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Spam The Internet The Almighty Buck

Interview with a Spampire 383

Bunch2 writes "In this article at OReillynet, a 'hacker' explains why he put his superior coding skills to use by writing a spam mailer called Fahrenheit. (Hint: $$$) Turns out his little creation is also being used by criminals to 'phish' bank account information from gullible folks. The article shows how talented but morally challenged techies are becoming stooges of 'spammers, con artists, and other criminals.'"
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Interview with a Spampire

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  • Same old story... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jhouserizer ( 616566 ) * on Thursday October 14, 2004 @10:51AM (#10524149) Homepage

    The article shows how talented but morally challenged techies are becoming stooges of 'spammers, con artists, and other criminals.

    Surely this has been the case for millenia? Only the specifics have changed.

    • Morally challenged? What ever happened to working for money?

      I am a very moral person with a strict code of ethics... that can be purchased for a price when working, spam, porn, light treason, it's all the same. Thankfully I haven't had to sell myself in such a way yet.

      Now with that said... how much do I hear for my eternal soul?
      • by slaad ( 589282 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:26AM (#10524559)
        I am a very moral person with a strict code of ethics... that can be purchased for a price when working

        Ahh, so then you'd kill someone for the right price? Not the best analogy, but I'd say that a "strict code of ethics that can be purchased" is an oxymoron.
        • Re:Same old story... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hopemafia ( 155867 )
          Everybody has their price...a code of ethics just makes your price higher.
          • by Le Marteau ( 206396 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:51PM (#10525888) Journal
            Aw, man, STFU. Everybody does NOT 'have a price'. Believe it or not, there ARE noble men and women. Heroic souls. People who would rather die than live in disgrace. You just aren't aware of them because they tend to keep their yaps shut, while the jackasses get all the press.
            • Re:Same old story... (Score:3, Interesting)

              by hopemafia ( 155867 )
              No need to be rude.

              I hold to my arguement, that everybody has a price. It doesn't preclude the possibility that some people (your noble heros) have a price so high it's virtually impossible to pay it.

              I respect people who won't be bought for what the world is offering, in fact I try to be one of them. But I have to wonder what would happen if "the world" upped it's offer?

              Think about it: if somebody walked up to you on the street, and gave you $1mil and asked you to kill someone where would you draw the
              • Think about it: if somebody walked up to you on the street, and gave you $1mil and asked you to kill someone where would you draw the line?
                Your arch-rival? Your boss? A bum? A random ordinary person? A celebrity? A friend? A loved one? Yourself? What if it was $10mil, or $100mil, or the Presidency of the US?


                First off, sorry I was rude. I was trying to be funny and conversational in an outrageous, stree-wise sort of way, and I ended up just being rude. I should have put a smiley after it, or better, just
            • I have a price (Score:3, Interesting)

              by swb ( 14022 )
              ...for just about everything. Some horrible things, like killing people or hurting loved ones, are so high as to be functionally unreachable (nobody is going to pay me $250 billion tax free to leave my wife, for example).

              Nobile and heroic are just moral deadweights put on the common man to keep him in line.
        • by DaHat ( 247651 )
          Will I kill someone for the right price?

          That depends... is this just a hypothetical question, "or do you want to start talking numbers?"

          Killing someone would be outside of my scope of working.

          I work in the digital television industry, and sometime, within the next year, I expect that I will most likely be adding broadcast flag support to a product or two of ours.

          No matter how much I may disagree with or not like the broadcast flag, part of my job is doing those tasks assigned to me, and should I be told
      • Re:Same old story... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:38AM (#10524722) Journal
        I am a very moral person with a strict code of ethics... that can be purchased for a price when working, spam, porn, light treason, it's all the same. Thankfully I haven't had to sell myself in such a way yet.

        Sometimes, you have to make a decision with no options you like.

        Some time ago, I was asked to build an adult website. I would have usually just refused. But, this was a very hard decision to make. At that time, money was very tight, and the client asking this of me was one of my very best.

        I accepted the project after discussing things with my wife and children. I did a good job with it, and thankfully, things improved shortly afterwards so that I no longer have to do this.

        When the choice includes providing for one's family, I can easily see how "morally challenged" becomes a reality. In some cases, the real challenge is: what's more immoral?
        • I was asked to build an adult website. I would have usually just refused.

          Seriously? Whats the difference between building a porn site and a site for any old company? As long as they're not promoting anything illegal or dangerous who cares what your clients do?

          And why would you talk to your kids about it? How old are they? I could see running it by your wife but your kids. I guess we have vastly different ideas about things.

          • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:36PM (#10525650) Journal
            Seriously? Whats the difference between building a porn site and a site for any old company? As long as they're not promoting anything illegal or dangerous who cares what your clients do?
            I'm a parent. Those aren't just bodies on the screen, those are people. Do some reading about the brutality and degredation of the Porn industry. Very few people earn any respect at all...
            And why would you talk to your kids about it? How old are they? I could see running it by your wife but your kids. I guess we have vastly different ideas about things.
            I'm a consultant; I frequently work at home. Would you want your kids looking over your shoulder when doing work of this kind?
            • by Denyer ( 717613 )
              I'm a parent. Those aren't just bodies on the screen, those are people. Do some reading about the brutality and degredation of the Porn industry. Very few people earn any respect at all.

              Do some reading about the conditions your clothes, food, electrical equipment and other supplies are manufactured under.

              Porn is not a bad thing--exploiting people is. Porn is not inherently exploitative, unless you're proposing a baby-Jesus-cry rationale.

              I'm a consultant; I frequently work at home. Would you want your

          • Whats the difference between building a porn site and a site for any old company? As long as they're not promoting anything illegal or dangerous who cares what your clients do?

            a heavy-duty vibrator can kill ya

        • by Superfreaker ( 581067 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:26PM (#10525486) Homepage Journal
          I was in a similar situation as yourself as far as money and job scarcity. But I had to do something much worse than build a simple Adult web site...

          I had to deploy Microsoft Windows Media DRM for one of the major record labels.

          I still shudder to think of those days. I fondly look back on my days as a Las Vegas Crack Whore in comparison.
          • I had to deploy Microsoft Windows Media DRM for one of the major record labels.

            Think of it this way; your work may piss off enough consumers that they'll stop crap from the major record labels.
        • Sometimes, you have to make a decision with no options you like.

          Why does your website state:

          "As a quick test of your skill, include a quick PHP script that will go to any website upon request, and extract any telephone numbers, US zip codes, and email addresses found."

          Seems kinda like spam-like work to me.
          • Well, I'm not the OP, but the answer seems simple enough. He/she needs someone to write data extraction scripts. Phone numbers, email addresses and zip codes are simple data that have well-defined formatting requirements; any decent coder would be able to hack up a quick script to find and extract that information.

            As far as I can see, it's simply a test to ensure that potential applicants can write scripts to find and extract data, as they would presumably have to do in the job being offered. It could be

        • Re:Same old story... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MMaestro ( 585010 )
          No offense but if you consider building a porn site morally wrong, I'd hate to see what other moral stands you take.

          Comparing building a porn site with a spam designed program is like comparing a petty theft crime with grand theft auto crime.

        • by attam ( 806532 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @01:13PM (#10526171)
          if ever a post begged for a link, this is it! ;)
        • I thought that people like you were only on TV? You had to discuss this with your wife and "*children*"? Why would you want to ever discuss this with your kids?

          I doubt you did, I believe you're full of shit. Building a porn site and spamming are completely different things. You don't *have* to go to a porn site.

      • by Roadkills-R-Us ( 122219 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:11PM (#10525223) Homepage
        "Morally challenged?" That's a load of sewage.

        Depending on the law du jour, he may or may not be a criminal, per se, but he's a scum-sucking pig. A jackass. He's aiding and abetting thieves, extortionists and con artists. He's as guilty as a guy who helps plan an armed robbery and drives the getaway car.

        He's a prime example of why we need to bring back three things to the justice system:

        1) Public flogging
        2) Public stocks
        3) Restitution

        And I speak as one who's been laid off twice in the computer industry and wondered for months how to feed my family. We survived, and I didn't have to compromise, pursue armed robbery, or aid and abet spammers and scammers to do it.
    • by Metteyya ( 790458 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:34AM (#10524651)
      Sorry guys, but I don't see a lot of talent in writing mail-sending software that's just inserting proper e-mail adress and (not always) name in appropiate positions.

      Same for e-mail extracting software. Damn, it's so popular and extremely easy with all these adresses written on public forums, it must take a 101 programming course attendant to make it challenging.
    • Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

      by azav ( 469988 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @03:29PM (#10527656) Homepage Journal
      Some nerve.

      semiquote: "All the jobs are outsourced to India so I have to to this to live."

      I really don't care who I hurt as long as i can pay my rent.

      Nice morals.

      Where is my Metal Bat of Don't Do That Or I Will Beat You Again?
  • by jolyonr ( 560227 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @10:52AM (#10524156) Homepage
    Not sure if it would work, but worth a try.
  • Remember (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardprice AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @10:53AM (#10524177)
    The tool is legal, its what you do with it that counts. Exactly the same as P2P.
    • Re:Remember (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      no actually it is not.

      he designed it for a client with the intention of doing something illegal (depending on location i suppose)

      P2P itself is legal, sharing files is legal, sharing copyrighted files is not. the action of sending spam is illegal, regardless of content.

