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A Dispatch

« "Just When You've Seen It All" Department | Main | A Verse to Spam »

July 25, 2005

The Art of the "Joe-Job"

Here is the Spam Wars glossary definition for a "Joe-job":

Joe-job A tactic of a spammer to make a spam barrage appear to originate from the mail server of an enemy, or list the enemy’s Web site as a spamvertiser in the hopes that thousands of bounce messages and complaints will land at the target’s feet. Named after an attack on the joes.com domain.

This definition was the furthest thing from my mind when I received an odd little spamlet, whose body (sans URL) reads as follows:

Try jwSpamSpy, our spam filter for POP3 mailboxes.
We use it to track spammers and scammers.
Free full featured 30 day evaluation version available!

The link was to a Web site with a .de (Germany) country-specific top-level domain. I had not heard of the jwSpamSpy product, but, then, I don't claim to have evaluated every spam tool in existence. I was ready to lambaste this spam for using spam to sell an anti-spam tool. Perhaps it wasn't really an anti-spam tool, but just some kind of malware installer.

Before I hit the keys to flame away, I dug a little deeper (without visiting the site, as is my rule). It didn't take long to uncover that jwSpamSpy is a real product, and its developer has been gathering extensive data on spamvertised Web site domain names, supplying those names to one of the blocklists that some blended spam filters use. He also publishes—out in the open—his extensive list so that anyone can use those domains in their custom filtering, if they so choose.

From everything I could uncover, this fellow is a Good Guy, and wouldn't be caught dead using spam to promote his own product. Was this spam message a Joe-job?


Apparently this guy—Joe Wein is his name—has touched a raw nerve or two among spammers. Whatever he's doing must be working. Unfortunately he has to fend off the unfortunate byproduct of being Joe jobbed (what with automated spam reporting not understanding the subtleties of the art), but at least his effort is not for naught.

And that someone named Joe is being Joe-jobbed also has a bit of humor attached to it. There is no need to change the term.

Posted on July 25, 2005 at 10:55 AM