Re: [OT] Note to aue/AUE/a.u.e., etc.
- From: Peter Moylan <peter@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 22 May 2006 16:46:51 +1000
Maria Conlon wrote:
You know, all of this business with spammers and phishers and viruses
and et cetera is just so disgusting. Why should ordinary users of computers and the Internet have to put up with these things? Why is it even possible to send spam and/or to invade any individual's data/files?
The strangest part of this is that the originator of spam is known.
Sandforth Haynes - commonly known as Spamforth - appears to have been
the first person to come up with the idea of advertising by flooding
Usenet with multiposted messages, and I think he was also the originator
of collecting e-mail addresses from newsgroup messages, and then selling
collections of them on to advertisers. Other people later came up with
more sophisticated approaches, such as using viruses that will turn
their victims' computers into spam machines, but I think it was
Spamforth who set the wheels in motion. I think he made good money from
More recently he has claimed to be a reformed character, devoted to
fighting against spam, but I still wouldn't buy a used car (or a
5-million name CD) from him.
Strangely, references to him appear to have been purged from the Google
archives. All I could find was a single web page, which contained the
sentence "I don't know what Spamforth Haynes is up to these days, but I
suspect that he can no longer appear in public without bodyguards." The
fact that he's disappeared from view suggests to me that he is now
working for a spy agency such as Homeland Security or Google, with the
job of dreaming up new dirty tricks.
Why aren't these intruders catchable? And when caught, why not a penalty like involuntary servitude for life? Or summary execution?
The original reason was that there were no laws against these new
inventions. Subsequently, the main offenders seem to have been either
script kiddies - who are sometimes too young to be prosecuted - or
well-organised gangs who are very good at hiding their tracks. Now and
then offenders are prosecuted, but new spammers seem to pop up a lot
faster than the old ones are removed from circulation. (And often they
aren't put out of circulation. They get a slap on the wrist, a fine
that's much smaller than their profits, and are then let loose to pick
up where they left off.)
Somebody - it might have been Steve Hayes - once posted a pointer in
this newsgroup to a case where a Nigerian scammer was caught. That
operation required the cooperation of the South African and American
police, and a prolonged period of surveillance before just one gang
member could be caught. (Part of the blame for this should be borned by
the US phone regulators, who allow phone companies to set up
international calls with what appear to be local numbers, often with
expensive results for anyone who dials those numbers.) It was a very
expensive operation, and it netted only one person.
The Nigerian scam is a particularly serious one in that the people
running it are well-protected and will apparently stop at nothing.
There has been at least one murder of a person trying to trace them.
Right now, I'm having a problem with a fairly expensive Internet Security bit of software. It's apparently written for experts, not for the ordinary users of such software (to which their marketing is
aimed). I wish I could go into their offices, test the programs and
talk to their programmers/designers, and then write some user-friendly instructions and help files for them. (I used to do just that to earn my paycheck.) They seem to have lost the ability to
communicate with non-geek people. As of about 20 minutes ago, I'm waiting to see if they can answer email (as they don't seem to provide a phone number). Any bets?
That's another serious bug in the software industry. Most companies
will have at least one complete dickhead who screws up every job he is
given, and who can't be sacked for one reason or another. What do you
do with such people? The modern trend, it seems, is to appoint those
people as webmasters, but there are still companies who assign the
no-hopers to write documentation.
If they make it hard to contact them, their technical support is
probably also pretty bad.
Peter Moylan http://www.pmoylan.org
Please note the changed e-mail and web addresses. The domain
eepjm.newcastle.edu.au no longer exists, and I can no longer
reliably receive mail at my newcastle.edu.au addresses.
The optusnet address still has about 3 months of life left.
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