The online world is having a bit of fun at the expense of the U.S. navy which appears to have allowed computers aboard one of its vessels to be used as a relay for spammers (this usually occurs when spammers plant code aboard the computer in question via a virus, which would then funnel the spam, or, if the computer is not properly configured, just do it without the virus).
The reports came out via anti-spammers who spotted the tell-tale fingerprints in the headers of some spam appearing to originate from the Chinese city of Zhuhai offering to export “electric & gas scooters, which are most popular with our customers at home and abroad”. There is some debate about which vessel it might be, but fingers point at the USS San Antonio, which is due for commissioning some time next year.
Needless to say, lots of opportunities for humour, but it does raise some serious questions about the security of communications aboard such craft. On the other hand, of course, this could all be an elaborate hoax.
A few folk have written in to my column asking how they can fight back at spammers
. Here’s one tale that offers hope. Wired reports the saga
of graphic artist Andy Markley who found himself the victim of a major spammer who sent thousands of spam messages carefully crafted to appear as if they had originated from Markley’s domain. His ISPs didn’t help, so he took matters into his own hands, tracking down the spammer and getting him booted off his ISP.
Read it, and learn that a) your own ISP is usually not your friend and b) think twice before you send angry emails off to people who send you spam. They may have been mugged by a spammer. (Or what I shall call ‘spugged’. Wonder if it catches on?)
If you’re finding that people are accusing you of being a spammer, this may be your answer: your web-based email account. According the Australian Computer Emergency Response Team (AusCERT), spammers could use a form that allows you, the user, to e-mail feedback to the folk running your email service to send spam in your name. Security Wire Digest, a newsletter, quotes AusCERT as saying that “on some sites it’s possible to alter this destination address to anything an attacker wishes. In this way, third-party Web sites can be used to send spam to arbitrary recipients. Many of these sites also allow attackers to specify the body of the e-mail message.”
In short, a bit of a scam. If you think it may be happening to you, check with the people running your webmail service.