      • Re:Remember (Score:2, Interesting)

        by 91degrees ( 207121 )
        Is sending spam illegal? I thought it was legal under US law for political and non-commercial reasons, as well as commercial, assuming it complies with CAN-SPAM.
    • Re:Remember (Score:4, Informative)

      by fdiskne1 ( 219834 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:16AM (#10524458)

      The tool is legal, its what you do with it that counts. Exactly the same as P2P.

      Not quite. I believe the CAN-SPAM law specifies that hijacking other's computers in order to send spam is illegal. That's what his program was meant to do. This means the program was illegal to begin with.

    • Re:Remember (Score:5, Insightful)

      by artemis67 ( 93453 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:20AM (#10524503)
      Kittridge says he overlooked one key feature in Fahrenheit: copy protection. That fact, combined with his three-day, money-back guarantee, has resulted in lots of unauthorized copying and lost revenue, he says.

      Seems fitting, though. The group he's dealing with is largely devoid of ethical behavior, it was pretty amusing that he was so trusting of them.
    • Re:Remember (Score:5, Funny)

      by philbert26 ( 705644 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:26AM (#10524558)
      The tool is legal, its what you do with it that counts. Exactly the same as P2P.

      "Why it's the AT5000 Autodialer, my very first patent! Aww, would ya listen to the gibberish they've got you saying, it's sad and alarming. You were designed to alert school childern about snow days and such. Well let's get you home to Frinky. Hope your wheels still work. Bwhay!"
      /Frink

  • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @10:53AM (#10524183) Journal
    Is today the day we're supposed to gripe about the people who write tools? I thought that we're supposed to be backing the people who write programs like p2p clients that people use to do illegal things until Friday.
    • Hang on, let's complain about the real villians in the spam industry then, those annoying people who wrote the e-mail servers and e-mail clients. Without them there would be no spam!
    • It is one thing to just write a tool that could be used for illegal activities. It is quite another to profit from its use in illegal and unethical (not always the same thing) activities. That is where I draw the line.
    • by dema ( 103780 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:40AM (#10524766) Homepage
      Yeah, like email blasting programs designed to hide behind proxies have any real legitimate uses.
    • His code almost certainly has some bugs that can be exploited, or at very minimum some identifying characteristics that can be used to detect and reject it (e.g. a header like X-Mailer: SpammerPro14). If his claim that he's remorseful is anything other than yet another example of Rule 1, then let's see it.

      Of course, the catch to publishing the full code is that spammers can then use it for free, which isn't really a good thing, but at least publishing the bugs would be a good start.

  • Dark Side (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mfh ( 56 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @10:54AM (#10524194) Homepage Journal
    The article shows how talented but morally challenged techies are becoming stooges of 'spammers, con artists, and other criminals.'

    My thoughts are that coders can become morally challenged when you examine what we're up against today. We are up against shady corporations who lack the motivation to really give us our fair due.

    Obviously I don't support the notion of the dark side. I don't have to because I'm employed by a good company who respects me and treats me right. But I wouldn't even support the dark side if I was dead broke. It's a trap that some people fall into, like the numbskull interviewed.

    Coders who lack the necessary financial or social rewards in their lives sometimes choose the dark side of the force.

    Coders are often the last to be told the way a system needs to be, perhaps a week before the system is due, and yet they should be the first to know. Coders are often looked at with disdain from management because of FUD. I'm really glad the company I work for respects me, but good companies are not the standard today; my company is a lone gem in an disheartening desert of coal. Sure there are other gems out there, but who knows whether a company is a gem unless you have worked there for a little while?

    Luck really is the only thing that determines whether programmers/designers get to work for a gem. Bad companies are good at snowing you during HR selection processes. For example, I went on a job interview to a well known video game company on the west coast of Canada. They told me the job was for 55-60k for level design. I was elated. My wife was elated. We hoped that I could get the job. But we also discussed that I should be watching out for bad practices in the company before we uprooted and moved to the other side of Canada. When I was flown out to meet with this company, they immediately asked me if I would take 40k instead of their original bait. I told the HR guy that I was interviewing his company too, because I was trying to feel out if their company was a fit for me or not, and that his company had lost a huge chunk of trust by shaving off a potential 20k from the starting salary they had quoted to me during the two month preselection process. Yes the company can decide what to hire you for, but this really seemed like a bait and switch to me. You know I bet they do that all the time and I bet every single level designer falls for it, until they get laid off after the project they were hired to complete goes gold. It's a cheap trick and likely the start of a very unpleasant relationship so I threw the interview. I didn't get the job, and I didn't want it. Many companies are like that -- sneaky.

    The standard is a company that is in it for profit, and allows the egos of management to dictate system design and project management. If managements were forced to delegate systems design to those who will be responsible for doing the actual work, we would have better systems and far fewer coders would choose the dark side.

