6 August 2011

Sanford Wallace Cannot Let Go

Image: spam by Vince_Lamb on Flickr
spam

Who remembers Sanford Wallace?

Exactly, this is the spammer sued by Facebook, which won a $711 million civil judgement against him. But that was not all – owing to a court order Wallace was also under the obligation to forbear from accessing Facebook’s social network.

However, judging from that press release of the United States Department of Justice

Wallace’s abstinence

did not last long.

Upon a two-year investigation by the FBI, he is currently facing criminal charges for having disobeyed the order of the court as he had created a Facebook profile entitled “David Sinful-Saturdays Fredericks” and had maintained it on a regular basis.

Those activities, in the view of the prosecution, constitute acts of

Fraud

in connection with electronic mail and computers pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 1030 and 1037.

The charges are likely to result in the perennial imprisonment of Wallace.

I do not understand why he had to do this.
Was he maybe competing for the King’s Crown?

27 April 2011

Draining The Spam Flood: FBI vs Coreflood Botnet

According to Wikipedia, Computer crime, or cybercrime, refers to any crime that involves a computer and a network, i.e. the Internet.
Since the Internet is a global network and can be accessed anywhere in the world, combating cybercrime has become a real challenge.

Therefore, I must say that I was all the more glad when I read Ars Technica’s report on

FBI’s Beheading Of The Coreflood Botnet

Coreflood is a malicious software used by its controllers to steal online banking credentials from a victim’s computer to loot their financial accounts. This means that the operators of Coreflood have made themselves guilty of several offences penalised by the

Cybercrime Convention

such as computer related fraud and computer related forgery.

The convention has been signed and ratified by the majority of the industrial states, thereby including the USA and the vast members states of the European Union.
The signatory states have undertaken to transpose convention’s catalogue of crimes into their own law.

For instance, the USA have addressed the most of them in the 18 USC § 1028 and I guess that the above acts of the FBI agents grounded thereupon.

However, it has not all been

Sunshine And Roses

The FBI seems to have used a stealth mode to access infected computers in order to remove the malware from them. Consequently, it would be the first time a government agency accessed and automatically removed code from Americans’ computers.

Although I appreciate what FBI did in terms of cyber security, I could never acclaim the government to access my computer, no matter how noble its purpose was.

What about you?

4 March 2011

Worth A King’s Crown

 

Project 365 #2: 020110 Vegetarian e-mailphoto © 2010 Pete | more info (via: Wylio)Obviously, spam is the subject of my today’s blog post.
Spam? What has a King’s crown anyway got to do with it?
Well, I would say “a lot”, but in order to figure it out, you will need to read this one to the end.

Spam is manifold

The most spam messages I have ever received used to be dull, but some were trickier.
Some time ago I described my personal expirience with a rather unusual spam email. It is funny, but that blog post brought me a surprisingly high amount of visitor traffic. On the other hand this is comprehensible, since spam arguably causes one fourth to one third of all traffic on the Internet. It seems I was not the only one to receive  an identical or a similar message to the one I described.
Also, spammers no longer distribute their content merely over e-mail. Comment sections of websites and/or weblogs have emerged to one of their newer field of interest and activity.
For instance, I used to receive some 20-40 spam comments daily on the Reguligence Weblog. The most of them appeared under older articles and this is the reason why I turned off the commenting mode to articles older than 4 weeks.

But why do spammers send spam in the first place?

Spam is an economic factor

As a matter of fact, the average spammer sends out 1,000,000 emails per day. According to the previous source, a spammer would have made $150 in 24 hours, or $4,500 a month. Equally important, the Business Pundit reports that in 2008 a spam botnet called “Storm” made some $3,5 million in pharmaceutical sales having a conversion rate of just 0,000008%…
Not bad, huh? The numbers remain attractive even notwithstanding the legal risk.

Is sending spam legal?

