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  1. #1
    Star Lounger E Pericoloso Sporgersi's Avatar
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    Question Junk e-mail: can I retaliate?

    I've never had any doubts when to recognise spam, hoaxes, chain letters, fake virus warnings, address confirmation, phishing, Facebook and Twitter notifications (about my non-existing accounts), birthday cards, casino invitations from India, job offers sent from Brasil (and from my own address), dating propositions from Russia, anatomical enhancement for my nether region, and the list is far from exhausted.

    I rarely see them thanks to K9, a free very efficient spam filter, but still, once in a while something slips through or I have to check my junk folder to recover false positives.

    I've been taking junk mail in stride. But I wonder if actively fighting it might be worthwhile and if so, how to go about it.

    Susan Bradley's link to ipTRACKERonline (Thank you, Susan) gives me a mail's origin and continues with a Whois Query which gives the ISP's E-mail address (OrgAbuseEmail) to report abuse.
    I guess I have to send the junk mail's message source to that OrgAbuseEmail.

    Concluding questions:
    1. Is the method correct?
    2. Does it make sense or is it a waste of time?
    E Pericoloso Sporgersi
    "It is Dangerous to Lean Out! [of Windows]"

  2. #2
    Gold Lounger Roderunner's Avatar
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    To completely end junk mail, the only method I know is to create a new account that has better filtering. Unless you have to many contacts that you would have to give new address to.
    George's PC Specs. / Laptop. Desktop.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator BATcher's Avatar
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    A waste of time, IMHO...
    BATcher

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  4. #4
    2 Star Lounger cyberdiva's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, iptrackeronline may not be all that useful. This morning, there was a message in my mailbox from someone I know who lives a few miles away from me. I know that she is there now, and not in Madrid. But the email message, which came from her address, told a tale of woe about being stranded in Madrid without money yada yada yada. I looked at the full email headers, and the early ones came from Yahoo, which are not the headers that normally appear on her messages. After reading your message in this forum, I put the headers into iptrackeronline and was told what the originating IP address is and the associated email address and where it is located (it said Africa). Unfortunately, the email address they gave was my friend's. She uses Juno for her email. So someone seeing this information might be tempted to write to Juno to complain, since that's at the top of the report and is the only email address provided.

    Someone more knowledgeable might use whois to find out information about the originating IP address, but the only address to report abuse to is to RIPE in the Netherlands, and they've assigned a huge range of IP addresses. I seriously doubt that the spammer is the sole user of the IP address from which the message was sent, and that would be the end of the matter. In other words, as BATcher has put it more succinctly, you'd be wasting your time.

  5. #5
    Bronze Lounger DrWho's Avatar
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    I'm appalled, by how many people are Clueless about email and put their whole name or a good part of it in their email address.
    And then they often use an ISP, like AOL, that is a Spammers and Hackers magnet. MS mail isn't any better.
    An email address should be totally 'non-descript' where it does not point to you in any way.

    At my local ISP I had an address that did not have my name in it, but it was made up of real words, starting with "The". Big mistake!
    I got spam for everything from "TheMasterbater" to "TheBosendorfer". It got ridiculous!
    So I killed off that address and went with "cxp_mst_shatx@xxxxx.xxx" and my problems with spam ended right there.

    Now, I use only GMail, where they have a pretty good Spam Filter, and I can add email addresses to the list of spammers, in the Filters section.
    Those people who refuse to stop sending me, videos, long strings of pictures, dirty jokes, etc., wind up in my spammers list and I see them no more! At least 20 emails a week wind up in the Spam folder at Gmail and never make it down to my computer at all. That's good, because I have a download cap on just how many megabytes I can download, including email, each month.

    Most of those types of spam mentioned in the first post are from countries where they really don't care how much spam is sent to you, so retaliation is futile. There is no-one there that's going to prosecute them anyway.
    And most often, they change their addresses as often as most of us change our socks.

    For safety, you should be using a GOOD AV/AS program (I use AVG) that scans all incoming email for "Malware".

    Good Luck to you!
    Experience is truly the best teacher.

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  6. #6
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    The problem with retaliation against the sender based on IP address is that you are likely to identify three types of victims: the operator of a mail server misconfigured to offer an open relay to anyone on the planet, a home or business user enrolled in a botnet whose PC is spewing spam without their knowledge, and company or university that has a previously undiscovered rogue server operated by an insider or outsider (other than a botherder). It would be great to shut these down, since they are all cases of technical failure or lack of education on the part of the people who should be controlling their devices. But it's not helpful to think of it as "retaliation."