    Some of these dark side of the force programmers are fed up with managements and they have lost faith. So all ye who own companies that hire us, please prove them wrong.
    • Re:Dark Side (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:15AM (#10524447)
      What a load of bollox.
      We are up against shady corporations who lack the motivation to really give us our fair due

      Get a grip. No one owes you a living. You are due nothing.

      Coders who lack the necessary financial or social rewards in their lives sometimes choose the dark side of the force.

      You mean social misfits or those who are not able/willing to build up a solid portfolio of work history?

      This attitude a lot of developers have that they are 'elite' or somehow deserving of greater renumeration or social pathos gives me a pain. Its a job, thats it. Its not a vocation, or a mission from God. Some are better than others just as some doctors are better than others. At the end of day its just a job you can either perform well in a professional environment or not. Millions of people work shit jobs for even shittier pay without a fration of the whining the IT community can manange at the drop of a hat. As my uncle often told me 'Hard work was never meant to be easy'. If a bit of effort is too much for you then go win the lottery.

    • Re:Dark Side (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kahei ( 466208 )

      Luck really is the only thing that determines whether programmers/designers get to work for a gem.


      Luck has nothing to do with it -- your own ability to position yourself and to stay aware of opportunities (and risks) determines whether or not you get stuck maintaining MFC code until 2010(*). In other words, it's just like everything else! Surely your own story suggests that.

      (*) This was the worst thing I could imagine offhand. Maintaining MFC code until 2011 or later might be possible but I cannot i
    • Jeez... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Worse than the comment's author are the moderators... Why do you folks want to blame everybody else except yourselves??? Get a grip! No, coders don't go bad because somebody pushed them into it. Some coders are just on the "evil" side because coders are people and some people are just "evil".

      And all your tirade about hiring processes etc. That's just because "coders" let themselves be played. Most IT folks get no education about hiring practices and laws and rarely share information with each other. Exampl
    • Re:Dark Side (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:37AM (#10524712)


      But I wouldn't even support the dark side if I was dead broke. It's a trap that some people fall into, like the numbskull interviewed.

      Coders who lack the necessary financial or social rewards in their lives sometimes choose the dark side of the force.


      It's hard to say what you will or won't do until you're faced with the tough decission. I know I would work for a spammer - because I almost did.

      Like many, I got hit by the dot-boom. I didn't bounce too badly on the initial hit. But eventually savings, unemployment, and consulting gigs ran out. I couldn't get a crap job because I was over-qualified (apparently I lack the ability to undersell myself). I was down to the wire financially. And I have a family.

      A contact of mine offered me a gig. The pay wasn't great - but it looked like some steady work. And at first I was elated that my consulting work was seeing an extension. Until I found out it was with a spammer. And while I hated to do it - I agreed to meet with the client.

      Luckily for me, two days later, I ran in to an old friend who had another offer. A legitimate one for a real company with real pay doing real work. I cancelled the meeting with the spammer and never looked back.

      It's important to stress that I hate spam. I have problems with the morality of spammers. And I definately didn't like what I was about to do. But I was prepared to do it, none the less. Because as wrong as it was, I was prepared to be a spammer if it meant supporting my family.

      Somebody is reading this and has "hypocrit" ready to go in their paste buffer. And while I deserve the criticism, that individual would be missing the point. Spamming is wrong. And just because I was willing to do it in an act of desparation doesn't make it any more right. After all, I could turn to spamming at any given time now or in the past. But unlike most spammers, I both recognize it as wrong and will not do it if given any other choice. Hopefully I'll never be looking at that choice again. I'm not keen to be a spammer.

      But I know that I would.
    • The article shows how talented but morally challenged techies are becoming stooges of 'spammers, con artists, and other criminals.'

      He was prostituting his skills, and he knew he was doing it and he chose to do so. From the article: Kittridge's impetus to write Fahrenheit was seeing spamware selling for thousands of dollars.

      In fact, he's pissed that he didn't get more money from his Johns.
      Kittridge says he overlooked one key feature in Fahrenheit: copy protection. That fact, combined with his three-day,
    • Morality is a luxury. Morality is a luxury. Yes, I repeat that because that's critical. Most people on the planet do not have the luxury of deciding whether or not their job is morally right. Most people work because they HAVE to. This whole "personal fulfillment from work" bullshit exists only in wealthy countries like the US. MOST of the world's population is still in places like Africa and Southeast Asia, where you're lucky to have ANY job that pays $0.25/day. So, take your high and mighty (and ju
    • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @01:58PM (#10526707) Homepage Journal
      Coders who lack the necessary financial or social rewards in their lives sometimes choose the dark side of the force.

      Bank tellers who feel they are being underpaid embezzle from Wells Fargo.

      Athletes who know they'll get huge endorsement deals if they win will take performence-enhancing drugs to win.

