Saturday, September 29, 2007

Always a pleasure to be wasting your time, guv

This week has been a little unusual around the BSDly household. So far I've generally been doing my regular job in the daytime (with longish office hours), only working on the book evenings and weekends. That the arrangement would lead to "Exhaustion is my middle name" status was obvious to everyone except me, but I finally saw where it could be going. So for a little more than the past week I've been working on the book full time.

The state of perpetual exhaustion has had some not too happy consequences. Of course the general progress on the book suffered, but it also lead to me missing the monthly BLUG meeting in August. Of course much of that particular day I had spent persuading somebody not too bright that it indeed had to be a reconfiguration they said had never happend at their end which ended up breaking things at our end, and I was just too tired and missed what I assume was a well executed lecture on networking basics by Vegard Engen (of RFC1149 implementation fame).

This week with only one job I needed to tackle, I was there for an enjoyable one and a half hours of Bacula, well presented by Bård Aase (aka elzapp). Off to Henrik (the regular BLUG pub) for a few beers afterwards, and with Johan Riise volunteering to put together a 'Unix and time' lecture for next month, the BLUG calender seems to be in order after all, with Jill Walker doing the end of semester talk in November, on whatever interesting stuff she has been up to lately. Unfortunately it looks like the last Thursday of November is close enough to OpenCON that I'll likely miss Jill's session.

In the meantime, there are signs that the greytrapping and my bait list is working. Looking over the spamd logs today I found quite a few entries like these:

Sep 29 15:29:23 skapet spamd[20795]: (BLACK) 
<> -> <>
Sep 29 15:29:32 skapet spamd[20795]: (BLACK) 
<> -> <>

which looks strikingly like the Spanish lottery scam spammers patiently and methodically working their way through my list of bait addresses, all the way from top to bottom, at roughly 3000 addresses it's going be a while. All I can say is, we are extremely pleased to be wasting your time, senor.

Also while the girls were off to the Raptus comics festival (an annual event, and one of the big things here in Bergen), I found enough trash backscatter to non-existent addresses that it's likely that the same weekend spambot operators who spewed their spam with and addresses earlier (both times at weekends) have now discovered and are doing their damnedest.

Why they prefer to generate a few hundred fake addresses and use them all in one go is beyond me. The other groups seem to generate only a handful of new addresses each every day, and for good measure at least one of them sort of reuse the generated addresses by using a forward and a reverse (such as in this morning's preserved greylist dumps, there was a as well as the reverse This lot just dumps all they have in one go, mainly contributing to swelling that file in my home directory with the totally unprintable file name which is the temporary storage before they go to into the traplist and on to the bait page.

Distractions of that kind from my main task is never entirely welcome, but with a larger influx of new addresses to be added to the bait list I made some small changes to make the maintenance of that page a bit more sane, rediscovering server-side includes and redirects along the
way. And the data I keep collecting may become the basis for other projects later.

Anyway, it is increasingly clear that the spammers are including the generated fake addresses in their "known good" lists. Consider the spambot at (apparently in Korea), which insists on delivering to an address somebody generated in early July:

peter@skapet:~/www_sider$ grep /var/log/spamd
Sep 29 15:58:07 skapet spamd[20795]: 
connected (5/4)
Sep 29 15:58:21 skapet spamd[20795]: (GREY) 
<> -> 
Sep 29 15:58:22 skapet spamd[20795]: 
disconnected after 15 seconds.
Sep 29 15:58:35 skapet spamd[20795]: 
onnected (4/3)
Sep 29 15:58:49 skapet spamd[20795]: (GREY) 
<> -> 
Sep 29 15:58:50 skapet spamd[20795]: 
disconnected after 15 seconds.
Sep 29 15:59:03 skapet spamd[20795]: 
connected (5/3)
Sep 29 15:59:17 skapet spamd[20795]: (GREY) 
<> -> <>
Sep 29 15:59:18 skapet spamd[20795]: 
disconnected after 15 seconds.
Sep 29 15:59:30 skapet spamd[20795]: 
connected (6/5), lists: spamd-greytrap
Sep 29 16:03:14 skapet spamd[20795]: (BLACK) 
<> -> 
Sep 29 16:04:59 skapet spamd[20795]: 
From: "Marguerite Casey" <>
Sep 29 16:04:59 skapet spamd[20795]: 
To: <>
Sep 29 16:04:59 skapet spamd[20795]: 
Subject: 100mg x 60 pills US $ 129.95 buy now
Sep 29 16:06:04 skapet spamd[20795]: 
disconnected after 394 seconds. lists: spamd-greytrap

I have no real opinion on the validity of the From: addresses, but the address they are trying their best to deliver spam to here never actually existed, of course. The first record of it at was this bounce from a Russian site:

Jul 12 23:38:52 delilah spamd[29851]: (GREY) 
<> -> <>

Dumping their trash back at them is good for a laugh, and I am quite amazed how shortsighted the spambot operators appear to be. They get yelled at for spamming, so to avoid detection, they start using fake addresses. This in turn means they have no feedback whatsoever on the quality of their address lists, and with well pissers like me in action, they are getting less effectitive each day, reducing themselves to background noise in the network.

Now with this blog post done I will go back and finish the edits on the logs chapter. With the early parts of the book about to enter the layout phase while the last bits get written over the next few days, there is a chance that there will be a physical copies of the book to pass around at OpenCON. Not quite there yet, but the fulltime push is certainly helping. The preface with a list of thanks is part of what is entering layout; I think a few people who did not expect to be in there will soon have a pleasant surprise.

Also this week, the PF tutorial saw its unique visitor number 19,000 since EuroBSDCon 2006 on Thursday morning (September 27th). We certainly hope at least some of them will come back for the book.

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