Tales of Rampant Idiocy II
In the second part of our series on idiocy is a tale about spam, proxy servers, and a "technologists." Won’t you join me on for this Tale of Rampant Idiocy I like to call…
… I’M NOT HIM
It was over a month ago now, that I got the first report from Spamcop saying that I was a spam enabler (I’d link to the report, but they appear to purge them after 30 days). The report said I was running an open proxy server that was being used to send unsolicited email, and boy, they’d be really happy if I took it down posthaste.
So, I read the report in depth. The open proxy is proxy.walsingham.org , which is a local private school, but I can’t see how that ties in with me. So I read the report more, click on more links and finally, I see the connection.
The "technology specialist" at Walsingham is one Charles Walker. In the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), ole Chuck has my email address listed with his name. It does, however, have his phone number listed there.
So, I ring ole Chuck up, and he has probably his most confusing phone call of the day where I politely inform him that my email is listed under his name in the ARIN records, and there’s an open proxy on his network being used to send spam, and if he could take care of both those problems I’d be happy as a clam. He gives me his email address and says he’ll have his consultants look into it.
That’s when I should have known this wasn’t going to be over for a while, when I found out the technology specialist (or technologist, as he refers to himself in the emails I’ve gotten from him) has contracted out maintenance of the network to another company, but still has name linked up as a contact point.
So, I forward on the Spamcop reports to him. And about a week later, I get another Spamcop report. I forward it on to ole Chuck, with a little note on the top that the problems both still seem to exist. He replies and says it’s being taken care of. About a week later, I get another Spamcop report. And I forward it on. And I get another. And I forward it on. About one every week or so, give or take.
Friday, I get home from dinner to find an email fron a porn site in my inbox, saying that someone at my open proxy server is trying to brute force hack into their members section, and could I take care of this, please? I forward the letter onto ole Chuck, and write ARIN email. Hello, this idiot has my email listed as his in his entry, and obviously has no idea how to change it. Any help? Anyone?
Today I get an email from ole Chuck, nice all caps title of "SPAM AND HACKING." I almost deleted it, but noticed the sender name and read it anyway. Typed in a single running block of text, ole Chuck introduces himself (he seems to have forgotten our phone call. I shall never love again.), says that he’s been having problems with relaying of spam from the school server, his consulting company hasn’t been able to puzzle it out, and can I call them, please?
Sure, why not. I have nothing better to do than to try to solve other people’s network problems.
So, I call the number, and the guy knows who I am after only a little confusion. He tells me he has no idea why I’m emailing ole Chuck with all this, as my email address isn’t in any of their systems, or in the InterNIC, so what’s the idea? My stupid mistake was going to make the call on my cellphone outside, thinking that I’d be talking to people who’d want to solve the problem, not idiots who were thinking I was forwarding Spamcop reports to a random stranger.
I assumed they just didn’t understand what it was the Spamcop reports detailed, and tried to explain it, that I was mistakenly receiving these emails, and it wasn’t through anything I and done, but rather an erroneous email address ole Chuck or now possibly one of them had entered in somewhere. They were having none of it. To them, obviously this was the work of some scam artist, trying to get me to divulge my personal information (to whom? No one had asked me for jack shit.), and finally pulling out their big gun — that if I kept forwarding these reports to ole Chuck, they were going to have to contact Widomaker and let them know that I was doing so.
I was more or less willing to tolerate them being stupid. But because they were willing to push things a little farther, I was willing to go that extra mile and point out to them that they were stupid, and couldn’t figure out how to click on the links in the Spamcop report. I went back inside.
"All right, look. Go to ARIN’s website. Yes, arin.net. Do a search for Charles Walker, and you’ll find his account with my email listed."
Feel free to play along at home. You have to enter in Walker, Charles, but that’s not too hard is it?
"I’m not seeing that. He doesn’t have an account."
"LOOK. Do a search on exactly what I tell you. Search for CEE DOUBLEYOU TWO FIVE ONE DASH AAY ARE EYE ENN. CW251-ARIN . Do you see it?"
"Sir? Do you see it?"
"And you see his name, and his handle, and his phone number, and my email address?"
"And you understand that since this is his account, and his handle, it’s his responsibility to fix it?"
"He doesn’t have a handle."
"IT’S RIGHT THERE ON THE PAGE!"
"Now, since you obviously have my email address, just let me know how this all works out, okay?"
"Uh… we’ll do our best."
I didn’t have the heart to tell him that was exactly what I was worried about.