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ERNIE CAM

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Now, there's a lot of information swirling around in this fucking rock noggen of mine, so please be forgiving if I jump around a lot. First, we must understand our enemy. Sendicus Spammus Mailalious, or 'Spammer' for short. Contrary to popular belief, those who send spam for a living are actually very smart individuals. Honestly. See they have a two fold mission -- first to gather as many e-mail addresses that can because more addresses equals more potential customers equals more potential money. And secondly, they have to accomplish goal one without getting caught -- this posrtion is actually more difficult then the latter.

"Well Ernie, just how does a spammer get my e-mail address."

That's what  like. Dont be afraid to ask questions! I would say that approximately 80-85% of a spammer's distribution list is acquired by processing and compiling all those e-mail addresses that pile up in chain letters. Now I've said this before and I can say it over and over until I'm blue in the face but there's still some of you out there who just don't fucking get it. So alas, I will say it one more time and try to explain it in great detail in hopes that overwhelming knowledge will get through that thick fucking skull of yours.

First, let's define "chain letter". A chain letter is ANY e-mail that contains instructions to "forward this out to ten of your friends" or "forward this to everyone you know" or anything else of that nature. Who creates chain letters? Now you might want to think that when you get an e-mail telling you there's some sick child with cancer and they will receive $0.03 for every time this e-mail gets forwarded out, in fact the mental image may just tug at your heart strings so bad that you forward it to other news or joke lists that you're on, in hopes of spreading the word and bring hope to this poor kid. Ok, here's the cold hard truth folks. Listen closely. There is no sick kid. There is no company out there willing to give you free clothes. There is no company that is going to give you a free vacation. There is no company out there with a $100 check in their hand waiting for you. The sad truth is, these chain letters are developed by shady fly-by-night internet marketing companies who concoct some big story to get you to play along and send out their chain letter -- they ask you to forward it to your friends and after awhile the e-mail makes it back to them and presto, they've got hundreds of e-mail potential customers and they didn't even have to work for them. You did all the work for them. In the e-mail I got from Princess Dumbass, there were 337 e-mail addreses in the forwarding history. And you know what? The dumb bitch at the bottom of the e-mail had her work address footer on there, including phone number! (See next week's How To post, "Where Do Telemarketers Come From").

Perhaps you hope for better luck, perhaps greater wealth, perhaps just to give an extra $0.03 to some kid who needs kidney dialisis. Maybe you're just looking for a chuckle by sendin an "electronic snowball fight" to a friend. But the fact is the only thing you're bringing on is spam. Chain letters are developed by and for the exclusive use of spammers, in their never ending efforts to cultivate a nice fertile orchard of e-mail addresses with which to send offers of facial hair removal cream, viagra, guarantees for better website hits, stock investments, and yes, even CD's filled with hundreds of thousands of e-mail addresses with which you can send spam to on your own. Chain letters may be fun, may be sad, may make ou laugh, may make you cry. But they ARE false, their only purpose IS to bring you spam.

If my child had really been kidnapped, or if they really needed some operation I couldn't afford, or any other type of sob story, and I really wanted to tell my story to the internet... I'd set up a website. A website -- with its own URL or domain name that doesn't change and that people can look at 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, regardless of where they are or whether or not they're logged into their e-mail. A website that can be advertised on post cards and flyers and bumper stickers and billboards and TV stations. I wouldn't send my story out in a fucking e-mail that can be changed and made incorrect by any swing dick with a text editor, that'd be stupid. Again I say this...ALL chain letters, no matter how grave or desperate sounding are FAKE.

I'll say it again, in its own paragraph for everyone's benefit. ALL chain letters -- happy or sad -- are fake and are used exclusively to feed spam. Without exception. From the ones pleading with you to help some family find their recently abducted baby, to the ten year old dying from lieukemia, to the forward me to ten friends for good luck. These spamming companies use stories they know will tug at our emotions and make us unwilling participants in their mission. You know that "Hello my name is Alfonzo Merkin" anti-chain letter chain letter? Spam. Without exception folks.

