PDA

View Full Version : Blue Frog eats spam!



zebo-the-fat
2006-Mar-27, 10:43 PM
I just found this anti-spam system http://www.bluesecurity.com/blue-frog . It can install as an extension to Firefox and automaticaly reports spam from web mail (Gmail etc.) It can also work with Outlook, Outlook Express etc. but that seems to need more manual input.
I only installed it today so I will have to wait to see if the constant offers of breast enlargement (don't need it!) and Viagra (none of your business!) reduce.
Has anyone else used it and does it work as well as they claim?

01101001
2006-Mar-27, 11:33 PM
Boston Globe: Spam block has its own ethical issues (page 2) (http://www.boston.com/business/technology/articles/2005/07/25/spam_block_has_its_own_ethical_issues/?page=2)


It sounds deliciously nasty. But in the view of expert spam warriors, it's a lousy idea, and perhaps even illegal. ''How the heck he got funding for this is a mystery to me," said Anne Mitchell, CEO of the Institute for Spam and Internet Public Policy.

For one thing, there's the risk of sending complaints to legitimate e-mailers, like banks or travel services. When a traditional spam filter makes a mistake, people don't get their credit card bills. If Blue Frog screws up, an honest company's website could be crushed under a landslide of gripes, and Blue Frog gets clobbered with a lawsuit.

In an interview with the Associated Press, spam-fighter John Levine, of the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail, called Blue Frog ''the worst kind of vigilante approach."

WaxRubiks
2006-Mar-27, 11:52 PM
silly name anyway.

Lance
2006-Mar-28, 08:10 PM
Those complaints indicate to me that this may actually work. I am certainly going to give it a try.

And for what it's worth, I don't feel a legitimate business has any more right to spam than any other business does.

I just got an email from "Big-Legit Office Supply" this morning with a subject line of: "ALERT: Save $30 this week only - Coupon Enclosed". If that doesn't sound like spam, I don't know what does. And even though it was from a big brick-and-mortar company, I don't do business with them. It was UCE just as much as ads for body-part-enhancement pills are.

GDwarf
2006-Mar-28, 09:41 PM
I'm debating getting this, on the one hand it seems like an incredibly easy way for blue frog to DDoS anyone they don't like... With my permission. On the other hand, I don't really see how else to stop spam.

Edit: And, after looking up the online controversy, I'm even more undecided.

If it is truley only used for spam e-mails, then I think it's fair, It would simply be like everyone on a spammer's list actually going to the site and buying the stuff, which, if it wasn't spam, most of them would probably do.

However, the potential for abuse seems very strong.

01101001
2006-Mar-28, 09:51 PM
Those complaints indicate to me that this may actually work. I am certainly going to give it a try.

I hope nobody ever joe-jobs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_job) you and puts your site into what appears to Blue Frog as spam.


And for what it's worth, I don't feel a legitimate business has any more right to spam than any other business does.

Of course, but if Blue Frog identifies legitimate mail as spam, then the senders still get attacked.

When the spam fighters criticize a method, be very wary. CAUCE (http://www.cauce.org/) and the Institute for Spam and Internet Policy (http://www.isipp.com/) are on our side.

Lance
2006-Mar-28, 10:28 PM
Maybe I am misunderstanding how this works then. It looked to me like actual humans decided when someone was being noncompliant, and it took more that just a couple of reports on only one occasion before action is taken.

GDwarf
2006-Mar-28, 10:48 PM
Maybe I am misunderstanding how this works then. It looked to me like actual humans decided when someone was being noncompliant, and it took more that just a couple of reports on only one occasion before action is taken.
Or so they say. However, that still leaves it open to abuse, and if they get enough members they'll have to use an automatic system.

Let me put it this way: This is the exact same tactic used by many hackers to damage websites, and if Blue Frog doesn't like someone, they can launch a DDoS attack, which is illegal in the states and most of Europe.

Lance
2006-Mar-28, 11:10 PM
My my...

Lots of ideas have potential for abuse, but like everything else around here, I am not going to judge this as bad without evidence.

