Monday, June 10, 2013

The Spider's Belch

If you have followed these blogs for any length of time, you are aware that I have what even I consider to be an unnatural obsession with internet spam, which I have been fighting with considerable success of late. I had never understood it's attraction or significance until now: internet spam is in fact the equivalent of an intricately woven spider's web, at the center of which a deadly predator awaits.

But just as spider webs are designed to draw in the weakest and most unresisting, internet spam draws in those who never, ever, stop to think before acting, who assume whatever they are told is the absolute truth, and/or who are sufficiently greedy to ignore the screaming sirens of logic. I've never known whether to pity those who are drawn in, or disgusted by them. Perhaps spiderwebs are nature's way of “thinning the herd”--a form “survival of the fittest.”

In an effort to keep myself from being drawn in, I have forced myself never, ever to even look at my spam folder...just automatically hit “delete.” But, like Lot's wife....

The creators of spam are, all evidence to the contrary, not totally stupid. But they don't have to be smart. They are predators. They have about the same I.Q. as a black widow spider, but they spin their webs with the same determination and for the same purpose.

Let us take one single, all-too-typical spam message and lay it out upon the examining table to dissect it, piece by piece. First, here is the message in its entirety:

Order Request

Thanks for your continous response to our email and your diligent work in getting our order supplied, we have three other suppliers and at  we have to select only one. Register your company profile on our supplier Portal and fill  the datasheet after logging in.
Click to download data sheet

Thanks for your cooperation
  Hussein Safwan
Purchase Manager

The first thing we observe is the “Second Coming”-size boldface “Order Request,” implying that what follows is of vital importance. That it not only is not important but makes absolutely no sense is irrelevant. (Does “order request” mean they asking you to place an order, or are they referring to an order that has, supposedly, already been placed? No matter.)

Now, this may be difficult, but carefully set aside every concept of logic you have ever had and ignore the fact that not one single thing in the entire message makes even an iota of sense.
Thanks for your continous [sic.] response to our email...” One might wonder, if one were the wondering kind, which the spammer counts on your not being, how one can “continuously” respond to a single email which was obviously never sent in the first place? They feel safe in assuming you, the recipient, are not smart enough to remember that you have never in fact heard from these people before. They said you did, so you must have.

“Company profile”??? What company? Do you have a company? They hope flattery will let you make one up. “Supplier Portal”?? “Log in”??

All leading you to the spider in the center of the web. “Click to download data sheet” in big, bold letters. Click and they have you. You are doomed.

The note is signed by “Hussein Safwan,” an exotic-sounding name that is sure to instill confidence. And we learn that Mr. Safwan is a “Purchase Manager.” Did it occur to you to wonder what he purchases, or for whom he works? Who cares? You...and you can be sure your money...are toast.

Now all you have to do is to sit back and listen for the spider's belch.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (

1 comment:

Kage Alan said...

It's a shame John couldn't help Elliott track down an internet spammer who may have downloaded documents that have marked him with a death wish. Something like that. You you could get away with some social commentary.