Spammers are energy creatures. Don't feed them and they will die.

Now, the other 15-20% of the e-mail addresses spammers collect come from various places. Your web browser (I.E. or Netscape) for example.... during its installation it asks you for your e-mail address, POP server, SMTP server, etc, etc, etc. All of this information that you plug in can be retrieved from any of the websites that you visit, via a snazzy little programming language called Javascript. And it will be completely transparent to you. You won't even know they've recorded your e-mail address, the last ten websites you've visited, your mail server's name, and any other info you happen to have stuck in there. Visit a porno website, and three days later start getting offers in your mailbox for buy two get one free porno flicks. How do you combat this, you might wonder? Well, two ways. First, you could disable Java in your browser. Effective, but then you can't view all the cool (legitimate) stuff that's out there on the web. My advice, is to do what I do -- give incorrect info to your browser -- set the e-mail up as User@Domain.Com or User@NoSpam.com. For those of you who use another package such as Eudora or Outlook as your primary e-mail package, this will not affect you at all. For those of you who do use IE or Netscape as your primary e-mail, quick being a fuckhead -- go to www.eudora.com and download a free copy of Eudora Light.

And here's another great thing -- quit being a checp fuck and go and spend $10 a year and get yourself an e-mail alias. What's an alias? Simple... it's an e-mail address that automatically redirects any mails sent to it, to an address you specify. if your real e-mail address is joeschmoe@home.com ...fine. Go and get e-mail filtering from spamarrest.com. It'll cost you $30 a year for the filtering.

Following these two simple steps -- don't forward any fucking chain letters, and put incorrect info in your web browser -- will help to decrease the amount of new spam that you get. I promise. But, if you're like the rest of any of us, you probably already get some unwanted 'free' offers in the mail -- some spammer already has your e-mail address. What can you do about it?

Well, my advice is to mount a two layer defense, both of which working very closely together. The first is to maintain a list of "known spammers" -- set up mail filters in your e-mail package that says "If FROM address = <Known Spammers List> THEN send to trash." That's what I do. No popups saying "I'm deleting spam now". No replies to the spammer saying "hey take me off your list". No filter reports saying "deleted 16 pieces of spam today." Just poof...gone. Auto-delete. Doesn't even cross my screen. Out of sight, out of mind. And when I get a piece of spam that is from someone new and hence makes it through my filters.... a simple cut and paste of the e-mail address in the FROM field (and also the TO field if the address there is not mine) into my "Known Spammers" list and poof... their e-mail and any subsequent ones they send...gone.

Now, the second part of this may suprise you. Here in the US we've passed some stupid fucking anti-spam law. Let me be the one to tell you that this law has about as much bite as a seventeen year old malnutritioned stray dog with stree legs and has just has the hell beat out of him with a sock full of shit. "per compliance with U.S.C. code blah-blah, simply reply to this e-mail address with blah-blah in the subject and you will receive no further mailings from us." Bullshit. Here's what really happens. Let's say I'm Joe Spammer and I have, eh, let's say five distribution lists that I send offers of facial hair removal cream to. Now I send out my posting to List #1 and you're on it. You get an unsolicited commercial e-mail and you're pissed off and you follow my lame ass instructions to be removed from my lame ass list and send it off. Now assuming for the sake of argument the removal e-mail address really exists (trust me, 90% of the time it doesn't), when I do get your reply now I *know* that I have a valid e-mail address for at least one potential customer. So I , per compliance with U.S.C. Number blah-blah, remove you from List #1. And then turn right around and add you to List #2. See the loophope here folks? As you keep sending removal requests, Joe Spammer just keeps creating new lists...3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 22, however many as it takes. Trust me, you will run out of patience and resources before they do -- many of their tasks are automated. Not to mention you've just demonstrated to Joe Spammer that you read every single piece of e-mail that you get -- a prime target for a spammer. My advice to you? Simply add the FROM field (and again, possibly the TO field) to your "Known Spammers" list, and quietly auto-trash them.

