I think just about everybody is tired of junk mail clogging up his or her Inbox. I know I am. These days, I receive somewhere between 250 and 450 messages per day, and the vast majority of it (probably about 75 percent to 90 percent) is junk mail advertising all kinds of things I will most likely never find a use for. My favorite junk mail ad is the one that suggests I buy its antispam product to prevent receiving its spam!
By looking at the recipient address on the messages, I can tell that almost all the spammers sending me email have harvested my address and used it without my permission. And the sender addresses show that almost all the spammers make considerable attempts to disguise or lie about their actual identities. Not knowing who's actually responsible for the junk mail makes the effort to stop it much harder.
Fortunately, some relief is in sight. The Associated Press (AP) reports that the state of Virginia has indicted two North Carolina men, charging them with violations of antispam laws. The indictments represent the first case in America in which people have been criminally charged with felonies for sending unsolicited email.
According to the report, Jeremy Jaynes (aka Jeremy James or Gaven Stubberfield) and Richard Rutowski are accused of sending tens of thousands of unsolicited email messages and Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore said he knows of no legitimate business operated by either of the men. Their spam typically consisted of solicitations for penny stocks, low interest rate loans, and Internet history erasing tools. Because the men falsified their identities, charges against them were elevated to felonies.
Spamhaus, an organization that helps track and minimize spamming and spammers, ranked Jaynes as the eighth worst spam offender as of November 2003. The ranking is based on the number of registered complaints against him. Hopefully, his indictment will cause other spammers and scammers to think more carefully before clogging up the Internet with their ridiculous advertisements.
As far as I know, Virginia is currently the only state in the nation that has laws that allow for criminal prosecution of spammers. However, you might recall that Congress recently passed legislation that proposes new federal laws that allow for federal prosecution. That legislation will become enforceable law when the president signs it.
I have no idea how this legislation will help prevent junk mail that originates from foreign countries. Perhaps we'll see cases of foreign spammers identified and extradited to the United States for prosecution.
Alan Sugano recently wrote about his experiences troubleshooting an Exchange Server that was plagued with noticeable backup failures and poor performance. Sugano eventually found that a spammer in China was using the server to send loads of spam. Be sure to read part 1 of his expose, "Malicious Hackers and Spam"; look for the link in the Security News and Features section below to learn more about his cyber-sleuthing adventure.