Dear Mr. Gates
Enclosed is $30 cash (cash so we can keep the IRS out of this) to show my
appreciation for giving us Outlook Express for reading newsgroups. It is a
fine program and does everything I could ever want.
Use the $30 to take the family out for a nice dinner. You can even super
size your meal with this much money.
I was going to send you $20 and suggested to my friend Buck that he send you
twenty also. Well, turns out Buck is just a cheap SOB and he didn't want to
help you out. So, I'm sending extra. Maybe Buck will be shamed into
sending you the other 10 dollars this way. I doubt it thought. Last time I
have Buck a nickel to hold the buffalo started to cry because Buck squeezed
so hard. He sure is tight with money.
Thanks again Mr. Gates and I'm looking forward to more of your free
software. So is Buck but he won't write you.
Yeah, well ... about 20+ years ago I gave up my priestly robes and embraced
Windows. It's arguably made my _personal_ computing/online life much simpler
(and cheaper than previously possible) despite its many shortcomings.
... not to mention that it's difficult to imagine my 86 year old mother
'spamming the family' on anything else. :)
Oh good gosh, if Microsoft were not so easy to hack, Apple or Unix would be
the next "easy" target. Be glad your job is to work with a less sought
after target. If Microsoft and it's inept abilities to curb spam were to
disappear tomorrow your job would become a nightmare 3 or 4 weeks later.
The next most popular OS would be the target just like Microsoft is now.
While I never really bought into that argument because of the inherent
difficulty of propagating malicious code at root level on a properly
administered 'nix box, I do thank MSFT for the ubiquity of modern _PERSONAL_
computing, in spite of itself.
I was on the corporate side of the game when IBM was basically the only show
in town and I $hudder to think of the cost of those days.
I agree that it would be harder, until some one like the 14 year old that
hacked the I-phone came along and did his thing. ;~) 30 years ago there
were many impossible things yet to be done. Today, now so many.
You can say that all you want but that doesn't make it so.
I'll explain again why it is not so:
It sounds like you never heard of the "Join the Crew Virus"
or Windows XP. All of the Linuxes, Unixes, and OSX are
more secure BY DESIGN. They were designed to NOT
execute code sent to a machine over the internet by
an anonymous third party. Microsoftware was DESIGNED
to execute code sent to a computer over the internet by
an anonymous third party.
"Join the Crew" was a chain letter circulated in the late
1980s or early 1990s about a supposed email virus that would
infect your computer if you opened the email. System
administrators had to keep reassuring their users that it
was NOT possible to get a virus by reading email.
Then Microsoft discovered the internet and distributed email
clients that DID make it possible to infect a computer by
merely reading email, and in some cases just by receiving
it, no need to even read it. NO OTHER OS did THAT!
They topped that with XP which required that the user
make an insecure connection over the internet to com-
plete the installation. NO OTHER OS DID THAT.
These were not the result fo the crackers getting smarter.
Microsoft put onto the market with FEATURES, not bugs,
that rendered them insecurable. Microsoft wrote operating
systems that deliberately and by design allowed other parties
to control a local computer over the internet WITHOUT the
permission or even notification of the local user.
I cannot overstress the fact that these were not bugs. They
were written to do EXACTLY what the crackers did with them,
excepting for the specifics of the malicious applications.
That is only one reason why spam proliferates.
Another reason is that ISPs with good spam control
on their own networks (AOL is one of these) play 'whack o'
mole" trying to block spam, instead of simply refusing all
internet traffic from networks that harbor spammers.
Contrary to popular belief, the ISPs that host most spammers
are known and that information is published by the likes
of SpamHaus. See the http://www.spamhaus.org top
ten spam supporting ISP list, for example.
Verizon led the list for years as a consequence of buying
spam-friendly MCI (formerly UUNET) , but has now dropped
BTW, more than three times as many spammers are hosted
in the USA as in any other country. China is a distant
Well I am sure that every thing you say here is true, today. But security
be design is going to be cracked by some one. The strong point to all the
other systems security is that 99% of the people spamming and sending out
viruses are concentrating on the easy target. As long as other systems are
not as widely useful as Windows the attraction is going to be low. Until
another OS gets the attention that Windows does by the spammers no really
knows what holes of methods can be devised in the future to cause havoc. To
think that your set up is impenetrable is to be a bit naive.
