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China and its Relation With Spam 373

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the but-i-don't-like-spam dept.
smooth wombat writes "Asia Times has a nice article about why China is becoming the spam capital of the world. Steve Linford, of Spamhaus fame, is quoted several times in the article and offers some insight into how the Chinese ISPs operate. Steves quote at the end of the article pretty much sums up why China isn't doing anything to curb the hosting of spam website servers in the country: "They simply don't want to know - China Telecom doesn't care because they're government-owned and there is no pressure coming from the government. Meanwhile, our statistics on spam volumes and the number of spammers setting up in China are going up and up and up.""
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China and its Relation With Spam

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  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Monday December 13, 2004 @02:31PM (#11074032) Homepage Journal
    But I was thinking more along the lines of Yummy Hot and Spicy Chinese Spam:

    SPAM(TM) Hot & Spicy Stir-Fry
    Makes 6 servings

    Ingredients
    1/3 cup reduced-sodium teriyaki sauce
    1/3 cup water
    2 to 3 teaspoons HOUSE OF TSANG® MONGOLIAN FIRE® Oil
    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    1 (12-ounce) can SPAM® Lite, cubed
    1 cup broccoli florets
    1 cup chopped onion
    1 cup pea pods
    1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
    1 tablespoon plus 1-1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
    1 (14-ounce) can whole baby corn, drained and cut in half
    1 (7-ounce) jar mushrooms, drained
    6 cups hot cooked white rice

    In small bowl, combine teriyaki sauce, water, Chinese hot oil and ginger; set aside. In wok or large skillet, stir-fry SPAM®, broccoli, onion, pea pods and bell pepper in vegetable oil 2 minutes. Add teriyaki sauce mixture; cook until bubbly. Add baby corn and mushrooms; heat thoroughly. Serve over rice.

  • by teiresias (101481) on Monday December 13, 2004 @02:31PM (#11074037)
    Which is suprising considering the Government control on all things media.

    From: Confusious
    To: teiresias

    Subject: Ancient Chinese Proverb

    Body: "Increase your penis size with ginger root and secret ingredient. Act now and get a free webcam. Did I mention it make your wang huge!"
  • The source? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AndyBassTbn (789174) on Monday December 13, 2004 @02:32PM (#11074044) Homepage
    Because of this, it is now meaningless to say that spam itself originates in any given place - it is truly a cyber-product.

    No, I think the source has remained unchanged - the pocketbooks of those willing to actually pay for the schwag sold via SPAM email. As long as people are willing to pay for herbal Viagra, cheap mortgages, etc. based on spam, so too will spam annoy the rest of us.
    • "As long as people are willing to pay for herbal Viagra...based on spam"

      You mean herbal Viagra is made from Spam??! Does the FDA know about this? Why hasn't Spam started an ad campaign about this? "Eat Spam and grow large in TWO places!"

    • Re:The source? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jxyama (821091) on Monday December 13, 2004 @02:49PM (#11074247)
      >As long as people are willing to pay for herbal Viagra, cheap mortgages, etc. based on spam, so too will spam annoy the rest of us.

      not quite. spam will exist as long there are advertisers who believe there are people who are willing to pay for junk stuff based on spam. advertizing - all it takes is the belief that it's doing something, at least until the money runs dry.

    • Well if you look at the numbers for spam the people who are actually buying the crap is very small like 0.001% So that is 1 in a Thousand People who buy this stuff. Unfortunatly with Billions of people on the internet. That is still a lot of sales. For this population of people no amount of education reform or laws will change this. Because the 1 in a thousand person is so dumb that they will not learn from anything. What would be good is to see where there people buy the stuff so we can see where the la
      • by klipsch_gmx (737375) on Monday December 13, 2004 @03:06PM (#11074460)
        the people who are actually buying the crap is very small like 0.001% So that is 1 in a Thousand People who buy this stuff.

