Blog Comment Spam – A New Wave

Despite not a single spam comment showing up on any of the blogs I run, the stupid spammers keep trying. I wind up with mountains of the stuff that has been automatically tagged & put in the “spam” folder by Akismet. These days, I don’t even both to check, I just go in and wipe the lot.

Occasionally some spam gets past Akismet as it uses different phrasing and thus winds up in the pending folder for me to review. Usually these are few & far between but this morning I had waves of new ones getting past on all the blog sites. It wasn’t long before these were all tagged as spam by myself and many other people out there using Akismet so very quickly the wave stopped and new ones were being dealt with properly.

How much longer will it be before the ROI for these retards pumping out comment spam gets so low that it’s no longer worth doing? What will they replace it with?

Who knows. Meanwhile, I just live in hope of one day actually getting my hands on one of these frakkers so I can return the care & kindness they’ve shown us :)

Comment Spammers are getting “Sneaky”

I run a few blogs for myself, my business interests and some clients so I get to see a LOT of spam come through the filters. Suffice to say, the idiot Russian spammers keep coming back here and there, but now the latest are what I’m calling the “copy n paste” spammers.

This is where a spammer takes a comment from your blog and tries to repost it (usually against the same entry) in the hopes you’ll think it’s a real comment and allow it through. In the process they include a site URL that gets recorded as a link in your site if their comment gets through.

Yes, it’s the “website promotion” bastards again. These are the folks who say “Pay us some money and we’ll make sure your website gets promoted around the ‘net, gets lots of links and rises up in the search engine results.” The concept is that by having lots & lots of blogs out there pointing back at a site, it makes it look more important to seach engines plus people click through to it from the various blog comments.

First they tried to string fake messages together with random selections of words, but that was pretty easy to spot. Then they tried to make semi-real messages saying how cool your blog and/or blog post was but they got easy to spot when they’d appear against your daily twitter summary post.

So now they’re finding a random comment from a post’s history (remember, this is all done by automated systems) and re-post it so you’ll be suckered into publishing their comment. Nice one!

Of course, the other side effect of this is that on most blogging systems, once you’ve had a message published, your email address is in the clear and you can post any message you want. Hello, the doors are open, come on in and go nuts.

Fortunately most of us have spam filters that help weed these idiots out. Still, makes for an amusing moment or two when I go and check what the filters have dredged up :)

The Russians are Back

Whoever is trying to post Russian spam on the blogs I run must be a bloody idiot. Not a single posting they submit ever sees the light of day ‘cos it all gets caught by the spam-filters my sites run (or, in the case of one, generates a request to moderate as it’s not running a filter).

Most of the other spammers try to embed unique text in their “test” messages to see if they show up at some point in the future. Once they realise they’re being blocked, they tend to go away. Not so these guys.

Oh, sure, after over a month of auto-chucking messages into the black hole of our flters, they disappeared entirely for a month or so. I thought they’d finally figured it out, but no, they’re back and they’re trying it all again.

Talk about your clueless idiots. They’re not just scum of the earth spammers, they’re also stupid.

USA’s CAN-SPAM law a failure

Yahoo’s TechWeb are reporting that compliance with the new CAN-SPAM law has dropped from 3% in April to 0.54% according to MX Logic. The law required that SPAM have verifiable return addresses and valid opt-out capabilities. Indications are that either spammers are no longer complying or that the number of spammers has increased so that the percentage of complying mails is dropping.

The researchers are indicating that the main failure is that the law is not being enforced, which is unfair for multiple reasons, not least of which are:

1) There’s not much chance of getting already overworked law enforcement groups to try to track down spammers, especially when the spam is often bounced from overseas servers.

2) When the law came in, it effectively killed off some state-level laws that were starting to become effective at prosecuting spammers.

3) If you can get through all the confusing text, it appears that at no point does the law actually prevent spamming (many see this as proof that the Direct Marketing Association pulled a lot of influence to ensure that their members could spam).

When you consider that MX Logic found over 84% of all email being sent outside corporate networks is spam, it is clear that the “you CAN still SPAM” law has been good for spammers (business as usual without the risk of prosecution) and also good for the companies that supply email security and spam filtering. As to the rest of us, we’re drowning in it…

Reduced SPAM from Australia

Some of you may have seen an Australian IT article reporting that Australia’s anti-spam laws appear to be having an impact. Spam from Australia has decreased significantly. This is confirmed by Spam Haus.

While it does appear that the laws have driven some Australian based spammers away, I am wondering if there isn’t another variable that’s also impacting things. Back in May/June, BigPond blocked access to TCP/IP port 25 across its network. Unless your computer was talking to one of the BigPond mail servers, you kept getting errors when trying to send emails (business accounts could request that access not be blocked so they could use their own mail servers, etc). This change certainly impacted those staff at my office who were using their personal BigPond accounts when travelling – no more sending mail via our server when out on the road. Ooops…

According to an article in The Register, it is estimated that about 80% of all spam is sent from “zombies”, aka machines that have been infected by the latest viruses/worms, all of which open “back doors” that turn the machines into willing spambots. Given this, I really think that BigPond’s actions may have also contributed to the drop, not just the new law, after all, BigPond were always getting into trouble with the rest of the ‘net because they were seen as a major source of spam from Australia (ranging from not turning them off when found through to actively working with some spammers). They’re also a favourite ISP for many people who are likely targets for “zombification” – eg: home users on broadband connections without firewalls, latest service packs, virus scanners, etc.

To me, this all says that while the new law may be helping, it’s not the sole reason that spam from Australia has dropped off so dramatically. Food for thought.