For a while now I’m being pestered by spam – Just like the rest of the world. But only recently I noticed a pattern. And today it happened twice, which prompted this post. There is a pattern to spam which leads me to believe that a lot of my customers either have a virus on their computer or, worse, are part of a botnet.
Here are some examples that are too conveniently timed to be coincidental. I paid attention to these things for a while and think I found 3 scenarios that are very likely to be true.
Infected SMTP settings or whatever
Someone resets their password on this website and gets an email about that. The user then sends me an email about something.
Their domain suggests something a site about health and better living.
What else did I get at the same time? 3 spam emails about health, pills and vitamins.
Conclusion: That person has a virus on their computer sending spam to anyone the user sends legit email to.
Email list crawlers
Someone from a certain country, for example from Poland, buys something on my site and gets emails about that confirming their purchase.
Promptly, within a few days I get spam in Polish. This happens quite often, in many languages but *always* after someone from that country buys something from me. Most commonly Eastern European countries.
Conclusion: The computer is infected with a virus that crawls email lists and sends them to a spam server or sends them by itself via a proxy or something.
Every day for the past 6 months or so around 5pm GMT+1 spam starts to come in, about all subjects. Pills, roof fixing, woodworking, flowers, stock exchanges, hair loss prevention, the list goes on. Typical shit dumb people may fall for.
Conclusion: This is most likely because the persons computer is turned on around that time, every day. Which also activates the virus that is part of a botnet sending spam.
How to fix – It’s easy
Install or update your damn antivirus. Run malware scans and clean that crap up.
Or, better yet, stop clicking every link and attachment you get. Stop clicking banners and stop automatically opening downloads or running every option in those downloads.
Or even better; Stop using Microsoft Windows and start using a OS that is not as susceptible for viruses. Yes, that means using some sort of Linux or Mac OS X. I do recognize that switching from Windows to something else is not all that easy but it’s a somewhat sure fix.
If that’s no option then at least install a f*cking antivirus and firewall and be a more conscious (read: less dumb) user.
Microsoft Windows comes with *FREE* basic protection for that stuff. It’s called Security Essentials. It takes no time to install, runs in the background and doesn’t bother you too much.
Also, since I use it, I know it doesn’t slow down your PC.
Windows also has a Firewall built in, I don’t use that myself so I don’t know how good it is, but at least it’s something. Plus, if you set up your home network properly (without uPNP for example) things get safer already.
There are literally hundreds of cheap(-ish) tools available to protect your PC. Invest some time into it and find a proper one. We all know that Norton and McAfee tools are crap and bogging down your PC more than the viruses but there are good ones, too.
The best one is yourself. Or maybe not, since a lot of you are in fact having viruses. But stop clicking on every link or warning you see and stop going to garbage sites to get your porn, warez and hacked software. Which are the main sources for viruses.
Don’t assume you’re smarter
Because you’re probably not, deal with it. Most of you reading this will think “Hah! dummies, I’m not one of them”. Well, you’re wrong. Most of you use Windows, thus you have a virus or can easily get one. Simple as that.
If you think you are a conscious user you may think “I don’t need antivirus because I never click attachments” then I guarantee you you are infected. You just don’t know it because you don’t have anything to tell you. You Sir/Ma’m are the worst kind!
Even me, I am very conscious about these things. But when I wanted to install a thing on Windows a while ago, despite researching the source and app I was going to install I got a virus from it. With this I mean to say, if a smart guy like me can get viruses that easy then most certainly the average person *will* get them too.
So, if you can get viruses that easy, and even worse, are dumb enough to not notice them or think you won’t get them… Please disconnect from the internet now. It will better the internet in the long run.
The result of your computer usage
As a result of all of the above I have now blacklisted the entire .pl, .kz, .us, .info and a few more TLD in my server. So if you’re in one of those. Sorry, but I won’t get your email. If you write to me about anything related to HARP, healthcare or more of such spammy keywords. Sorry, but I won’t get your email. Mention Paypal in the wrong combination of words and your email won’t reach me either. If you write to me and mention certain Polish, Hungarian or Russian words or phrases. It’s going right to the trash.
And then there are the hundreds of individually blacklisted addresses my spam filter picks up by itself.
You may say; get a better spam filter. Sure, I have a pretty good spamfilter. But why not tackle the problem at the root instead of at the top.
Make the internet a better place
If you’re not sure how to deal with this then perhaps I can help. You can always email me about getting help to make the internet a better place. If things get complicated I can recommend Chi Computers (Dutch site, Owner speaks English) who actually specialises in this stuff.
Yea, I spend too much time trying to weed through spam and I’m getting tired of it. Hence this post 😉