This Blog Is Not For Reading

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    • Favorite 14 October 2019
      bobjonkman favorited something by thj: Cool teardown video from Applied Science that reveals how analog era snapshot cameras printed the date on the film negative: the segmented digits, you'd think it's a tiny fluorescent display, but it's actually more interesting that that.
    • New note by bobjonkman 6 October 2019
      And now I've discovered your website, and I'll be rabbitholing for the rest of the afternoon... @mattskala
    • New note by bobjonkman 6 October 2019
      Terrible title, great article. I remember just enough from my Uni "Electricity and Magnetism" course that I could follow.
    • New note by bobjonkman 6 October 2019
      Moar info on #SynthFestival, plz!
    • Favorite 6 October 2019
      bobjonkman favorited something by xj9: time to focus on the real issue at hand: end intellectual property, end copyright, end software licenses altogether: dedicate all of your work to the public domain.
    • New note by bobjonkman 30 September 2019
      Daily grind? Does that mean you get fresh !coffee every day?
    • New note by bobjonkman 4 September 2019
      They're made out of meat
    • Favorite 4 September 2019
      bobjonkman favorited something by tom: we're all just markov bots made of meat
    • Favorite 4 September 2019
      bobjonkman favorited something by o0karen0o: Free and open source software's all about the fact that no one and nothing is perfect. #reminder
    • Favorite 31 July 2019
      bobjonkman favorited something by natecull: Dear everyone who is considering making a video of yourself talking rather than just writing the *exact same words* into a text file, a blog post or a PDF:Unless you're specifically targeting people who literally cannot read...Please don't.Sincerely, A Person Who Doesn't Have Literal Free Hours To Hear You Slooooowly […]

Archive for the 'spam' Category

Charming comment spam

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 6th July 2012

Smoke curls up

Genie in the bottle

This blog may not have many readers who leave comments, but it sure does have a lot of commenters who leave spam! Still, I make sure to go through the list of pending comments in case there’s a real one in there. Today, I came across one comment that was obviously spam, but charming with its fractured English and a punch line I hadn’t heard before:

A houseman was walking on the beach harmonious day and he bring about a bottle half buried in the sand. He irrefutable to provide it. Stomach was a genie. The genie said,” I resolve agree to you three wishes and three wishes only.” The gentleman prospect there his beginning demand and decided, “I think I be deficient in 1 million dollars transferred to a Swiss bank account. POOF! Next he wished after a Ferrari red in color. POOF! There was the transport sitting in van of him. He asked in search his settled hanker, ” I wish I was irresistible to women.” POOF! He turned into a box of chocolates.

Genie in the bottle by zenoka is used under a CC BY-NC 2.0CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

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Posted in blogging, spam | 3 Comments »

What to do about compromised Hotmail passwords

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 18th November 2010

autoroute à emails

autoroute à emails by Biscarotte

I administer a number of e-mail systems, and I’ve been seeing a lot of spam coming from Hotmail accounts recently. And both friends and clients have been telling me that it’s not them who are sending spam from Hotmail (and ending up in my e-mail systems), their accounts have been hacked. One person asked me:

Is it just Hotmail? What else could I use? Can’t I just change my password?

Changing passwords is only an effective solution if the account was compromised by social engineering, eg. the legitimate user giving out the password in a phishing attempt or other direct means, or if a simple password was guessed or cracked.

There is evidence that Hotmail and Yahoo’s password recovery mechanism is flawed (eg. the Sarah Palin breach), so that malusers can acquire a new password for an account. I don’t think this is happening, because victims are not reporting being locked out of their accounts. Of course, if the service merely sends out the current password then this may be what is happening, and no amount of password complexity will protect the account.

If the passwords were compromised by an automated password cracker then I would expect only simple passwords to be breached, and accounts with strong passwords would be safe. I do not know what kind of passwords were in use by the people who have compromised accounts, but it is likely they were simple passwords.

While I have no evidence, I think the current rash of breaches is due to a more systematic attack by URL munging, or fuzzing the inputs on a POST request, or some other attack vector. These attacks do not require an authenticated login, and in that case no amount of password complexity will provide security either.

I haven’t heard of similar compromised accounts in Gmail, so that may be a suitable alternative for now. I’ve been recommending that people use the mail accounts provided by their ISPs, largely so that they can make use of the ISP’s technical support if their accounts do get compromised. And, of course, if they’re paying their ISP for a mail account then there may be immunity from liability (“My mail account was compromised and I was paying my ISP for security, so all this spam is their fault”).


Update 5 Feb 2012: I retract the first sentence in the last paragraph. E-mail Administrator friends have been telling me that Google Mail is just as vulnerable as Hotmail and Yahoo. Having just read “Hacked!” in The Atlantic I’m convinced the problem of compromised mail accounts is worse than I thought, and that no online providers (especially the “free” ones) adequately protect the e-mail of their users.

autoroute à emails by Biscarotte is used under a Creative Commons by-sa-v2.0 license.

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Posted in email, Internet, spam | 1 Comment »

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