      Junior executives who want to advance up the corporate ladder will look the other way when their bosses employ crooked accounting methods.

      IT people are no differen than anyone else. We all face difficulties in the workplace - boredom, underpayment, stress, extensive overtime, ignorant bosses, ignorant subordinates - you name it, most of us have experienced it whether we're techies or not. Moral challenges abound for us all.

      The trend I've seen over the last two or three years is that techies are increasingly thinking of themselves as victims. Perhaps this is because the IT industry is maturing, and the jobs that were once seen as the exclusive domain of Big Brains are now seen as just another part of the Information Economy.

      It's not an easy thing to confront, particularly if your ego is wrapped up in your job. But market forces, technical innovation, and other forces are making IT jobs in the United States less attractive for those individuals who for whatever reason are not in a position to start their own company or work as consultants.

      Those IT folks who are willing to accept that getting ahead in this industry no longer is risk-free will be fine. But the days of wine and roses are over. IT is becoming a commodity. We hammer on the RIAA for failing to alter its business model in the face of technical and social changes, but what are we doing if we keep looking back to the glory days of the late 1990s, rather than preparing for the future?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 14, 2004 @10:54AM (#10524195)
    If your passion revolves around software and the jobs have dried up, and you have to make a living somehow... you're going to do what you have to.

    Sure, selling spamware is unethical. But if it's that or starving to death...

    *shrug*
    • by way2trivial ( 601132 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:01AM (#10524305) Homepage Journal
      so many responses come to mind...

      so, I can pimp out my kid? or else I'll starve?

      so I can become a contract assasin?

      Heroin dealer?

      A lawyer?

    • If your passion revolves around software and the jobs have dried up, and you have to make a living somehow... you're going to do what you have to.Ah, a person of questionable ethics.

      Let's make this real clear for you: You are NOT entitled to work in your chosen field. Most of us do, because we fought hard to, but you are not guaranteed shit. If I had a passion for working with animals, but I couldn't get a job as a vet, do you think it'd be ok for me to go kill kittens and make money off of it? We do have an over population problem, after all.

      Sure, selling spamware is unethical. But if it's that or starving to death...1. There are jobs to be had. Maybe not in your field, but there are jobs to be had.

      2. When was the last time you heard of ANYBODY starving to death in the US?
    • *cough* bull crap *cough*

      Look, I don't give a rats rear axle that the guys a good programmer. Good for him.

      But if he can't make a good living as a coder, he should go out and get a job to pay his rent.

      The argument you are making is like saying, "Hey, I'm really good at repo-ing cars, but since there aren't any jobs doing that, I'm going to go steal cars instead."

      He had plenty of other ways to pay his rent. He crossed the line. He should do time.
    • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:13AM (#10524408) Journal
      Starving to death? Right-o. Perhaps if he's got the intelligence to write nice code, perhaps he may have the intelligence to think of a genuinely useful service/piece of software to sell. It might take more thought than being unethical.

      Or perhaps in the meantime he can work for Ronnie's burger bar, or on a building site, or as a motorcycle courier - there are plenty of jobs around to take while you look for something better.
    • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:34AM (#10524657)
      So, since we are not holding anyone accountable for their actions, you won't mind if I hire myself out to run a hit on this guy, right? I mean I have to making a living somehow.

      Sure, selling spamware is unethical. But if it's that or starving to death...

      On to the serious side, no one needs to starve to death in this country. Between food shelters, welfare, and temporary jobs, it is easy to get enough food to stay alive. Furthermore, I have never been in a situation where I could not find a job. It may be a shitty job that pays crap but you can almost always find a job if you want to.

      The problem with poverty in this country is not unemployment, but underemployment, and the large number of people that have not been able to advance themselves out of the subsistance level of employment. I do think that we need to do something about this, but I don't buy for one second that this kid had no other choice.

      If you RTFA, you will see that long before he started selling spamware, he was under investigation by the feds for DOS attacks and other blackhat crap that had nothing to do with making money - he was just being an asshole. He was intelligent, and could have found a decent job, if he had bothered investing the time to build up some good experience. If he really loved programming/security he could have eventually found a job in it. And if is only concern was money, then there are plenty of other way to do that. It's not like has years and years in college wasted by moving to another sector. He choose to be a scum and make his living by harming others.
    • selling spamware is unethical. But if it's that or starving to death...

      s/spamware/crack to schoolkids/g

      I can see you trying that one on a judge.
  • by way2trivial ( 601132 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @10:57AM (#10524232) Homepage Journal
    such as

    this google search [google.com] and look at the adsense ads..

    then clickem! pay per click right?

    google makes money, spam for profit companies lose money, and, well, why not?