    With respect to email addresses, some of them might actually not be forged. For example, I think some people get paid (very little) to do nothing but create new webmail accounts to blast out spam in the brief window before they are shut down. By the time you write to that person, the message is likely to bounce back, or they just won't care. So this is basically a waste of your time.

    Perhaps a better target than the sender is the sites the spam wants you to visit. There probably are lots of people busy shutting those down who wouldn't mind having spam forwarded to them.

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  8. #7
    Gold Lounger Roderunner's Avatar
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    I use 2 Gmail + 1 AOL addresses. 99% of the time I read & send using Windows Live Mail to which I sign in with a Hotmail Account, (it is deleted after adding my other accounts). This gives me an added layer of protection by WLM filters. The only Spam I get is in tins and tastes lovely with brown sauce.
    George's PC Specs. / Laptop. Desktop.

  9. #8
    Bronze Lounger DrWho's Avatar
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    With the really great Spam Filter in GMail, it's very seldom that I ever get any, but when I do that address is added to my Spam Filter list.

    Lately, I've been getting some 'spam' allegedly from a friend in Ca. and one in Arkansas. Some spambot somewhere is using their address to send out spam.
    Both of those persons have their name in their email address.

    If everybody in the world, would STOP forwarding junk email and block out all addresses when they do send something to more than one person, the whole internet would be a much safer place.
    Never use TO: when sending to more than one person..... always use BCC: for safety.

    Happy Holidays Everyone!

    Experience is truly the best teacher.

    Backup! Backup! Backup! GHOST Rocks!

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  11. #9
    3 Star Lounger midnight's Avatar
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    Would it be okay to say "I'll drink to that!" ??

  12. #10
    5 Star Lounger
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    Over here in the UK I moderate a local Freegle group (similar to Freecycle in the States) and have seen a number of members' email addresses being compromised in that they appear to sending spam. In most cases, a simple change of their email password resolved the issue which would indicate a server side problem rather than malware related.

    It now appears that another major ISP in the UK has been targeted for a brute force attack so I expect a busy week or so ahead!

    http://www.ispreview.co.uk/story/201...-and-spam.html

  13. #11
    New Lounger
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    Whilst it may be satisfying you run the risk of harrasment afterwards. I've heard of a case where the spammer really got a bee in his bonnet, found the phone number, and sent annoying phone calls at all hours just to annoy (& intimidate). Best to ignore & move on. That being said I do enjoy many of the inventive hoax emails & so regularly browse the spam box for a laugh.

  14. #12
    Star Lounger
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    If you make any kind of reply to a spammer, you are only telling them that they have found a live address, which could then get passed on to other spammers. Far better to ignore, and to use a good server based filter (I use MailWasher) to delete the rubbish before it is downloaded.

  15. #13
    New Lounger
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    The spammers send out thousands of e-mails at a time and do not have the time or care about any replies. Also unsubscribe links just lets them know they got a real person. They can also tell when you have opened the message by the graphics that you see or using a one pixel graphic.

    I have a dozen e-mail accounts and so I use MailWasher (mailwasher.net) to filter out any unwanted messages before I check them online or with Thunderbird. With MailWasher you can bounce the message back to the sender (even if it looks like you sent it to yourself) so it looks like it was sent to a bad e-mail address. MailWasher has a training filter to help catch new spam from the same sender. I rarely have it flag a good e-mail. You can also preview the message to double check it.

  16. #14
    Star Lounger E Pericoloso Sporgersi's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Thanks guys for your replies.

    Concerning my questions in my OP, I conclude that trying to take down actual spammers is extremely complex and would require excessively much time and effort for very little result. So I'll just continue to rely on my ISP's server-side filter and my own local K9 anti-spam proxy, which together manage quite well, considering that only two or three spams per week reach my Inbox.

    As for advice on how to limit/avoid spam, I already know almost all the tricks you recommend and even one more.

    If a (shady) site you don't fully trust requires a valid E-mail address before granting your request (download or purchase or forum-subscription), don't hand it over but use 10 Minute Mail instead. There are many more of those mentioned at moreofit.com
    Last edited by E Pericoloso Sporgersi; 2011-12-01 at 02:50.
    E Pericoloso Sporgersi
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  18. #15
    Star Lounger E Pericoloso Sporgersi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrWho View Post
    ...
    Never use TO: when sending to more than one person..... always use BCC: for safety.
    ...
    For fifteen years now I've been telling family, friends and acquaintances to do that.

    And also, before sending them on, to delete address lists in forwarded mails which are eagerly mined for addresses by spam-trojans.

    It's been a fruitless and exasperating effort, except with a very few willing-to-learn people.
    E Pericoloso Sporgersi
    "It is Dangerous to Lean Out! [of Windows]"

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