Monday, November 16, 2009

SPAM: Economics and Prevention

SPAM is unsolicited mail delivered to you, wasting your time and consuming resources. This applies to both physical mail and electronic ones (email).

While you're typically protected by laws against physical SPAM to a certain extent, email is uncontrollable and has been on the rise ever since it started some time in the 1990's.

Many preventative measures have been taken throughout time to fight email SPAM, but it has only worked on marginally classifying and separating your email from SPAM.

One should ask: Why do we keep receiving SPAM? How come it never stops?
A simple answer is that it's being funded!

The rise of malicious software known as worms has given the option for mischievous companies or groups to take control of thousands of user machines and use them to send SPAM to millions of users around the world.

Those shady companies or groups are charging money to promote products of other companies. Mostly drugs but may include promotions to other products.

A simple conclusion is that if you penalize companies that pay for shady groups to use such abusive methods, SPAM would almost disappear.

If governments that house such companies refuse too cooperate, ISPs worldwide can contribute to major SPAM reduction by making it a national law to ensure that your computers at home and company are clean.

ISPs can monitor traffic patterns and identify malicious traffic, after that, it should be obliged to notify users that are suspected to be infected and as such, those users must clean their machines or be fined, and if they don't comply, inflate the fine and so on.

When taking such measures, governments allowing shady companies to operate and pay for SPAM groups to run can be blacklisted, by blocking all IP addresses from that country.

This has another powerful side effect: When blocking IP addresses of a whole country, businesses in that country will be severely affected and will demand law enforcement of criminalizing the offenders responsible for SPAM and those funding it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Companies And The Love of Proprietary Formats

I mentioned in an old post how to extract SMS messages from a Nokia .NBU backup file. Today I had to suffer, and sacrifice 2 bunnies and a goat, to get 1 SMS messages that was saved in the Drafts directory in one of the backup files I had of my, piece of crap, Nokia 9500.

The reason I couldn't use the same software in my old post is that it couldn't see the Drafts directory, and since Nokia had decided to create its own format for backup files and NOT provide ANY extraction functionality, I had to look for programs to do that for me.

How long has it been for companies like Nokia in the market so far? Or for any mobile phone maker company for that matter? For the sake of simplicity, let's say 5 years.
In those 5 years, I'm yet to see a company that makes mobile phones, and provide software that properly backups, restores and is able to extract data from those bloody backup files!

I could never understand why such companies decided to lock up OUR data in a weird format. To make it worse, they won't even provide decent functionality in their crippled softwares!

Apart from Nokia's mindless lack of extraction features, Sony has decided that SMS is not important and as such, it will not be backed up for you. Oh, guess what, you won't notice until after you've formatted your mobile and in the process of restoring what you think is a backup.

My sister had lost all her SMS messages because of such idiocy. Luckily, she didn't have messages with critical information. Learning from that lesson, I searched for FREE software that did a proper & decent full backup when the time came to backup my mom's mobile. (My mother would've slaughtered me and grilled me if any of her messages disappeared)

I seriously don't understand the mentality of the monkeys that take decisions on locking the data format. You'd think they might sell other software that provides the lacking features, but they'll be happy to prove you wrong and tell you that you can't get your data unless you restore it. If you are able to.

In the end of this rant, I'd like to say to both Nokia and Sony: Burn in hell you idiots. I'll never buy a phone from you ever again.

P.S.: I used a program called NBUExplorer to extract an SMS from the Drafts directory, which was in another proprietary format (.VMG). I double-clicked that .VMG file and it opened with Nokia's PC Suite and I copid the text to a normal text file. NBUExplorer is free & open source.