Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Friday, January 30, 2015

A Blizzard of Spam

The last few hours, I have been processing well over two hundred email messages. This is in addition to the two hundred or so I usually get every day. Many of these come from scheduled and known sources. However, there seems to be a creeping menace that has swollen to noticeable proportions and that is unsolicited network communications or spam. The most egregious of these messages are thinly disguised ads for inappropriate websites. It seems that the pornography industry and certain types of movements in the Middle East are beginning to saturate Google+ and send out requests to include links to their websites in my "circles." The requests do not contain anything objectionable, but the "people" making the requested link do not have any other friends on Google+ or even an identifiable profile. No friends, no profile, no followers, equates to spam.

This undercurrent of "fake" requests from "fake" people is rather easy to filter out. I have begun checking every request for inclusion in the Google+ circles carefully and declining the majority of them now and all of them where the requesting party seems to have no other contacts and has somehow mysteriously chosen to become a friend with me out of the billions of people on the earth. This is not a problem with Google+ or any of the other media. It is a consequence of the undesirable elements of out global society pushing to expand their nefarious purposes.

The next level of spam is the phishing scam, trying to get me involved. I regularly get "official" looking email requests from all sorts of financial institutions, most prominently from "PayPal"  that there is something wrong with my account and I need to immediate reply to the email or my account will be closed. My response is uniform. I delete the message. Interesting. My account is never closed and I can always go to the real account and sign in as usual. These types of messages have been disguised as valid inquiries from my bank, my credit card companies and all sorts of other businesses. They look valid, with a logo and official language.

As a variation on the financial institution, another phishing scam (where they are trying to verify my email for ulterior purposes or plant some sort of malware on my computer) is when I get an unidentified document or message to click on a link from a known friend. These seem to appear randomly and remind of a previous contact I never had and ask me to click on the link or open the document in response. I am particularly offended by these bogus requests because I know that there are many people, even those younger than I am, whose memories are not intact and who will fall prey to this type of message.

The next type of spam is also growing in popularity with the gutter people on the Web. This is a "fake" comment to one of my blog posts. The comments are formulaic. They always compliment the post and say how impressed they are with my writing. However, the comments never say anything substantive and end with a link to a website. I am not adverse to including legitimate links in comments, but I these bogus comments are extraordinarily easy to detect and uniformly get deleted. Don't add these comments to your blogs, you are only assisting in spreading this type of garbage on the Web.

Just recently, I have started to get circle requests on Google+ from legitimate businesses, not individuals. These are spam also. They are the equivalent of the now diminishing flood of unsolicited physical mail we used to receive. It seems that these requests have increased in proportion to the tapering off of the physical pile of junk mail we used to get. Of course, online, I can block these businesses as I could with all of the other spammers, but that is not an effective method of curing the problem because they will just use a different originating address the next time they send out a spam message.

With the old physical snail-mail junk mail, we are used to having a garbage can right next to where we processed our mail. The junk mail goes into the can (now a decorator container) without even being opened. This is same technique I am using on the computer. In fact, everything I get goes into the trash and only comes out if I mark it to be saved. In other words, I do not have to throw this garbage in the trash, it is all, every single message, sent directly to the trash and if I delete the message, it is permanently deleted.

Do I lose some valid and important messages? Yes, from time to time, I do. But so what? If someone wants to contact me, they should be persistent. I get so many bogus messages each day, it is inevitable that a few real ones will get lost. The analogy is that I very seldom answer my phone at all. I answer voice mails and text messages and emails and yes I do get a high level of unsolicited telephone calls. If I happen to answer one of these, I simply hang up. My life on the Web and in the modern world is extremely complicated.

In contrast, here are some simple rules.

  • Do not open unsolicited emails or requests. If you have any questions, contact the sender directly to verify the request before opening any message. Hang up. Delete it. 
  • Do not respond to unsolicited requests of any kind until they have been verified.
  • Review all mail of any kind before it is opened and permanently delete anything that is unsolicited.
  • Carefully review requests from known contacts to make sure they are not bogus. If they are suspicious notify the sender by separate message of the bogus message. 

Good Luck. I view all this activity the same way I view billboards on the Freeway and other unsolicited messages: I ignore them and process them quickly out of my life.


  1. Yes, this is so annoying. On our website we began to get spammers or bots (machines) from or .pl or .bg or .ro. These are Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania. Their email addresses are obviously computer generated. I'm not sure what some of these folks think they are accomplishing. I spent some time on Wikipedia reviewing what spammers do. There are even posts on the internet that list the most egregious spammers. So check it out. This is something all of us need to become fully aware of. I got a Masters Degree in my field of choice, but getting savvy in this internet stuff is earning me another higher degree for sure and one I don't really want!

    1. I think that they are counting on a large number of inattentive website administrators and blog writers.