  • by l1nuxpunk ( 738263 ) <linuxpunk@@@linuxpunk...net> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @10:57AM (#10524239) Homepage
    But now, Kittridge finds himself an unwitting accomplice in a recent email scam that attempted to separate customers of US Bancorp from their account information.
    Unwitting Accomplice, eh? Well, I'm pretty sure that when you write a program designed solely for spamming, you're smart enough to realize that a huge part of spamming nowadays is phishing. But he did have a good enough reason,
    "[...]it's one of the only ways a hacker can make money."
    Yeah... okay...
  • Lock him up... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DigitalRaptor ( 815681 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @10:57AM (#10524247) Homepage
    If you read the article, it's clear this kid has crossed the line.

    Let him share a cell with Martha for a while.

    Maybe we can't catch and prosecute the phishers overseas, but we can catch and prosecute the punks helping them out from the U.S.
    • Nah, don't put him in with Martha! You want him to pay for the crime, or to have a nice cushy cell with flowers, lace curtains, and bakery fresh cinnamon rolls?

      Not me, I think he should get pumped in the cinnamon roll by Bubba the burly biker...
    • >Let him share a cell with Martha for a while.

      No, there's something in the Constitution about "cruel and unusual punishment".

      However, that would answer his whining about paying the rent.

      Notice that he wrote a DDoS tool when he was 15? I'd say he was already over the line, and he'd have trouble finding a job regardless of whether anyone was outsourcing.

      Notice also that he's only made a few thousand, since spammers tend to use his software without paying for it? There's a lesson there. You always lose
    • Re:Lock him up... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sheepdot ( 211478 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:21AM (#10524508) Journal
      If you read the article, it's clear this kid has crossed the line.

      Actually, I'm a little surprised you would say such a thing. It's *far* from clear. What line did he cross?

      He wrote DDoS code. That's it. He was raided by the FBI for source code. You cannot tell me in one breath that source code is free speech and then say that the FBI was justified for the raid.

      He wrote spam software. Big deal. I wrote spam software for my employer, only I'm supposedly using it for "legitimate purposes" because my employer is a public institution. Give me a break!

      Maybe we can't catch and prosecute the phishers overseas, but we can catch and prosecute the punks helping them out from the U.S.

      For what, releasing source code? I fear the world you expect me to live in. You cannot say that the people who implement a law punishing this kid for his source code aren't going to simply turn around and likewise punish developers of DVD decoding software. Or worse, creators of tools like nmap, tcpdump, and more.

      Why? Because if there is anything that History 101 should have taught you, it's that it's the nature of the government to gain, and the people to lose. Security over liberty. Protection over rights. I'm sorry, I'd rather live in a world where my biggest fear is a Windows virus than a world where coding in "that hacker OS *nix" is forbidden save for those "authorized" to do so.
      • First, the argument that source code in an of itself is free speech is a steaming pile of crap.

        I'm a coder and contributor to open source software. But I don't think anything you write is in an of itself protected free speech.

        If I create a 100 page document revealing nuclear secrets and instructions for successfully bringing down a US airliner, is that free speech?

        If I create a list of fellow students I intend to kill on Monday, is that free speech?

        If I write (and distribute) a program with the express
  • Superior, huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Penguinoflight ( 517245 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @10:58AM (#10524253) Homepage Journal
    18yo Florida kid sounds a lot like the description of me, before I went to college. Any computer job is hard to fill in FL, and this kid chose the wrong alternative.

    So many job offers require 3 years of experience, that it's no wonder he couldn't find a job. Unfortunatly, he didn't choose going to school to get this experience.

    Obviously, he didn't have a job because his skills didn't stand out, and his grades probably didn't either.
  • Article misleading (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 14, 2004 @10:58AM (#10524259)

    But with computer programming jobs scarce, the eighteen-year-old Florida software whiz has joined the spam trade.

    Aww.. the poor kid can't make any money any other way, so he has to resort to underhanded methods... hang on:

    Kittridge said he created Fahrenheit, which runs on Unix-based computers, in early 2003. At the time, he was working as a system administrator for Evoclix

    So he already had a job.

  • This is bad... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dfiguero ( 324827 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @10:59AM (#10524277)
    I might be going to extremes but he is basically saying:

    "Ok so I can't find a girlfriend so I decided to rape one!"

    If he is a so called "whiz kid" why can't he get a job? I thought brilliant people would actually find original ways to prove they are better when it comes to joining the workforce.

    No, you suck. No, you suck. No, you suck.
    • You've got to remember that when a journalist / CEO / marketroid / your mom tells you that someone is a "computer whiz" that just means that they know more about computers than the speaker. It's a matter of any knowledge being greater that no knowledge.
  • by nathan s ( 719490 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:00AM (#10524294) Homepage

    When you see people in places like Venezuela registering "secure-usbank.com," it sorta makes you wonder whether there should be stricter controls over domain registration. People would probably be less likely to trust a domain if it didn't contain the name of their bank in it.

