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There's a day to celebrate the web but there's no day to celebrate spam.
22 September is OneWebDay. US presidential wannabes like John Edwards come out and make official statements. Inventor of the Internet Al Gore is strangely silent. Tim Berners-Lee tells everyone what he sees as concerns and as his hopes. But there's no one celebrating spam.
The world has a lot to be thankful for with Tim's web but it also has a lot to regret with the level of spam ruining the show today. But before or instead of enumerating what's wrong with spam it might be better to at least first decide when spam should be celebrated - to decide what day will become OneSpamDay.
24 May is a good candidate although festivities would have to wait until next year. On this day in 1988 university student Rob Noha started soliciting contributions to his educational fund.
17 January brings the party closer: on this day in 1994 wacko system administrator Clarence Thomas deluged Usenet with his 'Global Alert For All: Jesus is Coming Soon'.
12 April is sort of in the middle. On this day in 1994 'immigration attorneys' Lawrence Canter and Martha Siegel started their 'green card lottery' on Usenet.
|Green Card Lottery 1994 May Be The Last One!|
THE DEADLINE HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED.
The Green Card Lottery is a completely legal program giving away a certain annual allotment of Green Cards to persons born in certain countries. The lottery program was scheduled to continue on a permanent basis. However, recently, Senator Alan J Simpson introduced a bill into the U. S. Congress which could end any future lotteries. THE 1994 LOTTERY IS SCHEDULED TO TAKE PLACE SOON, BUT IT MAY BE THE VERY LAST ONE.
PERSONS BORN IN MOST COUNTRIES QUALIFY, MANY FOR FIRST TIME.
The only countries NOT qualifying are: Mexico; India; P.R. China; Taiwan, Philippines, North Korea, Canada, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland), Jamaica, Domican Republic, El Salvador and Vietnam.
Lottery registration will take place soon. 55,000 Green Cards will be given to those who register correctly. NO JOB IS REQUIRED.
THERE IS A STRICT JUNE DEADLINE. THE TIME TO START IS NOW!!
For FREE information via Email, send request to
Canter & Siegel, Immigration Attorneys
3333 E Camelback Road, Ste 250, Phoenix AZ 85018 USA
firstname.lastname@example.org telephone (602)661-3911 Fax (602) 451-7617
11 May isn't bad either. It's very appropriate. On this day in 1978 Gary Thuerk sent out the first electronic mail spam to 600 people. On what was then known as ARPAnet. A marketing manager for DEC, Thuerk wanted to publicise open houses in Los Angeles and San Mateo where the company's latest computers would be unveiled. It's too much work to send everyone a mail message, Thuerk realised, and so instead sent one mail message to everyone.
26 October has one advantage: it's coming soon. How appropriate is another matter. It was on this day in 2005 that the proprietors of this website got 'busted' for supposedly being a huge spam ring concentrating on selling Viagra to middle age Greek ladies. An attempt was made to confiscate computer equipment but as these Keystone Kops had absolutely no idea what they were doing or why they did not recognise two out of three Apple notebook computers sitting at the same work table.
A white iBook lay right next to an aluminium PowerBook that was open and running - they didn't even see it. What they thought it and the third notebook were is anyone's guess - slim line toasters or designer waffle irons perhaps.
Thus the day is appropriate in one respect: it reminds everyone how inept the powers that be are in defeating spam.
They have no fucking clue.
All of the above dates are good but no one wants to celebrate spam - everyone wants to do away with it. Is that possible? Where does spam come from anyway?
Where Spam Used to Come From
In the golden pre-millennium days of the web spam came mostly through open relays. An open relay is a mail server configured to pass along messages sent to it from any location. An admirable ambition in an ideal world but not a good idea on the Internet anymore. In the old SMTP scheme of things one could drop off a message at practically speaking any server and get it forwarded to its destination. But Internet operators began closing this hole by refusing messages sent from open relays and so the spammers had to think of something else.
The next tack the spammers tried was using open proxies. A proxy is a network service for making indirect connections to other network services; an open proxy is a server that creates connections between any client and any other server and without authentication. Spammers could direct open proxies to connect to mail servers to send spam through. This too worked until network operators again got wise.
Where Spam Comes From Today
Today almost all spam is sent by personal computers running the Microsoft Windows operating systems. This is relatively easy to do and affords a high level of insulation and security. What with the move to higher bandwidth and the dimwitted attitude of most users this makes for a gold mine of opportunities. A botnet of only a few hundred compromised Windows computers can churn out millions of spam messages per day.
And spam isn't used solely or even primarily to sell porn or penis pills anymore - the current Storm botnet has more computing power than the most massive supercomputer - and the people controlling this botnet and others can and do use them for anything they like.
A new twist certain to be seen soon now is DNS hijacking for political purposes: with the immense power openly criminal gangs wield and with the ability to use 'phishing' techniques to disguise alien websites and with the ability to equate a URL with any IP they choose they can effectively hold the world ransom like Dr Evil: either pay the ransom or welcome civil unrest. Or war.
It's Only Microsoft and It's Only Windows
Note that this Armageddon situation pertains almost exclusively to netizens using Microsoft products: other systems such as the BSD family, Linux, and Apple's OS X are basically immune. It's high brow to understand why but it's an incontrovertible fact.
Back in January 2002 Bill Gates apologised to the world for all the 'pain and misery' his software had caused. Great things were promised. Microsoft programmers were sent back to school. New fuzzing techniques were introduced. But none of this can help the fact that - as Sun's cofounder Bill Joy so aptly put it - Windows is a 'standalone' system with no thought for security built in at the ground floor level, no inner barriers, no inner controls - and basically what Microsoft are trying to do - what they have to do - is create 100% flaw free code. For as soon as anything breaks the bad guys are in.
And no one's ever made 100% flaw free code and no one ever will.
This is why people need secure operating systems, multiple inner barriers, multiple inner controls. And there are secure operating systems out there but unfortunately Microsoft's aren't amongst them.
There are several theories about the official founding of Microsoft corporation but the first known reference to the name (spelled 'Micro-Soft' back then) was in a memo from Gates to then partner Paul Allen on this date in 1975. Thus this date is as good a date as any other and especially appropriate as it connects with the IT company responsible for the flood of spam on the Internet today.
How Bad It Really Is
Spam is bad. Not just bad - but bad. It's far worse than anyone can imagine. Hundreds of thousands of Microsoft Windows computers are joining botnets every day. The June 2006 IronPort study found compromised Windows computers responsible for 80% of the 55 billion spam messages sent out daily. Spam - and Windows - are not minor issues. They attack the fabric of the net and the perennial #2 killer app of all time. They make use of the net something questionable - when it instead should be seen as something exclusively positive.
The web revolution is the greatest watershed in the history of homo sapiens since the invention of the printing press and in fact far surpasses it. People are no longer being 'fed' information - there's no more 'pyramidal scheme' for its dissemination: they're sharing it. But to share they must be able to go online without fear. And without hurting others.
Celebrating NoSpamDay would be infinitely better than any of the above but spam won't ever be completely gone. But it can and will be controlled to an absolute and workable minimum: the present course of letting humanitarian Bill Gates continue to cripple the Internet for his own profit is hardly realistic either. Netizens can do two things starting tomorrow.
Stop using Microsoft products. Completely. Unconditionally. Boycott them. And do not collaborate with anyone using Microsoft products. No exceptions.
Practice 'safe computing'. No matter the platform make sure all computers connected to the Internet are infection free and under their owners' control.
Rixstep: Happy OneWebDay