Posts Tagged ‘spam’

I get a lot of email. A LOT. Between work and personal emails it is a wonder I find time to do anything other than answer or deal with emails.  All I know is, that on those days when something goes wrong with our email server, there is a lot more work getting done, although the urge to keep checking to see if it is back up and running does cause some stress.

Part of the curse that is email, is dealing with spam and junk emails. If you set your filter too strict you end up missing important emails, and if you don’t use any filtering you end up with so much crap to deal with you will be pulling your hair out.  Of late I’ve noticed an increased amount of utter crap coming in again.  Not sure why, seems to be a cyclical thing every few months, and I have to laugh at the horrific spelling and grammatical errors in the emails and wonder if they ever catch anyone in their webs with these?  Below is a perfect example of what i mean…

greencard

The nice thing is that the spelling and grammar mistakes usually make it easier to spot the spam. (‘appliance’ used when they meant ‘application’ for instance)

Another dead giveaway is the “actual” email address that the email is coming from or directing you to reply to (dontreply@perfectinput.org in the example).  More often than not, you will see a link that when you hover over it you can see the address which rarely matches the supposed subject (witoptions in this case does, but if you google it it doesn’t exist as a company and is fishy enough not to clink the link) and takes you to some ad website that will get you stuck in an endless loop of trying to close popups and pop-unders.  A good idea is to use a domain lookup site like “Whois” and check the domain name to see if it is even valid.  If it’s a real site, there will be info on it.  That doesn’t mean it is a valid website or email, just a better chance that it might be legit.

When spotting spam in the wild, there are tons of common phrases to look for.  Offering pills is big one of late, and I’m sure we’ve all seen at least one from some President of some foreign country offering to send us money if we give our banking info.  Many make vague statements about you and your previous involvement with their company, or offering you something for nothing.  Typically I find it best to toss any suspicious emails without even opening them just by previewing the subject line.  It used to be you could create a list of words to block, but even that is getting tougher since many bots or people substitute other letters or characters for some letters in words to sneak thru.  A bracket ‘(‘ for a capital ‘C’ for instance, or using the number ‘0’ for the letter ‘o’.

Remember, no bank is going to contact you via email and request info, or confirmation of any interactions you’ve had with them, so anything you get from any bank it is best to assume is fraudulent and follow-up with your bank directly.  I’ve even forwarded a few emails to my bank so they are aware and can warn others.

The old adage, “when in doubt throw it out” is never more on point than when dealing with email nowadays.  Thankfully the scammers and spammers are attacking in bulk and hoping they get one response out of the thousands they send out, and as such their attacks are easily spotted with a little vigilance.  Keep your eyes open and be careful what you click on or reply to.

“He is most free from danger, who, even when safe, is on his guard”. (Publilius Syrus)

-barkerp

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Thank you Akismet

Posted: May 3, 2010 in blogging, Wordpress
Tags: , ,

There is one thing that never gets the respect it deserves, that little plug-in in WordPress (and Drupal amongst others) that detects spam for you and throws it into a folder for your review or if you are trusting enough, deletion. Akismet. The name is short for Automattic Kismet and is free for public use in an attempt to reduce and hopefully eliminate comment and trackback spam. (check it out here)

Its a database of spam that all incoming comments are compared against to determine if they are spam.  If they are they get put into your Akismet folder for you to review and determine if anything was caught accidentally and if so, you can mark it as “not spam”.   Its a steadily growing and advancing list of spam that you never have to update yourself, or maintain in any way.  Once its installed, you just have to remember to clear it out once in a while.

Without it, I’d be wading through comments daily trying to determine which are relevant and which are just crap or from bots.   If you have a blog that allows comments you should definitely be using it to help weed out all the advertisements for porn sites and online pharmacies trying to sell you a huge assortment of discount pills.

So, on behalf of myself and a lot of others, thanks.

tcg

I’ve noticed of late that i am getting tons of spam, and not the debateably tasty canned type with the little tab you roll around the outside of the can, but the junk email and fake comments type you get on a website, and it makes me wonder if it means more readership or just more crawlers finding my site?

The anti-spam addon for WordPress “Akismet” has been very good at identifying spam comments on my site, i think its sitting around 99%, and is doing so well that i’m tempted to just let it do all the filtering for me, but i’d hate for it to delete a legitimate comment, so i still wade through them one by one to ensure it has only tagged real spam comments and not just people with poor grammar and spelling mistakes.

Keep the comments coming in, its good to have real people critiquing my blog, instead of just getting ads to download porn, or helping launder money, or some new pyramid scheme, or cheap prescription drugs.

tcg