“Spim, Spam, Splog”: Behind the Scenes on the Battle Against Internet Scum

Several legal and technical experts from a major ISP led a discussion on the more annoying aspects of Internet use. Clearing out the come-ons for cheap prescription drugs and “investments” gets old quickly, and it seems like little is being done to combat the abuse of our time and technology resources.

Pete Wellborn led the discussion, with backup from several colleagues working in the trenches. The evolution of spam messages was discussed, as well as the “arms race” between A/V software, spam filters, and public awareness of common scam measures.

Believe it or not, there are actual fraud teams working behind the “abuse” links of major Internet sites and ISPs. Resources and manpower are limited, especially on the law enforcement end. Teamwork and relationships between different companies and law enforcement agencies is vital, especially when dealing with international scams. The involvement of large companies and government agencies means that it can take months, or even years, to resolve a fraud case. Different countries or government agencies may not have the same priorities toward a specific type of crime, and certain companies don’t always make fraud prevention a high priority.

The most important part of fighting fraud and abuse is common sense: if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t! The more costly, risky, and difficult we make it for spammers, the less spam we’ll see. Taking the time to learn how your computer works and using basic security measures can go a long way. Finally, write your government representatives and the companies you do business with. Let them know that you want them to pass laws and take measures to support stronger measures against spammers and scam artists.

The EFF track offers a variety of discussions on related topics. To learn about the latest legislative, technological, and privacy issues, consider attending a couple of the panel discussions or supporting EFF efforts.

Author of the article

Claire Greiner currently makes her living in insurance sales—at least, until she figures out what she really wants to be when she grows up. Having grown up in Michigan, she loves the outdoors and spends the nicer weekends (all five of them) at the beach or hiking in the woods. Her hobbies include cooking, music, computer games (an admitted Civilization addict), and gardening (currently limited to a small container garden on her apartment's balcony). Her most recent writing has been website copy and marketing campaigns for her employer. She hopes to get back in touch with her "geek streak" by going to grad school in the next couple years. Claire also spends a fair amount of time and energy making sure her friend Geoff Termorshuizen stays out of trouble.