I’m kinda fascinated with spam (the email kind, not the tasty breakfast meat). I’ve had one or more email accounts since the early days of the Internet and it’s been fascinating to watch how the spammer industry has adjusted to different efforts by email recipients to thwart them.
I’ve recently seen an increase in the number of emails I get (from complete strangers of course) asking me to help them bring some money they’ve acquired into the US through my bank accounts. What gets me though is that they still keep coming. Do people really, still fall for that? Do people really think someone’s going to just give them millions? Are people really that gullible? I think perhaps they are.
In the last year, I’ve received a whole bunch of spam designed to look like the FBI or IRS is trying to give me back some money I’m supposedly owed. I can’t believe people fall for those scams either. The FBI doesn’t have my email address and I know the IRS isn’t emailing me.
What’s funny is watching the spammers as they test their spamming software. I received the following email today:
Oooh, a Bank of America bill payment was cancelled. I’d better do something about that. Actually, I usually get emails from all sorts of banks – ones I don’t have accounts with, so it’s easy to tell which ones are spam. This one happens to ‘be’ from a bank I actually do business with, so it was worth looking into this one. The first thing I noticed was that even though the message was ‘from’ Bank of America, it actually came from a Yahoo address. Yep, times must be tough if BofA has switched to using Yahoo for it’s corporate email. Right!
The next thing I noticed was that there was no body to the email. Interesting. What am I supposed to do here? There’s no content in the email. Nice. I guess the spammer forgot to include the actual body of the email message. How then are they going to get me to do something dangerous – like click an innocuous looking link in the email?
I also love how this particular spammer included a whole bunch of email addresses in the To field. Ya, I’m sure Bank of America’s sending out emails to a bunch of people simultaneously about a cancelled bill payment. What, so we all had the same bill payment scheduled?
Anyway, experience and some common sense makes it really easy to identify spam messages. I know I’m more technical than the everyday person, but how hard is it to tell this is not a valid email? Why do people keep falling for these kinds of things? You’d think by now we’d all be trained on how to avoid scams and spam.
I used to use Qurb to block spam in my email account. I LOVED it. It was essentially a whitelisting tool – it only allowed messages in that were from people I’d emailed or from contacts defined in my address book. It was a perfect solution and I loved it (I know, I already said that). I’d periodically go into my spam box and unblock legitimate emails (the sender would then automatically become whitelisted) and after 30 days, Qurb would delete everything else). Did I mention I loved that particular solution?
Many years CA purchased Qurb and changed it to CA AntiSpam. Not much with the product changed, so I was pretty happy with it for a very long time. I renewed my subscription year after year and was very happy with the product. Unfortunately, CA got greedy and decided the bundle their Antivirus with the Antispam solution. You couldn’t purchase one without the other. I’ve always been a big fan of Norton Antivirus, so I had no interest in acquiring a license to CA Antivirus. For a while, I’d renew anyway and just disable the antivirus, but that became tedious and when I upgraded to a 64-bit version of Windows then later upgraded to Windows 7 the solution stopped working for me anyway, so I gave up. I supposedly have a license for the software that’s compatible with the 64-bit version of Windows 7 I’m running, but I just can’t get it work, so I gave up. Too bad, I really wish I had that product running on this computer.
I have a ‘work’ email account I use for business related email correspondence; it’s connected with my side business, McNelly SoftWorks. I use Thunderbird for that email account and for years was very careful to not post that email address anywhere where strangers could get to it and send me spam. Something interesting happened recently, and I got on one or more spammer’s lists and a good 50% of the email I get to that account is now spam. What happened? Well, I didn’t do anything to put my email address on the spam lists (as far as I know), but one of my old customers was regularly getting virus attacks and during one of them, his virus grabbed my email address and gave it to spammers. I started getting a bunch of spam messages from this particular customer, and a few days later, I began getting 50 or so spam messages a day. I’d never thought of that scenario, and I wish I could do something to get off those spam lists. I don’t want to change the email address; I’ve had that one for a very long time.
Ugh, I don’t know what to do. The Bayesian filtering in Outlook is pretty good, but I still get a bunch of spam I have to mark manually and delete. I wish there was something like Qurb for Thunderbird. Let me know if you know of a solution.
