Posts Tagged ‘spam’

Spam conferences.

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Today I got an e-mail from Prof. Nikos E. Mastorakis <> with the loong subject line:

Dear Professor Frers, As invited author, you are entitled publication of your paper in the ISI Proceedings, Books and Journals of the WSEAS [my e-mail address] ( reply only to )

How nice!, I thought, Somebody recognized my academic brilliance and is inviting me to a conference!. More flattery follows and then come several lists and promises of how many books I will get for free if I attend the conference, that they will publish my paper in some kind of journal which will be cited and listed in a gazillion of indices etc. By then, I was already pretty suspicious and the effect of the flattery sadly had to subside. There was just too much information about how academically excellent this conference would be, how much I personally would benefit from it, and there were some other, more interesting suggestions: The location they gave for the conference is Penang, Malaysia and guess what the picture on the conference website shows? Yup. A beach lined with palm trees…
When I then went on to search the internet for terms like wseas strange, wseas spam or wseas scam, I had to dig through many, many pages that all were somehow linked to the organization that hosts the conference itself. They are very clever in linking to papers that have the words spam or scam in them, so that you will somehow land in one of their domains when you actually are looking for sources not connected to them. It seems to me they even have pseudo blogs of their own. With a bit of effort you will find the few places that are independent and they certainly don’t have a lot of good things to say about the scheme. (The best that you will find are the CVs and publication lists of people who seem to have attended one of the many conferences hosted by the WSEAS.) The registration fee is between 500 and 550 Euros. On the page where they give information about the conference fee, you see two women in bikinis lounging beside a crystal blue swimming pool… Got the idea?
So you have a strange mix of appealing on the one hand to a huge career benefit in terms of publishing in well-indexed journals and on the other hand of hanging out at a beach etc. Who wouldn’t submit a paper? Well, I haven’t found a report of anyone who actually participated in one of these conferences, but I am quite sure it would be an interesting read. But I guess the incentives for disclosing this kind of information are not very … existent. Good subject for a field study, of course. Other than that, I would be glad if my e-mail inbox could be kept free of this kind of – in my opinion – pseudo-academic money making scheme that eats away my time and attention.

Leaving Boston and re-enabling comments.

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Well, well, the stay in Boston has been very nice – new friends and old friends together created a very rich social life. And I even got an article finished! (More about that in another post sometime in the future.)
I had disabled the comment function after a massive spam attack and forgot to turn it on again afterwards. Now comments should be working again!

Small tip for those who have to check their spam folders.

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

Since no spam filter is perfect and nothing is worse than ham classified as spam, I have to check the contents of the different spam folders of my e-mail accounts somewhat regularly. For some of them, several hundred spam mails per week are not a rare occurrence – thus it can be a real drag to check all of their titles for possible ham (that is e-mails that are good and actually addressed to me, not unsolicited ads, phishing stuff, and all the other stupid things). Last week I tried something new to help my perception: I ordered the contents of the spam folders by subject! Incredible, isn’t it? That makes picking out potential ham much easier, especially in those cases where you have lots of spam messages with almost identical subject lines. Probably you have already figured this out on your own, but maybe not – and then you owe me one ;)


Monday, February 6th, 2006

Puha. Endlich habe ich mich durchgerungen, mein E-Mail Konto mit dem Benutzernamen frers bei aufzulösen. Nachdem ich schon seit einigen Monaten nur noch eine Weiterleitung auf mein gmail / googlemail Konto laufen hatte, habe ich nun das Konto ganz gelöscht. Eine Bürde ist von mir genommen. Ungefähr 80% der Spammails, die ich über meine privaten E-Mail Adressen bekomme, gingen an die Adresse. Dazu kommen dann noch die ständigen, nervigen InformationsWerbe-Mails von – alles in allem: kaum zu ertragen. Das Webinterface ist auch penetrant.
Nun wünsche ich Google viel Vernügen beim indizieren meiner E-Mails… Wer das vermeiden will, kann die E-Mails ja verschlüsseln – entweder mit PGP/GPG (mein Schlüssel ist unten in der Seitenleiste verlinkt) oder mit meinem Thawte E-Mail Zertifikat (findet sich in meinen signierten Mails).

Besonders ärgerlicher Spam

Sunday, May 15th, 2005

Wie die meisten mittlerweile wohl festgestellt haben, triffen seit heute Nacht große Mengen rechtsradikal motivierter Spam Nachrichten in die E-Mailboxen ein. Heise gibt dazu mehr Informationen in einer Meldung via Newsticker. Anscheinend ist ein Variante des Wurms Sober für die Verbreitung der Spam Nachrichten zuständig. Grrrr.

A sigh of relief and (hopefully) the end of comment spam floods.

