spam

Death penalty justified

| The Supreme Court recently decided that the death penalty was too extreme for those convicted of child rape. I've got a better case for them: How about spammers?

Spam — the kind that appears in your inbox, not the kind you buy in the store — seems to come in cycles. Rather like el niño in that respect. After a dry spell comes the deluge. Noah, build another ark!

There has been a dramatic rise in the number of spam messages making their way to my email box in recent weeks. When I re-connected to the internet this morning, about 50 spams had accumulated, in roughly 12 hours.

junk folder
This morning's junk-mail folder

This generation of spam has several distinguishing characteristics:

Clearly variation is being introduced randomly to thwart spam blockers. Any method that depends on detecting an exact address or exact name or exact subject is doomed to fail by a simple program that makes up subjects by randomly picking words or syllables from the dictionary and randomly interchanging letters or inserting punctuation in the result.

These messages are such obvious spam that you have to wonder why anybody would go to the trouble of writing a little program to generate them, even though it would be a simple task for a programmer. Obvious answer: enough people must get sucked in to make it worthwhile.

But here's what I don't get: Why don't they track these guys down and put them away?

Consider what happens when an episode of mad-cow disease breaks out: Before you know it, it has been traced back to a specific cow in somebody's barn. Consider what happens when salmonella breaks out: It gets traced back to somebody's spinach patch. (Well, maybe that's not such a good example anymore, since the current outbreak seems to defy tracing.) When an epidemic of flu breaks out they trace it back to some village in the hinterlands. You get the idea.

Messages don't move by magic through the internet. They go from server to server leaving a trail of electronic breadcrumbs if anybody cared to follow them. They start somewhere. There has to be a Typhoid Mary at the beginning of every spate of spam. Find her!

The National Security Agency (NSA) is reading all the world's email to catch terrorists. Put all that technology and brainpower to work to catch the spammers. I'd like my tax money to go to that purpose!

And when they find him or her or them bring them to justice and then make them die. The world would be a better place.

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018

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