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[nc-impwhois] RE: [council] RE: [nc-whois] WHOIS and SPAM - survey show no connection

Extensive work on SPAM is underway in other fora. I suggest that this group note that and pay attention to those initiatives and see what they are turning up.  SPAM is a creature with lots of legs... we can benefit from other studies, etc. MC
-----Original Message-----
From: Bruce Tonkin [mailto:Bruce.Tonkin@melbourneit.com.au]
Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 10:29 PM
To: Philip Sheppard; steve@stevecrocker.com; dnssac-comment@icann.org
Cc: nc-whois@dnso.org; NC (list); Louis Touton ICANN; nc-impwhois@dnso.org
Subject: [council] RE: [nc-whois] WHOIS and SPAM - survey show no connection

Hello Philip,
Thanks for posting this information.
The FTC analysis was an interesting experiment - but be careful not to jump to too many conclusions.
For example, use of port 43 WHOIS data is often as a result of a two phase search
(1) Phase 1 - find websites that are real - ie qualify the lead
(2) Run WHOIS search against the domain name associated with the website
Just creating a random domain name, and setting up WHOIS contact data, will not necessarily pick up this usage unless the website is established and real in the first place.  There are other techniques available as well but often leave a trace.   The process above can be done reasonably anonymously.
Registrars could provide data on WHOIS usage by IP address, and this could show the amount of data mining going on (after removing IP addresses from registrars checking WHOIS for transfer authorisation purposes).  ie if WHOIS was being used as it was intended the number of queries would be close to the number of unique IP addresses, but there are often high peaks from a few IP addresses.
Note what was picked up in the analysis below, is that when a real website is established - email addresses found on that website are used.
-----Original Message-----
From: Philip Sheppard [mailto:philip.sheppard@aim.be]
Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 8:43 PM
To: steve@stevecrocker.com; dnssac-comment@icann.org
Cc: nc-whois@dnso.org; NC (list); Louis Touton ICANN
Subject: [nc-whois] WHOIS and SPAM - survey show no connection

Steve, interesting to read the Security and Stability Advisory Committee recommendation on Whois. In relation to privacy you state: "it is widely believed that Whois data is a source of e-mail addresses for the distribution of spam".  This may be a wide belief but empirical evidence from the US Federal Trade Commission tells us otherwise. See the last sentence of the note below in particular.
To find out which fields spammers consider most fertile for harvesting, investigators "seeded" 175 different locations on the Internet with 250 new, undercover email addresses. The locations included web pages, newsgroups, chat rooms, message boards, and online directories for web pages, instant message users, domain names, resumes, and dating services. During the six weeks after the postings, the accounts received 3,349 spam emails. The investigators found that:
  • 86 percent of the addresses posted to web pages received spam. It didn't matter where the addresses were posted on the page: if the address had the "@" sign in it, it drew spam.
  • 86 percent of the addresses posted to newsgroups received spam.
  • Chat rooms are virtual magnets for harvesting software. One address posted in a chat room received spam nine minutes after it first was used.

Addresses posted in other areas on the Internet received less spam, the investigators found. Half the addresses posted on free personal web page services received spam, as did 27 percent of addresses posted to message boards and nine percent of addresses listed in email service directories. Addresses posted in instant message service user profiles, "Whois" domain name registries, online resume services, and online dating services did not receive any spam during the six weeks of the investigation.


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