        I salute you, sir.
      • people who are actually buying the crap is very small like 0.001%

        Not according to Forrester Research [theregister.co.uk] it's not. At first glance, Forrester's figures seem impossibly high, but it did make me think about what the figures we hear about spam actually mean. Basically, that "0.001%" figure is the number of spams that generate a response, but if each respondant to one spam in a thousand, then 1% of spam recipients are buying from spam. Think about how many spams are being sent, and all of a sudden Forrester's

  • Governments (Score:2, Funny)

    by Kipsaysso (828105)
    Ironically if the spammers make more money in China then the internet will be more profitable there then in a Capitalist society.
    • For some governments, it is better to separate their administrative policies from their economic policies. China for instance has had economic reforms for about 20 years, and it's now capitalist in all but name. Its administration is still (for want of a better word) totalitarian (by which I mean that the government tends to control, or want to control, every aspect of its citizens' lives), but it can't fairly be called Communist.

      On an sidenote, we may now ponder about whether introduction of Capitalism m
  • Steves quote...

    Or lack thereof...
  • no mail of value (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lophophore (4087) on Monday December 13, 2004 @02:35PM (#11074081) Homepage
    I get no mail of any value from China. I don't know anybody there. So I don't feel bad about automatically trashing all mail that originates in Chinese netblocks. It's amazing the effect that has had on what spam I actually see.

    If everybody did this, it could become a real problem for the Chinese. (duh)

    • by glesga_kiss (596639)
      I get no mail of any value from China. I don't know anybody there. So I don't feel bad about automatically trashing all mail that originates in Chinese netblocks.

      What if you had a friend traveling over there, that had to get in touch with you? Or someones company switches hosting to a .cn company. Or a mail gets relayed through a .cn mail server as the regular one is down for maintainence?

      I guess you'll never know. Oh, your mom called; you didn't reply to her mail about the free first-class tickets sh

      • If mom can call, why did she send an email? When her son didn't reply, why not call then?

        Your logic makes no sense. Your racism (your concern about racism barely masks it) is showing.
        • f mom can call, why did she send an email? When her son didn't reply, why not call then?

          I was (trying to) be funny. Funny comments don't always make logical sense.

          Your logic makes no sense. Your racism (your concern about racism barely masks it) is showing.

          Because I dislike the way that the vast majority of Americans treat China, that makes me racist? How'dya figure? I don't like the way you treat Arabs either, does that make me Hitler?

          If you are in any doubt of the usual anti-Chinese sentiment wit

      • by Croaker (10633) on Monday December 13, 2004 @03:56PM (#11075001)
        What if you had a friend traveling over there, that had to get in touch with you?

        Likely, that friend would use an internet cafe to connect to his/her hotmail or whatever account, and shoot of the email. The email would originate from the hotmail (or whoever) mail server, not from a chinese netblock. Not a problem.

        Or someones company switches hosting to a .cn company.

        The result is no different than if a company switches to an ISP that is known to be spam-friendly... they will usually get bounces stating "Your mail was refused because your subnet is blocked for spamming," or something similar. In which case, the company had best rethink its choice of ISP.

        Or a mail gets relayed through a .cn mail server as the regular one is down for maintainence?

        How often is mail rerouted these days? Especially to a server in a different country, likely on a different continent? I can't recall ever seeing this. Usually mail is held until the mail server comes back up. The mailserver going down is one of those things guaranteed to get the IT people awoken in the middle of the night, so its downtime isn't going to be long anyhow.

        Oh, your mom called; you didn't reply to her mail about the free first-class tickets she was going to send you to visit her; so you missed out.

        Any idiot who relies entirely on email for transmission of important information pretty much gets what he/she deserves when there's a snafu and the email is lost. That's why really important things, such as the "DMCA take down notices" sent out by lawyers are always sent both via email and snail mail.

    • Re:no mail of value (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dubl-u (51156) *
      So I don't feel bad about automatically trashing all mail that originates in Chinese netblocks.

