Spam clients outed, credit card details published
You can be Heroes just for one Day
Anti-spam activists have upped the ante in their fight against junk email by publishing the details - including credit card information - of people who've ordered spamming services online.
Activists published details from order forms left on a monumentally insecure spam services Web site (http://188.8.131.52), run by notorious American spammer Robert Soloway, on the newsgroup news.admin.net-abuse.email (NANAE). Names, addresses, phone numbers of seven "would-be spammers" were published on the newsgroup last week. Three of those who ordered a $129 spam run or bulk mailing lists from the site come from the UK, three from the US and one from Germany.
Follow the money
Australian anti-spammer Glenn Barry came across the information while tracking down the source of annoying spam junk email. This led him to the Pakistani Web site.
Barry explained to El Reg his rationale for posting credit card details of people who'd ordered spamming services.
"I found the 'orders' page links which listed the orders insecurely with the full identity and credit card details of the people signing up for spamming runs wide open. I thought I would get them before they could get me with a spam run," he said.
"The information was posted to NANAE to enlist support from other anti spammers to contact these idiot would be spammers and let them know their credit cards and identities had been exposed."
Barry said his actions were not an organised campaign but part of "volunteer efforts of many, many people around the world".
"It's more of a 'neighbourhood watch' than spam police", he added.
We're not spammers, say name and shammed companies
The outed UK clients of the spamming service are Clive Billing of Gloucestershire outfit diamondgeezer.com, Peter Tuffrey of Kent-based consultancy Blueprint Internet Services and Paul Smith of Bedfordshire-based consultancy Dam Design.
Both Dam Design and Blueprint Internet services admitted that company credit cards were used to buy spam services. However both Tuffrey and Smith told us that the purchases were made against company policy by staff who have since been disciplined. Billing was not available for comment.
We understand all those involved have cancelled their credit cards.
It's a similar story over at Dam Design.
Smith, a director at Dam Design, said a member of his team purchased an email list on behalf of client from what they thought was a "legitimate source". [Actually the Pakistani site was promoted through - surprise, surprise - spam itself].
Dam Design is a media communications agency which operates an email marketing service but it has a "strict anti-spam" policy, Smith told us.
"With hindsight I should have vetted the purchase. We should never have bought the list. We're not in the habit of purchasing lists, it was a mistake."
"The person who did this has been reprimanded and has now left the company," he added.
More aggressive anti-spam tactics ahead
Steve Linford, of the Spamhaus Project, a well known anti-spam group not involved in the campaign, noted that UK business purchasing spam services would be guilty of a criminal act under tougher European regulation due to put into UK law by October.
Many spammers' Web sites are fundamentally insecure, so Linford isn't that surprised credit card details were left out into the open. Presented with the same information, Spamhaus would not publish credit card information. However Linford expressed no criticism of the anti-spam activists actions.
Posting information to out spammers "happens occasionally", Linford noted, though the addition of credit card details give the tactic added bite.
Since the information was published on the Net, activists lisuch Gareth Robert Halfacree have picked up the baton, taking Dam Design's Web master to task for his client's action in IM conversations that he published on the NANAE news group, for instance.
According to Glenn Barry, the anti-spammer who got the whole ball rolling, Halfacree is running a more organised "outing UK spammers" forum. ®
Fab O'Really T'shirt at Cash and Carrion
How to deal with Spammers - permanently