Blog Spammin' Mofos
We all know and love spam. Spam, that insidious, all-pervasive intrusion into our daily lives. It has become such a constant of modern existence that we may as well rank it up there with death and taxes.
There was a time not so long ago when it appeared that greater minds had prevailed and figured out a way to halt the ever-increasing barrage of spam hitting our e-mail inboxes. Corporations got wise to the idea of erecting aggressive firewalls and e-mail filters and soon enough all the free web-based e-mail services were following suit with their own spam counter-measures. Sure there was, and still is, an inconvenient transitional period when legitimate mail from friends and relatives would get flagged as unwelcome solicitations, prompting repeated trips into the Junk folder to sniff out that precious chain mail your buddy so eagerly wants you to see. In the end, we could all agree that despite their flaws, spam filters were a necessary evil, lest me all be drowned in penis enlargement offers and pleas for financial advice from deposed Nigerian kings.
To their credit, spammers the world over have tenacioiusly continued their noble mission to profit from humanity's basest instincts and choke the global network with their crap. They know it's a numbers game and sure enough, I'll have some half-credible piece of spam slip through the gates and into the safe zone. Now I say half-credible because spammers, ever resourceful, seem to have gotten wind of the banks I use, along with other Internet services like PayPal and eBay. Most of these clever fakes try and alert you to something going wrong with your account, whether it be an out-of-date password or a bald-faced warning against fraud and security breaches. Of course the call to action in all these phony notifications is to get you to click some bogus link, which will either trigger a nasty series of trojans to infect your computer or take you to a web page pretending to be PayPal, your bank or what have you, where you will be asked to enter in your password for authentication.
They've gotten a bit more sophisticated haven't they? The golden rule is to always, always, always, DELETE the offending messages. There is no security breach and there is no need for anyone to e-mail you to verify a password.
What really irks me about spammer now is they have mnaged to infiltrate every other sub-sector of the Internet experience. ICQ and other instant messaging programs are prime spam targets. They've even started getting in on the community and personals websites. My Friendster account had been sitting unused and stagnating when I received an e-mail message from a girl out of the blue. I thought, "Wow, I thought I'd scared away every single female in my social network" and eagerly opened the message, hoping to read about how she noticed my profile among the millions posted on the site and wanted to get to know me better. Ah, how I got suckered in there. Well. not completely suckered. The message was obviously a fake... the "girl" wrote some drivel about not having filled in her Friendster profile yet but she has a page on another site (a Geocities page no less) and won't you come by and visit? Bah, the message stunk to high heaven and I prompted deleted it in disgust. Oh and I blocked that user from ever contacting me again, which is an important thing to do too.
And what is the newest frontier for spammers? Well, lately every time I've started a new blog I get a rapid hit of 3 or 4 comments on one of my posts, which naturally gets me excited to think that more than 1 person passes by my in any given month. When I look at these comments, my heart sinks. Blog spam comments typically read something like this: "Hey I love your blog. Wanna buy this? Click here!"
Oh, would you please go somewhere and die?
Thankfully, Blogger has acted quickly to curb this blatant abuse of the comments feature and implemented an optional word authentication test whenever someone tries to publish a comment on one of your posts. The logic behind that is driven by the assumption that most spam is generated by autonomous programs or bots and these things can't read twiggly, wiggly text generated as a graphic. So far, it seems to work pretty well, although it is one more little annoyance to the honest people who just want to write a few words to you.
Spammers, screwing it up everyone one e-mail, website and weblog at a time.