      I'm not willing to go that far, but I do assign a 1.5 point penalty (out of 5) to all Chinese and Korean IP space. It has made a substantial difference as spammers get smarter about skirting Bayesian filters.
    • You misunderstand. (Score:5, Informative)

      by pavon (30274) on Monday December 13, 2004 @03:29PM (#11074677)
      The spam is not comming from china - china is simply hosting the spammer's websites. Here is the spam ecology:

      American spammers pay Russian crackers to write viruses. These viruses infect Windows machines across the world. The spammers use the zombie machines to send spam which link to websites hosted in China. This has been the prototypical arrangement for many years.
    • by kawika (87069) on Monday December 13, 2004 @03:58PM (#11075023)
      Try that in the IT department of WalMart. You'd be booted back to Dogpatch USA when they found out you blocked all the Chinese domains, cutting them off from every one of their suppliers!
  • ...I just started blocking IP subnets from china...

    Actually, after reviewing logs on my firewall I found a lot of brute force attacks coming from Korea, and only a few from China, so most subnets blocked are Korean owned. But, needless to say, I'm spam free.
    • I had some problems on and off for a week or two with a few addresses in Japan. Only like an hour at a time and was no match for my OpenBSD pf and my fantastic (simple) ruleset. It was a few hours at a time, then began to trail off. Not really anythnig to block a whole subnet for, don't you think you might be overreacting a little.
    • by Zocalo (252965) on Monday December 13, 2004 @02:52PM (#11074296) Homepage
      I pretty much have all of China (and a few other countries) blacklisted, in the case of China this is both at the .cn ccTLD domain and their IP allocations from APNIC. Yes, it's draconian, but I can (and do) permit specific IPs if need be and it keeps the spam *way* down. If enough people were to do this, especially at ISP level, then that's going to start having an impact of the ability of Chinese companies to trade with the rest of the world. Should that happen, how long do you think it would take for the Chinese government to take notice, and subsequently some action?

      Of course, that's when the payback happens, because it's going to take more than a promise to be good to convince many admins to remove a blacklist entry, null route, or whatever. It basically boils down to a choice between quick money from dodgy spammers now, or long-term money from serious business investments further down the road. At the moment, it sure looks like the Japanese are the only ones that have really grasped the concept of long term business plans being better than cash now; tomorrow's problems belong to someone else.

  • by RealAlaskan (576404) on Monday December 13, 2004 @02:37PM (#11074110) Homepage Journal
    Is there any reason not to ban all mail originating from (or relayed through) addresses in China? I supose that big universities have a lot of students who use email to keep in touch with family in China, but most ISPs could probably do this without any harm to their customers.

    If you were willing to put some effort into it, you could combine it with a whitelist, which would allow your Chinese customers to get email from the old country.

    Wait a minute ... effort, ISP ... those two don't go together. Ok, never mind about the whitelist.

    • Is there any reason not to ban all mail originating from (or relayed through) addresses in China? I supose that big universities have a lot of students who use email to keep in touch with family in China, but most ISPs could probably do this without any harm to their customers.

      The problem is that the spam email usually isn't sent from China. It originates from Brazil, or Argentina, or one of the many, many zombie PCs out there. China is just willing to host the spammer's website.

      This is why I've be

      • The problem is that the spam email usually isn't sent from China. It originates from Brazil, or Argentina, or one of the many, many zombie PCs out there.

        Well, an ISP which allowed you to choose to ban email from China, Brazil, Argentina and anyplace else you don't have friends or family, would probably find that it could make a few extra bucks from the service. Or, it could be a setting in the extra-cost spam filter that most ISPs already seem to offer.

        ... find any fiber optic line that connects China


  • Keeping all the criminals in one place (China) is great. I blocklist all of China, Taiwan and Korea and don't have to worry about these trespassers. I do feel sorry for those folks that have to communicate with them, but just consider it the price of doing business.
  • 5 mod point to the person who provide a link or describes how to block the chinese ip net block.
  • by hsmith (818216) on Monday December 13, 2004 @02:40PM (#11074135)
    is go after the companies that sell their products through spam. outlaw that as an advertising form, fine companies that advertise through them and you have your solution
    • Until the fines are substantial enough, and the collection if the money is local to the sender, you're not going to see it happen.

