Sam the Spammer Interview
I have been doing some hunting and I have managed to track down a bloke call Sam, you know the one from the El Reg Sam the Spammer. Some of the responses are short and sweet, but from where I am sitting, schumness tells its own story. :-). So here is what Sam had to say.
As per the el reg article do you still comment spam and have you had to change your approach to the technique?
Iâ€™m still a spammer. Techniques have adapted rather than changed massively. New challenges have come along like the mass introduction of CAPTCHAs as well as greater steps to prevent spam such as akismet etc.
They can all be beaten but it does require extra steps. While the profitability is still there Iâ€™ll continue to abuse it.
How do you deal with the heat from the angry bloggers. They do make special efforts to hassle hosts, merchants and registrars. I have even seen merchants taken out which obviously goes down like a mug of cold sick.
To be honest I rarely get any heat. I donâ€™t know if itâ€™s because my spam is so good, my database is so aged it only hits dead blogs, or I just hide myself well, but it is rare (maybe 5 calls in the last year) that have meant anyone complained. At the end of the day it is also very easy to say that someone must have done it to us!
SQL injection. Ever used that sort of exploit.
Thatâ€™s probably illegal isnâ€™t it ?
4. How do you conceal your identity from Joe â€œnow fucked offâ€ Blogger?
I donâ€™t really. If someone is pissed off Iâ€™d rather know about it than not. Forewarned is forarmed.
You still got that old Jag?
Yup, though about time to get a new one I think 🙂
What do you think about violation of blogs, with respect to things like a memorial blog? Just because it is not maintained anymore, doesnâ€™t mean is it not precious to someone. Or is it a case of fair game? Do you try and do any filtering on the fly, like looking for certain keywords?
If a blog or other system is in my DB then it is prone to be hit by me. If itâ€™s your memorial blog. Sorry but itâ€™s nothing personal. Algorithms are at play here and it is those same algos that decide whether to stick a comment on your site or not.
Proxies are the lifeblood of any spamming / scraping operation. Where do you acquire your from, scraping open lists, port scanning, onions routing or subscription.
All of the above and then a touch more 😀
How do you tackle a new area. For example do you go after the big terms or do you go for thousands of low level converter terms? Care to share at all?
Bottom feeding AKA the Long Tail, is where the true money is at. I think an old statistic (not sure if it is still true and relevant) said that 55% of searches have no advertising shown for them. Iâ€™ll happily monetise that 55% but Its also been known to go after some of the huge traffic in the short tail.
When I arrived at your office I noticed the door to your DC and you were good enough to show me around. To set the scene, as I walk in there are big heavy metal racks. On each of those racks are shelves with desktop PCâ€™s (no keyboard or monitors). Being the sad git that I am I notice how neat all the cabling is, all green and tied to solid objects, with what from memory looked to be 50, 2 gang power supplies evenly spaced across the wall. So now I have set the scene can you tell us how you manage the data, do you have custom programs for data collection, storage and processing? But most of all, what do you do with that data.
we have developed loads of techy geeky things that allow us to have â€œdecentâ€ global file systems, symmetrical multi processing clusters and the code has been adapted to work with that. Hard drives are cheap, code aint rocket science and when you throw it all together it means that (ultimately) it works and we rank!
Cheers Sam, I owe you a beer next time I see you, happy spamming!