In a nutshell: it is not.
The United States, being the origin of 19,8% of spam messages have introduced their Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM Act). Critics refer to it as You-Can-Spam-Act, alleging it actually allows senders to send spam, provided that they comply with some minor statutory obligations. Nevertheless, the CAN-SPAM Act helped hunting down some villains as  Sanford Wallace.
Although the European Union provided for more rigid rules in its E-Commerce (2000/31/EC) and E-Privacy (2002/58/EC) Directives,  courts within the EU cannot vaunt such examples of judicial success.

Back to the headline

A promise is a promise and now I will reveal why I chose the headline of this article.
Today I read about Robert Soloway, a Spam King, being released after nearly 4 years in prison. While he was active, that guy managed to send the unbelievable amount of 10 trillion spam e-mails, resulting in $20,000-a-day proceeds.

Isn’t  spam indeed worth at least a king’s crown? Your turn.

 

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9 March 2010

Spam

Spam & Baconphoto © 2010 Robert Simmons | more info (via: Wylio)

I guess every Internet and e-mail user has at least once received a spam, scam or any other sort of a junk mail in their inbox. So far, the system admins at my employer have always managed to filter such undesired messages. Yesterday, however, I received an e-mail that has apparently succeeded to overcome the protection designed to restrain it.

It is not the usual marketing spam telling you how to buy cheap watches or to enlarge certain body parts, but rather a scam mocking an urgent situation. The sender pretends to be Marina Encheva and the e-mail reads as follows:

How’s everything on your end? This has had to come in a hurry and it has left me in a devastating state. I travelled to UK for a volunteer Training Program (UTP 2010), unfortunately for me I was robbed and my wallet was taken at the hotel where I lodged. The Embassy only cleared me of my travelling documents and ticketing since I came in on unofficial purposes. I only need to clear the hotel bills before I can leave but ofcourse they stopped billing me since the incident. I didn’t bring my phones here and the hotel telephone lines were disconnected during the robbery, so I have access to only emails. Please can you send me £1370 as early as possible so I can return home. As soon as I get home I would refund it immediately, I need you to get back to me so I can let you know how to send.


I’m looking forward to hearing from you.


Regards,

Marina.

So what – could the well informed Internet user ask – spam should not bother you anymore in these days – do not overestimate it! To an extent that would be fine – I would reply – but there are not only well informed users surfing the net. The average users’ age is said to amount to 28 years and as a result of Web 2.0’s advent more and more minors are entering the net. No doubt, the Internet brings many advantages that oftenly show its bright side, but spam, scam & Co show definitely its dark one.

Spam mails are in the most times misleading or even fraudulent. Hence they have the potential to cause damage to their recipients. Yes, just look at the above spam mail and consider the “professional” drafting skill applied to create it. The most users, I am sure,  would cross-read and then delete such a mail. A certain, maybe small percentage would read it carefully, and then spend some time questioning its authenticity prior to deleting it. An even smaller percentage might consider some support and probably contact the sender with an offer to help. That’s it, that’s how it works. This is what these guys are aiming at.

It is possible that the sender’s e-mail account has been hacked and misused by a wrongdoer. It is however possible that the sender is truly experiencing the described difficulties.

In any case, I will take the risk and have the sender, whoever she or he may be, wait for my reply until the cows come home.

 

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4 November 2009

Facebook wins lawsuit against infamous spammer

Facebook brought suit against Sanford Wallace, a notorious online marketer and spammer, claiming that Wallace and his affiliates created Facebook accounts through which they established a phishing scheme in November 2008.

The suit was based on the so called CAN-SPAM Act (‘‘Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003’’) and Facebook claimed cited 14 million violations to that law and $7.5 billion in damages.

Last week, Facebook eventually prevailed and was awarded damages upwards of $700 million in the District Court in San Jose, California.

Though Facebook may never receive the entire $700 million award, considering Wallace filed bankruptcy, the verdict sends a strong messages to spammers and would-be spammers to stay off social networks.