HenrikOlsen
2006-Mar-30, 05:03 PM
Being a mailserver admin who's had to handle the fallout after multiple cases where legitimate servers have been listed in spam mail, I have to say it sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, and it's going to happen to completely innocent third parties.

I have to admit I'm also turned off immediately by their website, which is a blank screen until javascript is turned on. This indicates a disagreement on fundamental values between them and me.

Lance
2006-Mar-30, 05:12 PM
It seems that some people here are under the mistaken impression that the Blue Frog software "mail bombs" web sites. That is not the case. This is taken directly from the Blue Frog FAQ (http://members.bluesecurity.com/cwa/faq.do#q11):


Does the Blue Frog send email back to spammers?

No.
Blue Frog posts opt out requests by browsing the web site advertized by spam and filling web site forms it contains.

farmerjumperdon
2006-Mar-30, 05:30 PM
Legitimate or not, if someone sends me unsolicited mail, I have the right to reply. And if I reply 10,000 times - too bad so sad. Just like regular post office mail. (I once returned a recruiting card to the US Army - attached to a brick. Wonder what the postage due was on that?) I understand it might be illegal, but IMO it should not be. Electronic mail has made it easier and cheaper for them to pester me; it's hypocritical that I can not use the ease and affordability to pester them in return. And it is irrelevant as to whether they are selling viagra, porn, or the jelly-of-the-month.

Why isn't there something along the lines of a no-call list that email vendors would have to obey?

Lance
2006-Mar-30, 05:34 PM
I agree completely, farmerjumperdon.

Why isn't there something along the lines of a no-call list that email vendors would have to obey?I believe the Blue Frog is attempting to make itself exactly that. I hope it works.

HenrikOlsen
2006-Mar-30, 08:18 PM
Legitimate or not, if someone sends me unsolicited mail, I have the right to reply. And if I reply 10,000 times - too bad so sad. Just like regular post office mail. (I once returned a recruiting card to the US Army - attached to a brick. Wonder what the postage due was on that?) I understand it might be illegal, but IMO it should not be. Electronic mail has made it easier and cheaper for them to pester me; it's hypocritical that I can not use the ease and affordability to pester them in return. And it is irrelevant as to whether they are selling viagra, porn, or the jelly-of-the-month.

Why isn't there something along the lines of a no-call list that email vendors would have to obey?
I would agree with you completely if only spammers wasn't lying bottomfeeding scum.
The problem is with the lying, which means relaliation is likely to end up with innocents.

As for the automatic filling out if unsubscription forms, that's just plain naive. Filling out such a form is a prime confirmation that this is a valid email address, which makes that address valuable for reselling, even if the original spammer supposedly removed you from the list.
Offers of unsubscribing are fundamentally bunk anyway, with the vast majority of spammailings being once only to each on the list, then make a new company before spamming again.

WaxRubiks
2006-Mar-30, 08:24 PM
Would typing in "message returned-this email in box is full" and sending it back to the spammer make any difference?

GDwarf
2006-Mar-30, 11:20 PM
It seems that some people here are under the mistaken impression that the Blue Frog software "mail bombs" web sites. That is not the case. This is taken directly from the Blue Frog FAQ (http://members.bluesecurity.com/cwa/faq.do#q11):
It doesn't matter how you destroy their server, the fact is that you are telling Blue Frog that they are allowed to use your PC to shut down another website, based on their judgment of what spam is.

Most of the people they choose may diserve it, but it would be impossible to not accidentally target a normal e-mail address, maybe it's Ebay or someone with e-mail you asked for, and all of a sudden Ebay goes down.

I can see how this has appeal, but given how incredibly easy it would be for something to go wrong, or be abused, and given how much damage would result from that, I find it repulsive to the extreme. It's rather like bombing where you suspect a spammer to be.

HenrikOlsen
2006-Mar-31, 04:50 PM
Would typing in "message returned-this email in box is full" and sending it back to the spammer make any difference?
Not on the spammer, but it'll irritate the innocent person who ends up getting your mail, and may get you blocked for spamming yourself if it's automated.

The vast majority of spam mails have forged sender information, so you can't just return the mail.
Trust me on this, after running a spamfilter on a mailserver which files all mails found to be spam in case it's needed for later reference or is shown to be valid, I have more than 500K spammails to base my observations on.

Any action taken against a sender based on information in headers or envelope will result in hitting the wrong target >95% of the time.
The only reliable data you have is the ipnumber of the machine sending, and the intended recipient. Everything else can easily be, and most often are, forged.

farmerjumperdon
2006-Mar-31, 05:10 PM
OK, I'm relatively ignorant on this - but want to know more.

The only thing I can know is legit is the ipn number. What exactly is that, what kind of entity does it belong to, and can it be used in any way to identify the spammer?

Lance
2006-Apr-18, 06:31 PM
I have been running the Blue Frog (http://www.bluesecurity.com/) for a few weeks now and am happy to report that my spam has decreased substantially. It takes a while to start working but once it does it seems to work well. And if you use MailWasher (http://firetrust.com/), Blue Frog now integrates directly into it making reporting spam that much easier.

In my opinion, this system is working well.

TrAI
2006-Apr-18, 11:21 PM
Hmmm... Not only do most spammers forge the mail headers, they often use networks of compromized machines, quite similar to distributed denial of service zombie networks, so its likely that no information you get from the mail is usable for tracking back the originator directly.

The only really effective way to handle spam would be to get everyone to stop buying stuff advertized in spam(the spammers get paied by the people the advertizements are for, after all), so that it no longer was a viable means of earning money. But that seems rather unlikely...

Lance
2006-Apr-18, 11:37 PM
Hmmm... Not only do most spammers forge the mail headers, they often use networks of compromized machines, quite similar to distributed denial of service zombie networks, so its likely that no information you get from the mail is usable for tracking back the originator directly.
It doesn't matter where the mail came from. It matters who sent it. And that is determined by the address of the web site the spam message directs you to. If they (the spammers) don't try to direct you to some site to buy something, there really isn't a point in sending the spam.

Lance
2006-Apr-28, 08:31 PM
Update:

I now have an older email address that has gone a few days and received no spam what so ever. This is an address that I had previously abandoned as useless do to the level of spam received

My main address is down to just a few pieces a day, from dozens.

The home-grown spam filter on my server is recording just the occasional deletion. One or two a day, down from dozens.

I havn't received an ad for a rolex watch, or body-part enhancement in over two weeks now.

At this point, I would rate the Blue Frog concept as phenomenal!

GDwarf
2006-Apr-28, 09:00 PM
Update:

I now have an older email address that has gone a few days and received no spam what so ever. This is an address that I had previously abandoned as useless do to the level of spam received

My main address is down to just a few pieces a day, from dozens.

The home-grown spam filter on my server is recording just the occasional deletion. One or two a day, down from dozens.

I havn't received an ad for a rolex watch, or body-part enhancement in over two weeks now.

At this point, I would rate the Blue Frog concept as phenomenal!
Heh, I never said it wouldn't work, what I'm sacred is that it will work too well, or be used wrongly.

Lance
2006-Apr-28, 09:31 PM
Heh, I never said it wouldn't work, what I'm sacred is that it will work too well, or be used wrongly.
Many, many things that work well have the ability to be used wrongly. When has that ever been a good reason to not use a good tool?

GDwarf
2006-Apr-28, 10:16 PM
Many, many things that work well have the ability to be used wrongly. When has that ever been a good reason to not use a good tool?
Because this 'tool' is designed almost identically to a tool that's only use is to destroy other people's computers, in fact, this does the same thing, it's just a bit more polite before it does so.

Lance
2006-Apr-28, 10:19 PM
Because this 'tool' is designed almost identically to a tool that's only use is to destroy other people's computers, in fact, this does the same thing, it's just a bit more polite before it does so.
"destroy other people's computers"?

Clearly we are not talking about the same thing. The Blue Frog anti-spam tool does nothing of the sort.

GDwarf
2006-Apr-28, 10:47 PM
"destroy other people's computers"?

Clearly we are not talking about the same thing. The Blue Frog anti-spam tool does nothing of the sort.
Sorry, hyperbole on my part. DDoS attacks are normally done by secretly installing programs on people's computers that, when the command is sent out, all send some kind of message to a certain person's computer, knocking it offline, IIRC they're illegal, sound familiar?

I'm probably being silly, you probably see it as me crying for all hammers to be banned becuase you can kill a man with one, I see it more as calling for all swords to be banned because they're intended to kill people.

Lance
2006-Apr-28, 11:01 PM
Well, our opinions will probably continue to differ. So far, I see Blue Frog performing as promised and making my life easier. I will give periodic reports of how well, or poorly, it functions. If it starts doing bad things, I will advise on that, too.

But please remember, if asking spammers nicely to stop spamming you actually worked, there would be no need for software such as this. Many real people lose a lot of real money every day because of the spam problem. If I fail to receive the occasional FTD birthday notification as a side result of vastly reducing my spam problem, I'm good with that.

If you or someone else can suggest a better alternative then I will gladly change my mind. But so far, the only thing anyone can reasonably suggest is that I sit here and take it. I've run MailWasher for several years now, and it has done very little to help.

01101001
2006-May-04, 10:04 PM
Blue Frog verifies your email address for spammers.

MSNBC: Spammer cracks 'do-not-spam' list (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12618136/)


One spammer has managed to identify e-mail addresses on a "do-not-spam" list touted as secure, taking advantage of an obvious flaw with such lists and prompting critics to wonder what took so long.

Those who submitted their addresses to Blue Security Inc.'s Blue Frog registry have been getting messages that threaten, among other things, "nonsensical spams 20-40 times more than you would normally" get, according to a copy provided by the company.

zebo-the-fat
2006-May-18, 07:06 PM
Blue Frog chokes on spam ...

Blue Frog has given up and allowed the spammers to win!
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/05/17/blue_security_folds/

I understand why they have given up, but it still annoys me that these criminals are allowed to fill my inbox with their crap. :evil:

TrAI
2006-May-18, 09:23 PM
Blue Frog chokes on spam ...

Blue Frog has given up and allowed the spammers to win!
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/05/17/blue_security_folds/

I understand why they have given up, but it still annoys me that these criminals are allowed to fill my inbox with their crap. :evil:

Well, I guess it was inevitable, Blue just didn't have the infrastructure to take on spammers head on, I would not say they have allowed them to win, they fought bravely, but failed to anticipate the resources and determination of the enemy, they really could not withstand the assault, it would have been a question of who could maintain their side longest, Blue Frog is a business, and would need their communications channels open, or sooner or later go bankrupt, the spammers would tie up the resources they need for their income in the attack. However, I expect that the spammers could enlist others to help the fight against those that would strip them of their rights. DDoS zombie nets are much cheaper than the resources needed to shield or absorb them.

On the net the criminals have quite effective weapons, and are prepared to use them mercilessly... IIRC the spammers claimed a few weeks back to have recovered over 80% of all email addresses that subscribed to Blue Frog, and was threatening to launch spamattacks on these. This may just have been bragging, of course, but who knows.

It almost seems that spammers and their costumers are evolving into being the online presence of organized crime, this is a rather worrysome development, they will be very hard to root out. Every defense that the anti-spam people have thought up have only resulted in more fierce and devastating responses from the spammers, its a struggle of more and more powerful weapons, and it seems that the only long time victims of these tools of war is us, the common net users. The spammers does not seem to accept that any have any right to say no to receiving their mails, and do not care what tools they employ.

It seems that the only way to stop a spammer is to get them of the net, permanently. I do wonder though, in the end, if we manage to exterminate all the annoying factors of the net, all the spammers, DoSers, Trolls and what not, will we start to feel that the net has become to sterile and confining, would we grudge the webs we wove to stop them, would we perhaps long for the days before everything was forced to conform, and every action one made did not tell everyone who they are? Strange how one tend tofocus on the positive sides of things when looking ahead, while it's the negative sides that one get stuck with forever.

400+ mails in my spam folder, I do not know if I should laugh of the absurdity of it or cry over the waste of resources, who knows what may one day drown in there...

HenrikOlsen
2006-May-18, 10:06 PM
Interestingly spun.