      People are looking after their own pockets. As long as there are fools to fill them, not ever the threat of a bullet to the head is going to deter them if its in some other jurisdiction.
  • by hellfire (86129) <deviladv AT gmail DOT com> on Monday December 13, 2004 @02:40PM (#11074140) Homepage
    Only two dozen posts in and I see half of them appear to suggest blocking email from China. This is a good individual solution on an ISP by ISP basis but not a good universal solution. Businesses have to deal with other businesses in China, and well there are plenty of families who legitimately want to email from China to the US and back.

    Any solution that involves blocking everything from China won't work for everyone, and every solution that tries to selectively opt in or selectively block from China is a greater expense to set up.

    Considering most of the spam originating from China is poured into the US, and the money's paid to the ISPs are money flowing from out of the US economy and into China's, I hardly think they will care any time soon.
    • Blocking all traffic from china while draconian, will fix the problem faster than anything else. If china can no longer do business with the US because of their spam policies, the business sector in china will quickly put pressure on the gov't to change the situation and it will change.
    • Its an old-fashioned boycott. Once the ISPs begin to freak out that no one is getting their mail or able to access their sites then it might change their mind in regards to policing spam.

      I'm all for it as a temporary "show of force" solution.
    • Only two dozen posts in and I see half of them appear to suggest blocking email from China.

      I suggested blocking all traffic. If they want to host spammers' web sites, then block web traffic. If they want to communicate over IRC with zombie machines to send spam, then block IRC. Just block everything for a week and watch the sudden interest on the part of China to deal with the spam problem.

      This is a good individual solution on an ISP by ISP basis but not a good universal solution. Businesses have to
      • Why not bomb the bastards too? Seems like a good partiotic response.

        Most people responsible for sending spam are based in the US... According to network management firm Sandvine, about 80% of spam is now sent via legions of PCs owned by ordinary - and usually oblivious - computer users around the world.

        From the article.
    • by bani (467531) on Monday December 13, 2004 @03:26PM (#11074639)
      It's called behavior modification.

      Right now, chinese ISPs simply don't give a shit. Because spam isn't "their" problem. You're the victim, not them. So why should they give a shit?

      The only way to make them give a shit, is to make it their problem. By blocking all email from china, you force them to come to terms with the problem.

      If their customers can't email anyone outside of china, and their customers start raising hell about it, maybe then they will finally start dumping the criminals from their networks.

      Wasn't all that long ago that chinanet ran a lying autoresponder for abuse@chinanet that responded to every complaint with:

      "In your SPAM eMail,I can't find the IP or the IP is not by my control.Please give me the correct IP.Thank you." [google.com]

      No wonder china gets blocked?

      Until china's abusive attitude changes, they will become more and more widely blocked. They are hellbent on turning their entire country into a LAN, who are we to argue with them?
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Monday December 13, 2004 @02:42PM (#11074168)
    > "They simply don't want to know - China Telecom doesn't care because they're government-owned and there is no pressure coming from the government.

    550 - Thank you for your support of the steganographic communications payment protocol.
    550 - Your continued support of Falun Dafa [Falun Gong] in the face of continued oppression from the butchers of Beijing is appreciated.
    550 - The following token shall constitute both a receipt for your payment and a public key with which you may send your next message to your allies in the resistance.
    550 - KEYBLOCK 6x5 F81IZ FOLG3 VOLSX CIOP3 F7JJ2 EYMNX

    Now, is it my fault if my crontab edits the last line of that message to a different series of random characters every 30 seconds? Is it my fault if the owner of the spam-relaying machine is... dealt with... in the name of protecting his fellow citizens from mysticism and supersition?

    Hmm, I suppose it is.

    But hey, there's a critical shortage of corneal and kidney transplants. And a critical oversupply of server administrators who support spammers. I'm just the invisible hand of the market, smoothing out the discrepancies.