    Of course, too much control would hurt people who have legitimate reasons for using a name, such as, perhaps, "usbank-sucks.com" or some other sort of personal-opinion type of thing.

    And on the flip side, it sometimes feels like maybe there's already too much control from corporations in particular, who take things like mikerowesoft [zdnet.co.uk] way too seriously.

    Still, there's a nagging thought in the back of my head that spammers in Venezuela should have a slightly more difficult time getting secure-usbank.com. Maybe US Bank should've taken a cue from Microsoft and more vigorously defended the use of their name online.

  • by FriedTurkey ( 761642 ) * on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:00AM (#10524295)
    "Because of outsourcing [of software and system administration jobs], it's one of the only ways a hacker can make money," says Kittridge.

    Really? Sounds like the same false argument shop lifters make when trying to say there isn't work for them. No, it is just easier to steal/write malicious code then get a real job. They can say his code is a work of art, but it is still easier than trying to work at a corporation or starting a legitimate business. This criminal needs to get off his ass and get a real job.
  • Street Cred (Score:5, Interesting)

    by booyah ( 28487 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:00AM (#10524298)
    the sad thing is, this kid is 18...

    in 10 years when the market is better, his code will still be looked down upon because of things like this. at my last two positions i was told part of the reason I was hired was because of my positive google check.

    Personally i havent had any problems paying rent in this economy with an honest job and hard work, it happens in nearly all lines of work where there are tough times. just stick it out, keep yourself honest, and you may be better off in the future, this guy has pretty much sealed his fate to a future of gray market applications
  • by tcopeland ( 32225 ) * <tomNO@SPAMthomasleecopeland.com> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:01AM (#10524306) Homepage
    "Hackers are having a real hard time finding work in the U.S.," says Kittridge in explaining his decision to work for spammers. "Spamming is our last resort to pay rent," he says.
    Yup, I'm sure all those folks out there hanging drywall and cutting lawns feel really sorry for him. It's so sad when a computer programmer can't find a job that lets him express his hacking muse.
  • this is sad.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by buhatkj ( 712163 )
    Yknow if he can write an app to send spams with threading an rotating subjects and all this crap, why couldnt he write a decent CMS, or a groupware system?? see spamming is quick and easy is why. spamming is the dark side.

    as long as there is email as we know it now there will be spam, because its too easy to be anonymous. I think we need to give up email en-masse and move to something more effective and secure. something more akin to how gmail works, but not using email for transmission. like a indi
  • It started with some innocent all-natural fang-lengthening solicitations, but it spiraled into an orgy of Vampagra spews and Transylvanian scams. After a while, I no longer knew if I was dead or undead. And I was way too uptight to play it even a little gay.
  • by Sheepdot ( 211478 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:11AM (#10524384) Journal
    "Because of outsourcing [of software and system administration jobs], it's one of the only ways a hacker can make money," says Kittridge.

    Okay, let's get a few things straight here. No offense, but you are 18. You haven't been in the "job market", and I hope to god you've been doing well in school. I imagine you've gotten great grades.

    That said: have you looked at college? They aren't going to judge you as much there, and you can most likely go. You can also meet some really cool people your age and work with a lot of bright professors.

    Don't get me wrong, I've done my fair share of "black hat" activity, most of which I keep quiet about now, but 15 to 18 is when you're allowed to do exactly that. Now is your chance to really shine and excel in information security classes at a university.

    You can still hang out with some of your old IRC friends. I did till I was about 23. Then you realize you quit actually being interested in the same hacks and you start to think that all the new "kids" don't really know what they are doing. Then you start overusing the term "script kiddie".

    Don't get me wrong, a lot of people erroneously call younger (and often brighter) hackers "script kiddies" simply because you might develop and use tools that require no thought. What you don't know is they were all using tutorials and very few of them actually coded their own exploits as well. In essence, the stuff they complain about you doing is stuff they would have done at the same age.

    But that doesn't mean that you're heading in the right direction. Getting caught at age 15 is stupid. What is worse is the fact you are still in "the biz". I would highly suggest moving on with your life and applying outside of just a few places where you lead with, "I'm a hacker" for an interview.

    The only reason why people aren't hiring you is because you still revel in your actions.
  • Ahem: (Score:5, Funny)

    by Saint Aardvark ( 159009 ) * on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:11AM (#10524390) Homepage Journal
    "Hackers are having a real hard time finding work in the U.S.," says Kittridge in explaining his decision to work for spammers. "Spamming is our last resort to pay rent," he says.

    Sorry, you got that word wrong. It's not pronounced "HA-kurz", it's pronounced "LY-ing SO-sho-PA-thik THEEVZ". But no worries, it's an easy mistake to make.

