In order to combat this, the spammers send it out their scams with a stolen email address that actually exists. I recently received over 6,500 remove requests from people who had received an ad for a sex site, sent out with my return email address someone had used. This is rather a simple matter, and the headers in the email clearly show it didn't come from me. However, the inexperienced would lay the blame squarely on my shoulders. This is identity theft and the perpetrators should be severely punished.

You are especially at risk to a hack attack if you have either a DSL or Cable connection, as you are always connected when your computer is on. Someone could break into your computer and spam to their hearts content using your account. We have our computers networked together, and it requires a password to access the files. While that will protect us from the majority of attacks, a determined effort could gain access.

The best protection the average person can use is a "firewall" which prevents people from accessing their computer. Search engines will quickly reveal where they can be obtained.

Now if we could only get the hackers to concentrate on the spammers, maybe this entire problem would go away.

About the Author
Bob publishes the free weekly "Your Business" Newsletter Visit his Web Site at (http://adv-marketing.com/business) to subscribe. As a bonus, get 40,000 FREE E-Books from Larry Dotson, when you visit (http://www.ldpublishing.com)