BlackBerry Facebook Application Broken
Tue, May 14th 2013 6:14a John Wargo Something’s up with the latest version of the Facebook app for BlackBerry. Parts of the UI simply don’t work and I don’t know how to let BlackBerry know about it. Apps like TeleNav Navigator have a feedback function which allows you to let them know when something doesn’t work or if you have suggestions for the application. All of the different mobile OS are adding APIs for Twitter, Facebook and so on, why not add a feedback API that allows an app to send customer comments/feedback to th [read] Keywords: application
What Were They Thinking #13 – VZ Navigator
Tue, Apr 30th 2013 10:22a John Wargo While I worked at AT&T, I became a big fan of the TeleNav Navigator application which later became AT&T Navigator. The interface was intuitive and it worked pretty well. When I joined SAP, they gave me a Verizon BlackBerry 9900 and I lost access to the navigation solution I was accustomed to using. On Verizon, they have their own navigation solution called VZ Navigator; here’s what it looks like:
I was using it recently to navigate somewhere and noticed something about th [read] Keywords: application
The Solution to My Domino Server Configuration Problem
Thu, Apr 18th 2013 7:21p John Wargo Thanks to all of you who helped out last week as I struggled to get my IBM Lotus Domino server to accept HTTP PUT and DELETE requests. I posted two articles about my issues, you can access them here:
Domino Server 405 Error
Update on My Domino Server Problems
Essentially, I was building a sample Sencha Touch application for an article series I’m writing for The View (www.eview.com) and the Sencha Touch proxy by default uses different HTTP request types for each of the CRUD operations. T [read] Keywords: domino
Mon, Apr 15th 2013 7:21p John Wargo My publisher told me about a cross-platform mobile framework today called Calatrava (http://calatrava.github.io/). I still need to do some reading about what it really is, but something in the announcement caught my eye:
"Mobile is the oncoming train of the future of computing. For more and more users their mobile device is becoming their first way to reach everything on the Internet. You need to be on-board with this. But there are three platforms to support: iOS, Android and Mobile Web."
I [read] Keywords: mobile
Update on My Domino Server Problems
Sun, Apr 14th 2013 11:18a John Wargo Thanks to all of you who helped out last week trying to help me fix my Domino configuration problem. Tom Verleysen and Michael Dudding suggested creating an Internet Sites document which I thought made sense based upon what I’d read on the Internet but wasn’t sure exactly how to implement it. I followed the instructions I was given (I think) and setup the following:
I updated the server document so it uses internet sites documents:
I now have an Internet Sites document with th [read] Keywords: agent
Domino Server 405 Error
Wed, Apr 10th 2013 7:13a John Wargo I’m trying to wrap up an article series for The View (www.eview.com) on developing Sencha Touch applications for IBM Lotus Domino and ran into a problem that I can’t seem to find a solution for – can you help me out? Please?
I’ve created a simple competitive information database in Notes and exposed it to mobile devices using several methods. I first built a Rhodes application (www.rhomobile.com) that synchronized data with the Domino server and wrote a series of articles about it. You [read] Keywords: domino
PhoneGap Essentials Korean Translation
Mon, Mar 25th 2013 5:14p John Wargo Last week I received a copy of my PhoneGap Essentials which had been translated into Korean (at least I think it’s the Korean translation, I can’t actually be sure – as I don’t read Korean). Here is the book, perhaps you can read it:
Anyway, apparently the book has been licensed for translation into Korean and Traditional Chinese. The Chinese version of the book was supposed to have been published months ago, but I don’t know what happened to it. I’ll receive a copy as s [read] Keywords:
Coolendar - Not Today
Thu, Mar 21st 2013 7:14p John Wargo I was going to write a bit about a cool calendar site called Coolendar, but apparently it's not working right now. I'll try again later. [read] Keywords:
Wi-Fi Only Tablets
Wed, Mar 13th 2013 4:14p John Wargo I’m not quite feeling the benefits of a Wi-Fi only device. Having worked for a device manufacturer then a carrier, I guess I’m a bit spoiled when it comes to connectivity. Over the years I’ve had several tablets, some with cellular connections and some with only Wi-Fi connections.
I have to admit that I find that the Wi-Fi only devices never seem to have connectivity when I need it the most. At home (of course), at most airports and at many national chains (hotels, restaurants, stores), t [read] Keywords: connections
More on Email Message Format for Mobile Devices
Mon, Mar 4th 2013 12:11p John Wargo A few weeks ago I posted an article complaining about how major brands don’t consider mobile email clients when they craft their blast email content. I even showed some examples of poor email content design from American Express and RIM. A reader of the site missed the point of my article and suggested I learn how to use my BlackBerry and enable automatic download of images in the email. Apparently he (or she, not quite sure) skipped reading the article and instead simply saw the screen shots [read] Keywords: blackberry