No, the strong point to all of the other systems is that they
_have to be cracked_.
Abusers didn't have to crack Windows, they just used the
Using Windows on the internet was like walking into a gay bar
at closing time with your pants down around your ankles.
False dichotomy--like 'safe' or 'unsafe' in a woodshop.
And again I'll say that if Microsoft disappeared tomorrow the attention of
the spamers would be dirrected at cracking the security on the other OS
systems. I do not contest the fact that Microsoft created the Spammers
paradise but having to crack the security of an OS is not going to make the
millions of spamers go away.
Yes that is true. Path of least resistance. Take that target away and the
tens of thousands or more people that make their living doing this now will
look for the next easiest target.
I would know nothing about that. I'll take your word on that one, BIG BOY.
While 'tens of thousands' is not as wildly incorrect as 'millions' it
way of the mark. There may have been a total of a few tens of
of email spammers since the inception of the practice, but the
number of those were chicken boners who almost certainly lost money
by spamming. E.g. they paid for spamware and/or affiliate membership
is some internet-based pyramid scheme, made no sales and got malletted
within hours or days of sending their first spam. Almost every ISP
terminate the account of a spammer who isn't paying them a lot extra
(e.g. the notorius 'pink' contracts with ATT and others.) The number
a living off spam today are no more than two or three hundred and
any more than that.
There may be fewer today than at any time in the last ten years due
no small measure to organized crime offering deals their competition
Question I've never understood--how does anybody actually make any
money? I can see the possibility (however remote) that somebody
responds to the phishing, etc., but 98% of what I get is simply
machine-generated gibberish it appears. What's up w/ that?
Most of the machine-generated crap you see is virus/bot software trying
to infect your computer and turn it into a spam zombie--some of the spam
out there is phishing (as you've seen), some is for Viagra and random
penis enlargement stuff (nearly all medical spam is actual for "herbal
viagra" or what have you, which has nothing in common with the original),
and some of the zombies are just there waiting to be called into action
to DoS a company that isn't paying protection money. Yep, vulnerable
computers are being used for big-money extortion, some of it against the
major world banks and such corporations.
Leon, the point he's trying to make is that spammers didn't have to devise
any methods to get into Windows - Microsoft provided them :-).
AFAIK, that is not the case with any of the Unix variants. I wrote code
to control, among other things, smelters, rolling mills, radio
telescopes, and computer aided dispatch. All of them were concerned about
security for obvious reasons, especially the highway patrol :-).
To put it another way, setting up an insecure Unix box takes a fair amount
of work. Work that can only be done by someone with superuser authority.
Setting up a secure Windows box takes a great amount of work and the
result is a crippled system because many features must be disabled.
I totally agree and am not defending Microsoft at all. They created this
problem. But like "nukes" the problem is not going to go away. An industry
has been created and will continue with or with out an easy target.
If Unix became the next OS in every home like Microsoft is now, do you think
that "everyone" would be able to do that fair amount of work to insure its
security against spammers?
I am only saying that Unix is strong because it does not appeal to the
masses, a target not worth the time needed to crack it, today. If Unix
replaced Windows in the future you have thousands and thousands of spammers
that will have reason to go after the next easiest target. I suspect that
Apple would be that target. I remember when Apple had no virus problems.
Had Unix been the first OS to be in every ones homes perhaps Spammers would
not exist today but now they do and they probably are not going to go away
simply because the target becomes harder to get into.
I think you read that one backwards, Leon :-).
I don't doubt that dedicated hackers could get into Unix. They have
before, albeit most intrusions were of the "worm" and not the "virus"
But when every process runs in its own protected memory space, it does
limit the opportunities for system-wide damage. And at least one Unix,
OpenBSD, was designed specifically for security.
But your point is valid. There would surely be more hacking attempts, and
successes, were Unix the predominant OS. I just don't think they'd be as
frequent or as severe.
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