Spammers are energy creatures. Don't feed them and they will die.

And this brings us to the second part to the spammer's mission. Don't get caught. Now, as I've said before spammers are intelligent creatures. Given the fact that technology here in the US, Canada, and Europe has advanced at a faster pace then say, Singapore, I can assure you that most commercial spammers don't send from US based accounts. Let us take a look at this piece of spam that arrived last night...

     >Date: Mon, 2 Aug 1999 18:58:04 -0400 (EDT)
     >From: "Fax Blaster"<fax_blast@mailandnews.com>
     >To: ProfitableFuture@tiac.net
     >Subject: **FREE*-Turn Key Business-*FREE** -TUNF
     >X-Reply-To: "Remove_Me"<remove_me@mailandnews.com>
     >
     >To no longer receive **FREE** Business Opportunities by email
     >simply reply to this message with "remove" in the subject line.
     >*********************************************
     >A Totaly FREE Business Building Package !
     >Our Elite System "WILL" completely automate 100% of your
     >business building efforts by doing all of your PROSPECTING,

Now upon first look, one might look at it and say, "oh this came from mailandnews.com" -- piece of cake. But this is not so... let's look at the additional message headers and see what we can see...

     >Received: from 33345.ural.post.tw (33345.ural.post.tw [99.2.65.223]) by mailnfs0.tiac.net
     >(8.8.8/8.8) with ESMTP id SAA12382; Mon, 2 Aug 1999 18:58:08 -0400 (EDT)

Ah-ha! See the .TW? That's Taiwan. It is not uncommon for me to get spam from Singapore, Cypress, Lavos, Siam, Korea, and Taiwan. Why here? Because these places are technologically "under-developed" -- their network administrators may not have the latest training, their servers may not have the latest security patches applied, and their laws on spam are much more lax. So a spammer can bounce his e-mails off one, two, sometimes three of these 'wide open' servers and do so quite anonymously. Trust me when I say this folks, you will *not* track them down. Let me say this again, you will *not* track them down. That is unless you have a friend who works at the CIA and owes you a big fucking favor. Spammers are intelligent creatures -- you will *not* track them down. Just add them to your "known spammers" list and push on. Do not spend time and energy on spammers.

Spammers are energy creatures. Don't feed them and they will die.

Now there are some of you out there who are, believe it or not, impervious to spam. Anyone with an e-mail address from .ORG or .MIL can be all but guaranteed to be spam free -- spammers actually filter these addresses out most of the time. The .ORG accounts are non profit organizations. Non profit = no money. no money = can't buy anything. Can't buy anything = bad customer. Spammers won't waste your time on you. Now you .MIL folks for it made. Spamming you is a felony and the weasly little spammers know that so they steer clear of you. I also believe that .EDU accounts sit pretty well too, most likely because of the 'poor college kid' syndrom and the .ORG rationalization above. Sure you may get some spam, but nowhere near as the rest of us.

Now, us .COM and .NET people are fucked. See the .COM people are usually at a place of business, which spammers read as , "Hey you're employed, would you love to buy some facial hair removal cream for $8?" And then there are the .NET people, which spammers read as, "Hey you spend $20 a month on internet access, how about some facial hair removal cream for $8?"

You AOL.COM people live in balance on a double edged sword. On the one side, your e-mail addresses are very easy to figure out -- ScreenName@AOL.COM. What spammers will do is go into a chat room, get screen captures of all the people currently in there and then just keep moving on to chat room after chat room, harvesting screen names. I'll guarantee you that whatever screen name you do your most cruising and cybersexing around with, is the one that gets the most amount of spam mail. Now, on the flip side AOL has the feature to reject mail from everyone as default, and only allow mail to be accepted from those you specify. This is extremely effective in combating spam, but also won't let that e-mail through from your long lost high school sweetheart who wants to meet you in Motel 6 for an afternoon romp after having looked you up on switchboard.com. My advice, wanna go into a chat room and get nasty? Use a backup screen name, not your primary one.

