Spamming for Dummies

A cautionary tale

Stan has now plunged in the spam industry arms race, trying to stay one step ahead of the antispam groups and companies. Luckily for him, these groups are very vocal about their efforts and even go so far as to publish their latest methods and technologies. The more of this material Stan reads, the better able he is to circumvent their attempts to block his spam.

By this stage Stan has stopped trying to sell jewellery, instead recruiting clients who want to use email as a marketing tool for their own products. With four spam runs a week, Stan is pushing out almost 20 million pieces of spam each week. His spam empire has expanded to the stage where he must outsource some runs to associates he has met in the spam circles.

Using the latest software and technologies, Stan does everything in his power to keep the antispam lobby on their toes. Constantly moving from hosting company to hosting company, routing his spam through innocent third parties with badly-configured email servers and purchasing access to virus infected machines to turn into zombie spamming hosts – Stan is always one step ahead.

Stan has dedicated a server to scanning the Internet for badly-configured email servers, known as open proxies, through which he can anonymously route his spam runs. He has made some influential friends in the virus writer community, known at VXers, who for a price will allow him to bounce his spam email messages through the network of zombie computers their viruses have infected. These are the two methods by which Stan avoids having his servers blacklisted.

More and more creative efforts constantly yield increased results. Each new idea of how best to word his advertising messages increases their response rate noticeably. Stan knows that that a large portion of his emails are being blocked by antispam software, but his response rate is high enough for it not to matter.

The Untouchable

Our mass marketing guru knows of the new laws that will attempt to curb spammers activities. But because all of his email originates on a server in China he feels content that the laws will never touch him or his enterprise.

By now Stan has become quite well-known and respected in the spamming circles, so much so that he has even mentored a few novice spammers – taking them under his wing and teaching them the tricks of the trade. So well-known has his direct marketing company become inside the spam-sending industry that it has been a long time since he worried about advertising his spam-sending services. Clients come knocking on his door now.

The offices Stan works out of are unmarked and nondescript. The antispam lobby are well aware of his activities and they have Stan listed as a major contender in the spam arena. The more spam he becomes responsible for the more his name grows. Occasionally his lawyer will call with another lawsuit but Stan has one thing the antispam lobby lacks and that is a generous source of funds to pay his legal fees.

The story has no ending. Stan continues his activities as a spammer, occasionally becoming the subject of a headline or two in the trade publications. But never does he fail to make a profit from spamming.

Each night, Stan falls asleep in a house paid for by spamming and each night he sleeps the peaceful sleep of one who knows that those who would oppose him can hardly reach him. ®

Mark Anderson is managing director of Hivercon Security, which providea a managed email filtering service called White Mail.

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