  • by acceleriter (231439) on Monday December 13, 2004 @02:43PM (#11074172)
    to a Chinese originated spam or to a Chinese spamvertised website. Since they ignore reports and are happy to collect spammers' dollars, I figure the outside chance one might get a bullet to the head is the best that can be hoped for:
    (first in probably very bad Chinese, thanks to Babelfish)


    Dear Spamhaus,

    You have won our promotion in the FREE TIBET, Falun Gong, Remember Tiananmen, rebellion against the Glorious Communist State Sweepstakes!

    The number on the bullet (free to you, billed to your family), which will hopefully go through your head when the censors in your godless heathen illegitimate bastard country who can filter out everything except spam see this, is 7417.

    Congratulations!
  • You mean they don't check outgoing e-mails, which might have anti-Communist content? Gasp!
  • Slightly off topic, but do people here seem to have a problem with getting spam in every language under the sun?
    So far I have receieved spam in:
    Chinese
    Russian
    German
    Urdu(Maybe, I'm not sure what it was, something that looked south Asian)
    French
    and Japanese(which recently has been almost every day all about the same thing, some girl meeting club or something, probably run by the Yakuza)
    I have only been to a country that speaks one of those languages, and yet I get spam in all of them, fascinating.....m
    • Youre' not getting Spanish spam from Argentina? I got on a list down there, & get a lot of n00b spam with real email addresses for the responses. I like to fill up their hotmail boxes with a lot of 900kb responses, with their own email as the sender and reply-to in case it bounces. But getting off that list is like trying to get rid of herpes.
    • I get tons of spam in Chinese, Korean and Russian. Why, I have no idea. I can only guess that my email address is on the lists that spammers sell to each other, and that they are too lazy to use lists targeted at users who can actually read their spam.
  • I have no family, contacts, or business in China. I do not speak Mandarin or Cantonese or any other Chinese dialect. There are no domestic businesses, as far as I know, whose Web content is hosted in China.

    It therefore does me no harm whatsoever to blacklist the entire country. Using blackholes.us as a foundation, I built procmail rules to accomplish this. Whenever the occasional spam message of Chinese origin reaches me, I make another change to the rules. As it is, my procmail.log shows fifteen to forty-
    • Replying to one's own message is lame, I know, but I wanted to clarify: "There are no domestic businesses with whom I want to trade, as far as I know, whose Web content is hosted in China."
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In addition to blocking spam, we mod our /etc/hosts.allow to keep these systems from connecting to many services:

    ALL:61.0.0.0/255.0.0.0:deny
    ALL:62.0.0.0/255.0. 0.0:deny
    ALL:80.0.0.0/255.0.0.0:deny
    ALL:81.0.0. 0/255.0.0.0:deny
    ALL:82.0.0.0/255.0.0.0:deny ..etc..

    It's better to block, then individually authorize. Most of the Chinese IPs are not only spamming, but constantly probing for vulnerabilities in SSL, SSH, FTP and other services.
    • by zeux (129034) *
      One of the biggest ISP in Europe is using ip addresses that matches 82.0.0.0/255.0.0.0 so I think you are stopping email from Europe too.

      But maybe you don't want it either.
  • Time to declare an all-out Internet WAR!

    Now, if someone can translate the "Arts of War" into for Internet uses, we'd win.

  • Quite soon the chineese government won't have to try to censor the net. The western world will just filter off all the traffic coming from China, doing the job much more efficiently.
  • by tacocat (527354) <tallison1@twmi.C ... m minus caffeine> on Monday December 13, 2004 @03:00PM (#11074394)

    This is all very interesting, and I was even thinking to just block the asian nations would solve a lot of spam. But then I realized that I don't get much spam from there.

    Most of my spam, greater than 90%, comes from the zombied US DSL machines as proof of their addresses when trying to connect I believe a large portion of the spam that exists also links back to chinese websites, not delivered from chinese mail servers.

    I recently turned on greylisting and all the viagra/herbal/biggus diccus stuff is 100% gone. Not one in a week, normally there are >30 per day. Now all my spam is from France and somewhere in Asia. But that's like 2 a day.

