How to Post to Newsgroups Without Getting spammed?

Posted on January 8, 2009 by Daniel Petri in Security with 0 Comments

How should I post messages to newsgroups without getting spam and viruses?

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Newsgroups allow you to “post” messages (called a “posting”), respond to others’ posts, and even download files they’ve left there for you, all when it’s most convenient for you. Usenet has tens of thousands of newsgroups on every topic you can imagine. Several conversations, called threads, are usually going on at once in any group; participants take these discussions seriously and often respond to anything they see written (“posted”) to the group.

Newsgroups are a great knowledge resource used by many IT pros all over the world. However, one major drawback of newsgroups is the fact that they are also being used by spammers and viruses to find their next victim. Instead of looking for advice, spammers and viruses are looking for an email address. Spammers use customized applications to find out text parts in the body that contains an @ sign. Viruses are also looking for this. But that is not the only thing in the message they are interested in, they are also interested in the From and Sender part (which contains your email address). So, by writing you e-mail address anywhere in the message, is like saying “Hey, send me some spam and viruses!”.

To make life harder for spammers and viruses you should make sure you never write your real e-mail address in the body part, and never use your real e-mail address when sending to a newsgroup.

To remove your real e-mail address from your future posts please follow these steps:

Note: The following instructions are written for Outlook Express. If you use another news reader, please RTFM.

  1. Start Outlook Express.
  2. Click on Tools->Accounts.
  3. Click on the News tab, highlight the account you want to change this information for and click Properties.
  4. Change the E-mail address field to something that is not a valid email address (also change the Reply address field or leave it blank).

  1. Click OK, click Close

But what if you actually want people to be able to contact you and send you e-mail off the newsgroup boundaries? To do that we need to play a little game. Since spammers and viruses use a program to hunt and harvest e-mail addresses from newsgroup posts we need to write our e-mail address in a form that will fool these programs no matter how sophisticated they are. Remember, a human is still smarter than an application

One method of tricking the spammer e-mail harvesting software is to writes your e-mail address in the form of:

[email protected]

A human is smart enough (or so we hope) to remove the part that was inserted into the address.

However, since removethis is such a common word to include, an application might sooner or later understand that it should actually remove that text. You may want to put some other words there instead, words like deletethispart, removethisword, no.spam.remove.me and so on.

To make things ever more complicated for the spammer, we can use simple textual instructions for writing the e-mail address, instructions such as:

“Please reply to my realfirstname at the domain called petri, under co inside il.”

Any normal human will easily be able to reply if he or she still has some brain cells inside his or her skull…

By following this simple advice you stand a chance to reduce the number of viruses and spam emails sent to your e-mail account.

If you have already made the mistake and used your real e-mail address you should still make the change and stop using it right away. Although newsgroups are public and are replicated to news servers all over the world, if enough time passes your real e-mail address might be eventually deleted from these servers because of content expiration policies used by the servers to delete older posts.

To make the advice complete you should always use an updated and trusted antivirus software, and make sure that real-time scanning is enabled. Also, install spam blocking tools and make sure you backup your e-mail server as often as needed.

Note: Tip was modified from an original article written by Kristofer Gafvert.

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