Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

Discussing Internet security in (mostly) plain English

  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    My views on SOPA

    • 9 Comments
    During my 4-part series write up on SOPA, I approached it with a neutral tone.  I was hearing from everywhere that it was a horrible piece of legislation, but I wanted to find out for myself.  The goal was to look at it from the technical perspective...
  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    Microsoft offers to buy Yahoo

    • 9 Comments
    Last Friday, Microsoft made an unsolicited offer to buy Yahoo for $31 per share, representing over a 50% premium from Yahoo's then-share price. Leaving aside the question of whether or not this is a good deal, and what Microsoft's true motivations are...
  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    July 12 - My third year anniversary!

    • 9 Comments
    Today is a special day at Microsoft, it is the three-year anniversary of the day I joined Frontbridge (now Microsoft Exchange Hosted Services) as a spam analyst. Ah, what a memorable three years it has been. On our first day on the job, me and three...
  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    Free spam hosting

    • 9 Comments
    Bulletproof spam hosting services (ie, internet service providers that will host your site and ignore spam complaints) are one of the techniques that spammers use to put up spam sites.  Knowing that their provider will never take them down, they...
  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    I am finally experimenting with a password manager. Here are the results so far.

    • 9 Comments
    I’ve been aware of password managers for years but I never used one – I was skeptical. While I understand their benefits, I always thought they would be too inconvenient to use. I’m going to assume that you’re aware of what these things are – little pieces...
  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    Strengths and weaknesses

    • 9 Comments
    From time to time, I like to reflect upon my own personal strengths and weaknesses.  I may be a spam fighter, but I'm also a professional working within Microsoft and I want grow my entire asset base of skills, not just in spam analysis. You know...
  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    Publicly available spam tool

    • 9 Comments
    A colleague alerted me to a spamming tool available on the web at the following web URL: http://verify-email. org It's a page that allows someone to enter in an email address and it will tell you whether or not that email address is live. In essence...
  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    The most dangerous celebrities

    • 9 Comments
    Reuters has an article up today on the most dangerous celebrities on the web.  Topping this year’s list is Cameron Diaz: NEW YORK (Reuters) - She may be known for her playful giggles and killer looks, but now movie star Cameron Diaz has become the...
  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    When 99% isn't good enough

    • 9 Comments
    The other day, I was taking a look at some of our traffic statistics.  One of the challenges that I have is determining what our catch rate is.  We know how much traffic we see (more or less), we know how much we catch with blocklists and we...
  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    ZDNet: 1.5m spam emails sent from compromised University accounts

    • 9 Comments
    Box of Meat antispam blog has a link to an article on ZDNet: 1.5m spam emails sent from compromised University accounts .  Some excerpts: “Hackers gained access to the University of Otago staff email server recently and used it to send out...
  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    What’s worse than paid for antivirus? Free antivirus

    • 8 Comments
    Recently, Microsoft started packaging its free antivirus software Microsoft Security Essentials with its Windows Update service.  This is a smart move, right?  Users who don’t have any A/V protection would now have something and therefore they...
  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    Trouble at SORBS

    • 8 Comments
    The Register reports today that a glitch on the SORBS blocklist over the past 24 hours ended up causing many thousands of legitimate emails to be blocked: The problems at SORBS — short for the Spam and Open Relay Blocking System — began on Wednesday and...
  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    State AGs: Craiglist should drop adult services

    • 8 Comments
    I found this story today on the Associated Press: HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- State attorneys general nationwide are demanding that Craigslist remove its adult services section because they say the website cannot adequately block potentially illegal ads....
  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    Strange legal requirements

    • 8 Comments
    Some of this stuff I couldn't make up if I tried... With all the hoopla about the David Ritz case (which I will blog about in a future post), I thought I'd remark about a very strange legal requirement about filtering mail.  As usual, this unreasonable...
  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    Can a computer fight spam better than a human?

    • 8 Comments
    In this blog, I sometimes try to point out the similarities between stock trading and spam fighting.  I happen to trade stocks (but never take tips I receive by email, not even in The Motley Fool) and I find that the two activities have things in common...
  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    Accurate metrics

    • 8 Comments
    This past week, I started coming up with some new metrics on how to measure our effectiveness, specifically, our spam effectiveness. The way Hotmail does it is use a metric called Spam-in-the-inbox, or SITI for short.  It is a measure of the proportion...
  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    Are there any anti-spam conferences coming up?

    • 7 Comments
    I was reading an article by Neil Schwartzman, brought to my attention by John R. Levine on the Planet Antispam blog, entitled Trench Warfare in the Age of The Laser-guided Missile . In the article, Schwartzman brings up the point that spammers and virus...
  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    EU fines Microsoft record $1.3 billion

    • 7 Comments
    Originally from Yahoo Finance : BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Union fined Microsoft Corp. a record $1.3 billion Wednesday for the amount it charges rivals for software information. EU regulators said the company charged "unreasonable prices"...
  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    If you give stuff away for free, people will abuse it

    • 7 Comments
    In what is starting to sound like a broken record, one of my favorite companies, Google, is being abused by spammers - again. First we found spam blogs in Blogspot, then we found spam coming from Gmail users, and now I have found a third abuse - spammers...
  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    Gmail has an interesting idea to thwart spammers

    • 7 Comments
    A reader sent me a link to a list of points that make Gmail really great.  I'm not sure whether or not these points are enough to convince me that Gmail is fantastic, but I admit that it does do some things well (Hotmail does a few things well, also...
  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    Google maps vs Live maps

    • 7 Comments
    This post is not spam related, but I'd still like to talk about it. For the longest time, I always used Google maps as my map-interface of choice whenever I wanted to search for a location.  I thought that it had the best user interface. I think...
  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    How much do botnets re-use their IPs?

    • 7 Comments
    One of the assumptions that I have long held about botnets is that they grab a compromised computer, spam it like crazy and then abandon it once it lands on an RBL.  Eventually, this RBL delists it due to dormant activity, and later on the botnet...
  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    How much do spammers actually make?

    • 7 Comments
    Spammer X is an ex-spammer who has written book called "Inside the Spam Cartel: Trade Secrets from the Dark Side."  He's a former spammer who retired in 2004 who has shared many of his tricks of the trade. He presented at the Spam Symposium...
  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    Some patterns for spam in my inboxes

    • 7 Comments
    I am lately seeing some odd patterns for spam in my various inboxes. In my Frontbridge account, I regularly see spam from Gmail and never Hotmail. In my Gmail account, I regularly see spam from Gmail but rarely anything else. In my Yahoo account, I regularly...
  • Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

    Was a CAPTCHA broken?

    • 7 Comments
    A couple of weeks ago, I blogged that some outfit in Russia claimed to have broken Yahoo's CAPTCHA for creation of new email accounts.  Someone posted a reply in the comments with a link to an article that this was unlikely.  Yet, in the past...
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