Spam problems

I’m having a little trouble with spam comments. Not that they’re getting through, but that the plugin I was using was ALSO blocking replies to posts through ActivityPub. They only take support requests if you have accounts at various forums and I’m kinda grumpy today and that was a bridge too far.

Spam filter bypass

I just got a spam email that made it through Fastmail‘s pretty solid spam filter. Looking at the raw message, they set the From header to the email they were sending to (the “contact” email published on my work website). Fastmail noted a bunch of red flags indicating the email was probably spam, but because the from address was in my address book, they let the email through.

It was one of those “We h4x0r3d your computer and unless you send Bitcoin we will release videos of you masturbating” emails. I assume I’m not the only one who gets those from time to time. I’m not, right?

Didn’t mean to censor the TSA propaganda

Someone (Or, more likely, some script) claiming to be Bob from TSA Blog left a comment on this post. It was a totally useless press release talking about the ineffective things TSA is planning to do about the lost (now found) laptop. Despite the fact that it fits my definition of spam (It wasn’t a response to the post, which “Bob” clearly didn’t read, it was a monologue on the same subject with a link to the author’s blog), I published it. But due to a little snafu with the back button and not paying attention, I accidentally deleted it. So, sorry to censor your spam, TSA Bob. If you post again, I’ll publish it again. But note well that spamming blogs that call out your stupidity and/or incompetence is not going to do a bit of good, and you might be better off finding something more useful to do with your time. Edit to add: Here is the text of the propaganda, stolen from the original Boing Boing post’s comments.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) continues to investigate the circumstances surrounding the loss of a Clear®- owned laptop computer on July 26 that contained unencrypted data of approximately 33,000 customers. TSA has verified that a laptop was discovered by Clear® officials yesterday at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). It was voluntarily surrendered to TSA officials for forensic examination. TSA’s regulatory role in this matter is as follows: Every commercial airport is required to have an approved airport security plan. So Register Traveler is part of that comprehensive plan at the airports where it operates. Under the airport security plan, the sponsoring entity, (SFO in this case) is required to assure its vendors have an approved information security program. Because the computer at SFO was not encrypted it is in violation of the airport’s security plan. TSA also has the ability to go directly to vendors when the plan is not being adhered to so TSA is conducting a broad review of all Registered Traveler providers’ information systems and data security processes to ensure compliance with security regulations. Clear® needs to meet the information security requirements that they agreed to as part of the Register Traveler program before their enrollment privileges will be reinstated. Encryption is the wider issue as opposed to one incident with one laptop. So for now, Clear® enrollments remain curtailed. Current customers will not experience any disruption when using Registered Traveler. Bob TSA EoS Blog Team

The worst part about this is that TSA’s response to this seems to be a stern wag of the finger at the contractor. I feel safer already.

More spam poetry

A 21-YEAR-OLD man has gone missing after a night out in a city centre. Police are searching for Jonathan Jenkins who was last seen in Wind Street in the centre of Swansea last Sunday evening. Mr Jenkins, of Townhill, Swansea, was reported missing some time after he left a city centre pub to have a cigarette. A spokesman for Swansea Police said, ?He was in So Bar, in Wind Street, when he went for a cigarette outside at about 9.30pm, and he has not been seen since.¦ There is safe variant to have cigarettes from here:

This is the text of a spam comment I got on one of my older posts. It also included some links to buy cheap cigarettes online, which I won’t include here. It’s interesting that the spammers are starting to tell little stories about what they’re trying to sell you. This one is topical (More and more states, counties, and countries are banning smoking inside), pertinent (It talks about cigarettes, and then tries to sell them to me!), and slightly incoherent. I’ve never understood why they don’t edit these things. If they had posted this with no grammatical mistakes and only one link, it probably would have gotten through my spam filter. Anyway, just thought I’d share the comment before I deleted it. Here’s another.

Wednesday, 9am – A discarded cigarette caused a car to catch fire in Great Ponton, near Grantham, last night. The owner of the BMW Z3 extinguished the fire with a powder extinguisher by the time firefighters from Grantham arrived on the scene at around 6.15pm. The engine compartment was damaged in the fire. Be careful while smoking! Follow the smoking instruction here:

Now I’ll get some good search hits

I was just looking through my Gmail spam folder, which I do from time to time to see if it caught anything it shouldn’t have. I’m mostly curious – anything that gets caught in there is probably not worth reading anyway. But one email jumped out at me – someone named Zane Gay (Not the author, that’s Grey) sent me an email entitled, “Fondle all her internal nerve endings”. Maybe this guy should be an author, because he’s got a way with the English language, I’ll tell you. Maybe he should be a poet, instead. The rigid constraints of prose could never hold Zane Gay back. I hope someone out there was sitting on his couch, thinking to himself, “Gosh, Jane sure is a great girl. I really want to fondle all her internal nerve endings, but HOW?”. And then he happens to look in his inbox and see this gift from Zane Gay. That’s the way the world should work.

Thanks, Akismet

So, some time this afternoon, Akismet stopped the 10,000th spam comment here at Complaint Hub.  I think we should all take a moment and applaud Akismet’s efforts.  Way to go, Akismet!

levitra, from IP Address, decided to ask, “How add your to reds?”.  That was the comment.  The link to “levitra’s” blog or website was some Ukrainian top level domain name.  I’m sure the site is wonderful and informative.  I imagine they sell cheap pharmaceuticals.

I often wonder why they think that someone will take a comment like that seriously and click on “levitra’s” website to find out more.  And then, once there, do they really expect that people will think, “Oh, while I’m here, I should buy prescription medicine from a foreign country without the advice of my doctor!”

Seriously.  At least I didn’t have to censor the comment for language.

Whats with the spam?

My Akismet spam filter on the comments here at Complaint Hub has been letting me down lately. In general, it has been fantastic. It’s caught about 8,000 spam comments since I started the site, and only caught maybe three or four real posts. But lately it has been holding more and more spam comments in moderation, emailing me and making me tell it that the comment is spam.

Some of what it’s been letting through are quite obviously spam. The latest was a brief message and then forty links to hardcore porn.

I hope this means that Akismet is just nearing the next step in their release cycle, and the spammers are getting better at fooling the filter, but all will be back to normal soon. I hate captchas, and don’t ever want to use one here, so a filter like Akismet is a necessity.

If Dante were writing The Inferno today, what circle of Hell do you think he’d put the spammers into? I’d throw them into the Eighth circle with the panderers (a person who serves or caters to the vulgar passions or plans of others (especially in order to make money [source]). There they would walk in a line, being whipped by demons. That seems appropriate.

The Kennedy Center responds

Finally a response from the Kennedy Center to my complaints.

[Dear Cherished Patron,]

We have manually removed you from our e-mail list. You shouldn’t be receiving any e-mail from us regarding anything aside from shows for which you have purchased tickets. If you do receive anymore unwanted e-mail, please feel free to get in touch with me and I’ll do my best to fix the problem. I apologize for your inconvenience.


[Some dude]

Electronic Media Intern

So, all I had to do was complain to the FTC.  I would have appreciated an explanation of why they thought it was okay to violate the CAN-SPAM act, but maybe that’s too much to ask.  Maybe they could have told me why I had to complain three times before I got a response. 

Well, at least they responded.