The View from Landmark

Trends and issues in personal computing from Bud Stolker, a long-time PC consultant. The View from Landmark features tips and techniques to make time spent with your computer more productive and rewarding, commentary on new personal computer policies and trends, plain-English explanations of new hardware, software, and network designs and their relevance to you, and answers to common questions. There may be personal material interspersed if Bud believes it is of general interest.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Spam count way down from last summer

Isn't anybody spamming any more?

I'm getting maybe 100 spams a day right now. Last summer the count was 14,000 daily. It wasn't so bad -- the spam was totally managed (ask me for details on how to keep clutter away from your in-box) -- but it was remarkable. I could hit "delete all", and by the time the screen refreshed there might be another five or ten spams trapped there.

What has happened?

My guess is that much of the spam was coming from a few sources, and that those spammers have died, been arrested, or moved on. The bulk of it was dictionary attacks* and alphabet attacks**.

Both techniques are utterly ineffective, not to mention inconsiderate; what are the odds, really, of there being a ""?

I believe the spammers were getting scammed by the scammers. The heavily-advertised CDs (like this: offering 10 million, 100 million, even 400 million email addresses consist primarily of garbage addresses. Even the most dedicated spammer must be discouraged, having sent out tens of millions of emails to useless addresses, to get back at best a handful of responses!

Maybe the spammers have graduated into phishing exercises, the current fad. Maybe they're just gearing up for the next big attack. Maybe I've ordered so little in the way of organ enhancers, pharmaceuticals, and mortgage restructuring that they've decided the staff of is a band of cheapskates.

Or maybe I've just been lucky . . . so far.


*dictionary attack: pairing up common names with a known domain name in hopes of hitting a few live targets, e.g.:,

**alphabet attack: random sequences of letters and numbers, e.g.: