Thursday, 7 June 2012

Will you be my friend? Come on ISP's. Get tough!

I appreciate it is nearly always done by "autobots", or whatever the internet nuisances name their little pieces of software, but I notice that the moment you connect to Skype, the social networks, the infuriating MSN Messenger or even the odd five minutes you might while away on one of the free amusement (such as poker) sites, you're hounded by people.

These people are total strangers who want you "to connect with them", "be their poker pal", "have a conversation" or something similar. Total strangers who hound you the second you log on.

Now I know without even accepting these unsolicited spam calls, that were you to agree, you'd be more than likely immediately directed to a Canadian Viagra site, some PPI ambulance-chasing 'para-site' or to one of the less salubrious teenage ninja porn sites. And that, of course, answers the main question as to "What's in it for them?".

However, it doesn't quite answer the question as to why they bother. Yes, if they spam 1 million people, they only need a click-through rate of a minute percentage of one per cent to make money, but I would really love to know why they bother?

More to them point, I cannot understand why the ISP's (internet service providers) aren't more proactive in preventing these spammers. With modern technology and the level of expertise at their disposal, surely it is a simply matter of halting them?

Take Hotmail, the free email account from Microsoft that has been around since 1996 (in Microsoft's hands since 1997). I've had an account since it started, and many of the spam emailers ("Dear Beneficiary", "My friend in Christ" ad nauseam) are also celebrating 15 years of seeking names, addresses, bank account numbers, mothers' maiden names and pin numbers.

The content of these spam emails hasn't changed much over the years. The same old lottery wins from lotteries that you haven't entered and that don't exist. Sons of the Nigerian oil ambassador (he must have thousands of the little blighters) wanting you to put $25million through your account (they always pick such unrealistic sums). Inland Revenue refunds. And the cruel and distasteful former soldiers from Desert Storm or Helmand Province who have found millions of dollars in a sack in the desert that they want to smuggle back to the States (via your account - strange how they can find a bank to deposit the money into in the middle of nowhere!).

It would be so easy for the ISP's to totally block theses spam emails before they even got off the starting blocks! The giveaway is in the wording! Not only the wording, but any email phishing for information by asking name and bank accounts could so easily be blocked. As could any email coming from an obfuscated email address. Although if anyone is dense enough to reply to an email from one email account where when you press the reply button it goes to a different account, and a third "My personal email address" is then contained within the body of the email, they deserve what's coming to them!).

So come on ISP's. Get your fingers out and help eradicate this blight on the internet.

And name registrants! You too could also do with getting your fingers out and banning these para-sites.

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