Tuesday, November 30th, 2004

Finally, finally. After some e-mail exchange with Tony Shadwick I got the blacklist modification of the writeback plugin working. Now I am able to block the posting of comments that contain certain keywords. A few minor oddities regarding my blacklist remain to be resolved, but even as it stands right now I had several hours free of new comment spam. Yes, I am talking about hours. If I would have been able to spend all the time that I invested in removing spam over the course of the last weeks into writing new entries this blog would have been a much more interesting place. Let’s hope the best for the future – until then: Thanks Tony and Doug!

Measures against comment spam implemented.

Saturday, November 6th, 2004

Most of the time I spent on my blog during the last weeks has been spent removing comment spam. I thought that removing comment spam manually wouldn’t take up that much time but I was wrong. One argument against implementing an automatized solution to this problem was that they often block IP addresses or even ranges of IP addresses. This wouldn’t have been a good solution, since blocking these address ranges would keep other, legitimate users from accessing my blog. After being frustrated by another wave of comment spam I did some more research and found a modified comment plug-in for my blog software (blosxom). This plug-in is based on a keyword blacklist, which is regularly updated. It sounds good and I really hope that it helps keep the comments in this blog spam-free without requiring too much maintenance effort.

Some things aren’t easy even when they should be.

Saturday, September 11th, 2004

Motivated by an article in the most recent issue of c’t called Absender-Authentifizierung schützt vor Spam I decided to give it a shot and install certificates into, the default E-Mail programm for OS X. This was not exactly a trivial issue, but the goal was worth it: being able to digitally sign my e-mail and also use encryption. (I am an avid user of PGP/GPG encryption technology since the late nineties, but I also wanted to check out this alternative, since, sadly, very few people actually use PGP.) First I wanted to use the certificate provided by the German mail provider Since that did initially not work as intended, I checked an enormously helpful site called macosxhints. There I found quite a few tips that helped me tackle certification, signing, and encrypting issues in Mac OS X. Since I had problems with the certificates I decided to follow the advices on that macosxhints and got myself free personal e-mail certificates from thawte. After a few experiments I finally got the certificates installed: I had to use either Firefox or Mozilla to install the certificates into these browsers and then was able to ex- and import these certificates into the Mac OS X keychain, which is used by Mail, Safari and other Mac OS X native apps. After importing these certificates everything went as expected. For good measure I later installed the root certificates of , the DFN, and several relevant German universities.

Regarding the problems I had with the certificate: I did not install the root certificates when I first tried to use their certificate for signing purposes, which might be the reason why it did not work. Problem is, I was looking for a link to the root certificates in my personal options pages at but did not find anything. They weren’t even mentioned, even though I explicitly looked for them. One more thing regarding the c’t article gives a link to the TrustCenter, saying that under this link free certificates can be acquired. This is not true anymore. One has to have a account to get a certificate. (The account is free though – but I think the author thought registration for an account wasn’t necessary, otherwise it would probably have been mentioned.)

Fingerprints for all of my keys/certificates can be found at the bottom of the sidebar on this page.

Real-time fighting comment spam.

Monday, August 30th, 2004

Wow. That was a first timer. As these lines are written new comment spam is being generated in my blog, and, of course, immediately afterwards deleted. Lucky occurence that I did another spam check after deleting the entries which I found, so that I saw that new ones suddenly sprang into existence. If only one could catch and identify the perpetrator in the act…


Wednesday, August 11th, 2004

Two acts of electronic data cleaning have been performed today. (1) There were about fifty new comment spam entries (generated only a few minutes before I performed the daily routine check, therefore an almost non-existent risk of them having been indexed by a search engine) which I deleted. And (2) today the Mac OS X 10.3.5 update was published, which I used as an occasion and excuse to clean out caches, rebuild indexes and directory maps and generally let the electronic equivalent of a fresh breeze sweep through my machines here. The updates went smoothly, and, of course, the world is now a better and snappier place.

Waves of comment spam.

Saturday, June 19th, 2004

Comment spam is becoming more frequent these weeks. Yesterday I had to delete about 20 comments that were linking to a bunch of porn sites. Usually, I only have a few scattered comment spams per week, but sometimes there is a more massive generation of comment entries. I am hoping that the next revision of my blogging tool Blosxom will include some kind of anti-comment spam mechanism that does not rely on password protection (which I wouldn’t want to introduce).

Comment spam deleted.

Friday, March 26th, 2004

If you missed the ‘opportunity’ to check what I meant in Tuesday’s entry, I have uploaded a screenshot of the comments of this hot topic, to quote daniel…


Wednesday, March 24th, 2004

I just checked the hot topics link in the column to the right to see if anyone has commented on any not-immediately-visible entry and guess what I found: someone is spamming my blog with porn links! This is the first time I noticed this, I haven’t even heard that people do this. How I hate that. If you want to check out what happened take a look at these spammed comments. I will remove this stuff tomorrow, so that you have a chance to see yourself (if you want to). Things like this are the reasons why people put disclaimers on their sites, I guess…