The same rules apply to forwarding jokes -- I can't tell you how many times I get joke submissions where I have to page down eighteen times past the e-mail history to actually get to the fucking joke. This is as bad as chain letters -- its a collections of hundreds of e-mail addresses which is going to be a feeding frenzy for spammers. If you get a joke like this and think its funny and want to forward it out, great.... copy the actual joke itself and paste it into a NEW e-mail and then put your little joke list in the BLIND CC (BCC) field so that the e-mail addresses remain hidden. Why do you think my footer says "And strip off that Fwd: FWD: FW:" crap? Why do you think I BCC my joke list and not CC them? Spammers feed off e-mail addresses. Joke forwards, like chain letters, collect many e-mail addresses very quickly.  And what's the cardinal rule?

Spammers are energy creatures. Don't feed them and they will die.

Okay, so I know that's lots of information, so let's review.

Spammer's Missions?

1. Collect e-mail addresses.
     -- Chain letters
        -- ALL chain letters are fake. ALL of them. Without Exception.
        -- Products of sleazy internet marketing companies
        -- Easy way to gather hundreds of e-mail addresses quickly

     -- Web Browser info
        -- Give false information
        -- Use different mail package for primary e-mail

2. Don't get caught
     -- The headers that you origionally see usually aren't really where it originates from
     -- Bounced off several servers internationally
     -- You ain't gonna catch em

Your Defense?

1. Don't send out chain letters
     -- No matter how sincere they sound
     -- ALL chain letters are fake

2. Don't request to be removed from commercial spam
    -- This just verified that your e-mail address is good
    -- They just add you to another list -- never ending

3. Use "Known Spammers" list
    -- LOGIC: if from address = 'known spammers list' then send to trash
    -- Use the HELP to set up a filter, not me
    -- Do not reply

4. Protect those you send e-mails to
    -- Copy and paste the real text of your message into a new e-mail
    -- Leave out the previous forward history
    -- Use the Blind CC field (BCC) to hide their e-mail addresses of those you send to
    -- Use an filtered account, such as spamarest.com

5. if you feel you must do something...use http://spamcop.net to send a spam report to their ISP.

Spammers are energy creatures. Don't feed them and they will die.

No, don't even think of sending me an e-mail and going , "how do I set up mail filters?" -- for specific instructions on how to set up mail filters for whatever mail package you're using, read the fucking manual.

Now, please take this knowledge that I have tried to depart to you and use it. Many of you write in and say, "I'm getting spam mail, can you help me?". I have done all I can...now thew only person who can help you is you. Follow the guidelines that I've explained, stop forwarding out those fucking chain letters, and I'm sure you'll see a marked improvement.

Spammers are energy creatures. Don't feed them and they will die.

Now I have made it very clear to everyone, in this post and in several past -- I've also updated the joke footer and subscription disclaimer. Do NOT send me chain letters.  If you do, I WILL post your e-mail to the list. NO exceptions. I don't care how long you've been a subscriber, whether or not I've seen your tits, whether or not you honestly thought it was true. I don't care. Zero Tolerance. No Exceptions. I've made this VERY clear to everyone, so when you do see your address posted two days after you send me a "free Disney vacation' e-mail, you have no one to blame but yourself. If you have any doubts on whether or not I'll consider a certain post as a spam chain letter -- error on the side of caution. Send it to me cleaned up in a you-to-me only e-mail, and I'll let you know in a me-to-you only e-mail.

And with that, you are smarter having known me.

Ernie, The Spaminator

PS. And you know the funny part? There's going to be at least a dozen of you who will say to yourself, "Wow this is good information, I guess I'd better forward it on to ten friends."

USE THE FUCKING BCC field!

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