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Project Honey Pot receives its 1 billionth spam message

Project Honey Pot receives its 1 billionth spam message

Project Honey Pot is a community of tens of thousands of web and email administrators from more than 170 countries around the world who are working together to track online fraud and abuse. The Project has been online since 2004 and each day receives millions of email and comment spam messages which are catalogued and shared with law enforcement and security partners.

On Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 06:20 (GMT) Project Honey Pot received its billionth email spam message. The message, a picture of which is displayed below, was a United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) phishing scam. The spam email was sent by a bot running on a compromised machine in India (122.167.68.1). The spamtrap address to which the message was sent was originally harvested on November 4, 2007 by a particularly nasty harvester (74.53.249.34) that is responsible for 53,022,293 other spam messages that have been received by Project Honey Pot.

image of spam message

Every time Project Honey Pot receives a message it is estimate that another 125,000 are sent to real victims. This one billionth message represents approximately 125 trillion spam messages that have been sent since Project Honey Pot started in 2004.

If you run a website, own a domain, or contribute to an online forum you can join Project Honey Pot and help stop online fraud and abuse today.

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Some recent software experiences

Some recent software experiences

What do we all really want from our software? Well speaking for my self I just want something that works, is that really too much to ask for? Recently I have had two contrasting experiences, firstly I decided it was time to upgrade my anti-virus software. So I read a few reviews and tried out a trial package which came with a computer magazine I subscribe to, and ended up buying a licence for BitDefender Internet Security 2009.

Whilst using the trial package thing seemed to work fine, but having bought a license BitDefender has become somewhat more flaky. Although it has added an anti-spam tool bar to my e-mail client (Thunderbird) it has never actually done anything, done of the buttons on the tool bar work! Fortunately Thunderbird provides its own spam detection and moves most spam messages to a junk folder as soon as they arrive. Then BitDefender went though a phase of telling that every web page I visited was a phishing site, including ones which I had written my self, none of these sites were asking for any personal information. So I thought since I am paying for support I would try their Customer Support Live Assistance, which was frustratingly slow and failed to give any useful answer. So I ended up disabling this feature as I mostly use Firefox which has far more reliable anti-phishing protection built in. Next the automatic update stopped working, having tried the customer support, I decided this time to try the Support Forum, where I found a number of threads complaining of the same problem but no solution other than to carry out manual updates until one of them sorted out the problem. Then BitDefender went through a phase of falling over as soon I went on line taking the firewall with it. Fortunately that has now stopped, but it is not want you want from a security package. So if you are thinking of getting a new antivirus and security suit, not bother buying BitDefender, it’s not worth the money. Whereas Firefox and Thunderbird are excellent value for money (they are free!).

Second recent software experience, having recently seen an upsurge in spam on one of my e-mail accounts, I realised that the contact forms I have been using on this blog and my web site have been compromised. So time to get a new contact form, this time with more robust spam protection, my old system relied on little more than a bit of JavaScript and simply hiding the e-mail address. It was only a matter of time before some nasty person figured a way of getting past this (in this case about four years). So I decided that I wanted something more secure, a PHP solution seemed like a good idea, server side processing away from prying eyes. A quick internet search yielded, Mike Cherim’s GBCF-v3 Secure and Accessible PHP Contact Form (also available as a WordPress plugin).

Now this is the sort of software I like, it is free to download, it works and if you do have a problem you can ask the developer and get a reply. Ok, if you want to make special modifications, say being able to choose more than one e-mail address from the form, he will charge you for making the mod, but then he has already given away the basic form for free and the guy has got to make a living. There is a web site which I am developing at the present where having a contact form where the user can choose from a list of recipients, who to send e-mail to, will be a useful addition. Especially if I can be reasonably confident that this won’t result in the recipients being spammed from the form.

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Junk mail

Junk mail

Despite being signed up to the Mailing Preference Service I still get some junk mail. I got one such item this morning from the Domain Registry of America helpfully pointing out that one of the domain name which I own expires later this year. The letter is laid out to look like a bill, although is does say that it is not, and it requires me to reply a full three months before my registration expires. So I was immediately suspicious, the rate they were offering was more expensive than I am currently paying, so I have no intention of using them. A quick Google search show that I was right to be suspicious this is defiantly a scam. So if you have a web site with your own domain name and you get a letter like this with Registration Services on the outside and Domain Registry of America on the letter head, put it strait in the recycling bucket.

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The Mozilla Manifesto

The Mozilla Manifesto

I have been using Mozilla browsers and other software of some years now, I use the the Firefox browser and the Thunderbird e-mail client on a daily basis. It has always felt somehow right. When I first started to use the internet Mosaic was the web browser of choice, this was soon replaced by Netscape (and for the record in those day I was using Pegasus Mail for e-mail). The reason this Netscape took over from Mosaic is simply that it was a better browser. This was at a time when Bill Gates was telling us that the World Wide Web was just a flash in the pan and wasn’t going to be anything of significance.

It took a couple of years for the Redmond Giant to wake up to their mistake, when they did their response was to try and grab control of the internet. One had the feeling that Internet Explorer and Outlook where more or less rammed down our throats. It became the dominate web browser not because it was better, but because this was what the big corporates decided that we should use. If that sounds like paranoia remember this was the time before broadband when most people only had internet access through their workplace. Most business, even now, don’t really understand the internet and tend to stick to “brands” that have heard of even if it is not in their (or their customers) best interests.

Now we are in the broadband era, people have more choice about how they access the web (and the internet in general) so I am thankful that software such as the Firefox still exists. You only have to look at the Mozilla Manifesto which has been published recently, to see the difference in philosophy between Mozilla (and the open source community generally) and that of certain corporate software giants.

I am not going to layout the whole manifesto here but I think that the principles are worth listing here:

  1. The Internet is an integral part of modern life – a key component in education, communication, collaboration, business, entertainment and society as a whole.
  2. The Internet is a global public resource that must remain open and accessible.
  3. The Internet should enrich the lives of individual human beings.
  4. Individuals’ security on the Internet is fundamental and cannot be treated as optional.
  5. Individuals must have the ability to shape their own experiences on the Internet.
  6. The effectiveness of the Internet as a public resource depends upon interoperability (protocols, data formats, content), innovation and decentralized participation worldwide.
  7. Free and open source software promotes the development of the Internet as a public resource.
  8. Transparent community-based processes promote participation, accountability, and trust.
  9. Commercial involvement in the development of the Internet brings many benefits; a balance between commercial goals and public benefit is critical.
  10. Magnifying the public benefit aspects of the Internet is an important goal, worthy of time, attention and commitment.

So if you haven’t tried Firefox yet, it is fast, it is safe, it is flexible and it is free, why not try it today, what have you got to loose?

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