Tuesday, June 19, 2007

How I became a "super-fan" of Robert Alan Soloway

In my last post I wrote about my first "meeting" with Robert Alan Soloway and his steady stream of spam messages advertising his email broadcasting services.

As I had discovered that there was really not any standard ways to contact him I started to fill in some "fake orders" on his website, and in what should have been the textarea used to specify the service you wanted to have advertised through his email service , I instead typed in an appeal to have my email adresses removed from his emailing lists. It was also during this ordering that I noticed that even though he claimed high security and ssl encryption in the ordering process then in fact no part of the site was using ssl, not even when typing in your credit card information, so had I typed in real credit card information it would in fact have been send non-encrypted over the internet. There was no response to my request and in fact what happened was that instead of getting removed from his emailing lists then I actually started receiving other spam mails advertising viagra and other kind of pharmaceutical products. I can't prove that Soloway sold my email addresses to other spammers or that he was maybe behind the new spam messages, but I seriously do suspect so.

This only added to my irritation towards Soloway and I started taking new methods in use

  • Automatically submitting high numbers of "fake orders" where I was asking for removal of my email addresses. This only resultet in Soloway blocking my ip-address and instead of order confirmation I now received a notice that he would log my illegal acitivites and get me convicted, same as he had successfully done with 13 other persons within the last 2 months. Of course I knew this was just a big lie just as everything else regarding his "business"
  • I started sending complaints to those domain registration + hosting companies supplying Soloway with domain names and hosting services. There was many different companies as Soloway was shifting a lot between different domains and different hosting providers, but I will not mention those companies here as it's history. Some providers showed responsibility and cancelled services to Soloway but others, mainly chineese, did not care about the complaints at all.
  • I started to forward all the spam messages received to the Federal Trade Commission (spam@uce.gov). Read more at http://www.ftc.gov/spam

I had now earned myself a title as "fan" of Robert Alan Soloway.

One day when submitting another request for removal (fake order) on Soloway's website I came to think of that maybe Soloway was opening the orders inside the browser, so I added an html image tag to the information submitted with a url pointing back to an imaginary image on one of my servers. Shortly after I could see in the log that the image was requested from ip address 66.235.10.215 belonging to Millenium Digital Media, Seattle, Washington. After running same "test" a few times I was sure, Soloway was using Millenium as provider for his internet connection and I submitted a abuse report to Millenium but did never get any response.

At another time I noticed that sometimes Soloway was using a botnet (network of zombie computers) to host his sites and those zombie computers had a very old version of MyDNS installed, which is quite unsecure + unstable (newer versions should be a lot better). Infact so unsecure than when I was just playing around I ones, non intentially of course, did end up misconfiguring the DNS to point to one of my sites, where I was doing a little "advertising" for Soloway and his illegal activities. Lot of people did for 5-6 hours get redirected to my site instead of Soloways, when clicking link in his spam messages, before he got my mistake fixed. On other occasions I again, non intentially of course, was the direct reason for the MyDNS servers failing to respond.... very unstable version as I wrote. :-)

At the same time I was still systematically forwarding all Soloway's spam messages to the Federal Trade Commission, complaining to companies supplying Soloway with domain registration, hosting, email and other internet services etc.

I had now earned myself a title as "super-fan" of Robert Alan Soloway.

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