  • http://www.okean.com/thegoods.html

    I thought someone might find the link useful.
  • whereas the US, the actual number 1 spamming country, is doing so much isn't it?

    but China is far away isn't it? the US passing the CAN-SPAM act was just a random fluke, China isn't stomping out spam because THEY ARE EEEEEVVVVVIIILLLL!!!!1*

    *if they do do something, they are anti-free speech, anti-business EEEEEEVVVVVVIIIILLLL!!!!!!111 commie scum.
  • by Samrobb (12731) on Monday December 13, 2004 @03:08PM (#11074468) Homepage Journal
    They simply don't want to know - China Telecom doesn't care because they're government-owned and there is no pressure coming from the government.

    "We don't care. We don't have to. We're the phone company."

    -
    Lily Tomlin [brainyquote.com] (as Ernestine the operator on SNL)
  • How hard would it be to impliment filtering that scanned email bodies for links to China, Korea, and Taiwan and then filter those emails out? Would it be hard to impliment this in spamassassin or such?
  • by Indy1 (99447) <spamtrap@fuckedregime.com> on Monday December 13, 2004 @03:25PM (#11074635) Homepage
    I stop noticing Asia being a spam problem after this sucker got put into use.

    http://mail.btfh.net/asia-spam.txt/ [btfh.net]
  • I suggest you reply to them in the following manner via a disposable email account:
    --
    Received your coded message. Operation "Rx Meds" is on track. Further supplies for Tibet liberation front will be delivered via usual contacts when in cases marked "Herbal Viagra" when payment in full received via cook island account.

    Long live free Tibet!!
    Long live Falun Gong!!

    --

    Rest assured, with all the net monitoring that goes on, their government WILL put him out of business, or at least you will keep him up at night waiting for a knock on the door.

  • by rodentia (102779) on Monday December 13, 2004 @04:22PM (#11075300)
    Why not consider raising the bar. Rather than firewall Chinese IP blocks, make it a boycott. Block all traffic originating in China. Publicize it and while you're at it, boycott Cisco, Oracle, Bill Clinton and all the freedom loving US corporations and politicians that enabled the Great Firewall of China. Put those bastards behind a global TCP/IP boycott and we can move them off their totalitarian ways right quick.

    Should take about a week or two, by my reckoning.
  • by Matt Perry (793115) <perry.matt54@ya h o o.com> on Monday December 13, 2004 @04:25PM (#11075334)
    Add this to sendmail.mc:

    # Really give the Chinese Spammers a mouthful...
    changequote([[,]])dnl
    define([[confSMTP_LOGIN_MSG]], [[EFGIC: U.S. Congress Condemns China's Oppression of Falun Gong on\nU.S. Soil and in China\n\nHouse Concurrent Resolution 304 calls on China's agents in\n the United States to halt all operations being carried out against\n practitioners of Falun Gong on United States' soil, as well as the brutal\n persecution of millions inside China.\n\nLONDON (EFGIC) - Last week, the US Congress introduced a concurrent\n resolution calling on the Chinese government to end its brutal\n persecution of Falun Gong in China and stop all activities against Falun\n Gong practitioners inside the United States.\n House Concurrent Resolution 304 (full text), introduced by Congresswoman\n Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, references China's own constitution and\n international human rights accords in calling for China to uphold\n freedom of belief, assembly, and speech for the millions of Falun Gong\n practitioners in Mainland China.\n Resolution 304 also specifically mentioned section 401(a)(1)(B) of the\n International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6401(a)(1)(B)):\n \"Whereas the Constitution of the United States guarantees freedom of\n religion, the right to assemble, and the right to speak freely, and the\n people of the United States strongly value protecting the ability of all\n people to live without fear and in accordance with their personal\n beliefs...\"\n Harassment, libel, and imprisonment have been widespread in\n Jiang Zemin's four-year campaign to eradicate Falun Gong. Torture and\n abuse in custody have led to thousands of wrongful deaths.\n]])dnl
    changequote(`,')dnl

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