  • by Woogiemonger ( 628172 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:22AM (#10524516)

    Subject lines and to avoid sending the "phish" to any addresses containing the words admin, FBI, or abuse.

    I wonder if you had an address like admin-fbi-abuse@somemailservice.com, how much less spam you'd get.

  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:36AM (#10524691) Homepage Journal
    From Web WordNet 2.0 [princeton.edu]:
    The noun "stooge" has 2 senses in WordNet.

    1. flunky, flunkey, stooge, yes-man -- (a person of unquestioning obedience)
    2. butt, goat, laughingstock, stooge -- (a victim of ridicule or pranks)


    This jackass is not a "stooge" - he is an ACCOMPLICE. He does not deserve to "share a cell with Martha (Stuart)" in Club Fed, he deserves to be locked into stocks in a public place and to have rotten food items thrown at him. He deserves to be whipped until he shits himself, with the whole incident preserved on the Web and properly catagorized in all web search engines. To quote Hanover Fist: "Hanging's too good for him. Burning's too good for him. He ought to be torn into little bitty pieces AND BURIED ALIVE!"

    This little shit knew what he was doing was "wrong" in the eyes of society - he simply has no care for such matters. Yes, in that his arguments are no different than a drug dealer, burgler, or hitman.

    In fact, I'd rate a drug dealer over this asshole - a drug dealer is doing "bidness" with people who want his product. I'd sooner legalize drugs than allow this little shit to do what he is doing.
  • Supply & Demand (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rocketboy ( 32971 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:41AM (#10524790)
    IT's a free market and the program isn't illegal, so what's the beef? That this kid has different morals than you or I? Stop whining and get over it: this guy isn't you, doesn't have the same needs, skills, motivations, and it's damned unreasonable for all you hypocritical smug whiners to judge him when he hasn't broken any laws.

    In my book he's demonstrating the strength of the free-market, capitalistic system: there's demand for a legal product and he has the skills to meet that demand. He's an entrepreneur. If the market doesn't agree, his product won't sell and he'll have to try something else. That's the way the system works. Would you prefer that he starve to death demonstrating the 'moral superiority' of whatever belief system those of you who disagree with him subscribe to? How disgusting!

    And don't say that you wouldn't do it. Have you ever been homeless? Walked miles back and forth to a minimum wage job that *just* fed you enough to survive to the next paycheck, because that was literally the only job available? How many of you have ever sat in front of a doctor and listened to her tell you that your spouse/child isn't ever going to get better, ever, but that with expensive treatment that your insurance isn't about to pay for, they can learn to 'manage the pain'? You'd be amazed what you'll do for money, when the need is more important that whether you can afford to buy the newest game system. You haven't walked in his shoes and you ought to consider that when you're passing judgement on him.

    I've always tried to do what I needed to do to meet my family's needs. Sometimes we got by and sometimes we didn't. I haven't been desperate enough to do anything illegal and I hope that I've got more faith and courage than to go that route -- but I've been close before and there's no guarantee that I won't get closer in the future. I've stared into that face and I didn't like what I saw but I'm damned well not going to condemn someone else who may or may not have made the same choices I have, when all I know about him is a few hundred words from a reporter who hasn't the vaguest comprehension of the subject of his article and the self-rightous bigotry of the over-educated Slashdot elite.

    • Read the article. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by khasim ( 1285 )
      IT's a free market and the program isn't illegal, so what's the beef? That this kid has different morals than you or I?

      The "beef" is that he's using his skills to add to the ills of the world.

      Stop whining and get over it: this guy isn't you, doesn't have the same needs, skills, motivations, and it's damned unreasonable for all you hypocritical smug whiners to judge him when he hasn't broken any laws.

      Ah, the old "if it isn't specifically illegal then it is moral/ethical. Sorry, that doesn't work.

      In m
  • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:56AM (#10525017) Homepage
    But, I don't think it's the same kind as this guy [hillscapital.com].
    Nifty little script. I keep it running 24/7, bombarding my favorite spammers. I was doing the same thing myself with a frameset, but this one is soooo much prettier!
  • by abb3w ( 696381 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:10PM (#10525209) Journal
    So, if you outsource your code jobs, you reduce the chance of coders to find jobs in the country.... which results in some statistical fraction turning to spam support for a livelihood... which increases your costs. Quantification is left as an exercise for the Economics and Computer Anthropology students jointly.

    Yeah, it's essentially a protection racket, but it still ought to be considered in the outsourcing cost equations. After all, outsourcing decisions are all about facing the cold, hard costs of doing business, and the cost (and marginal cost) of Spam is one of them.

  • by JasonBee ( 622390 ) * on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:11PM (#10525233) Homepage

    I'm in networking and administration. I got here via an athletic career (Track and field) and several jobs that had nothing to do with what I do now. I've done everything from shoe store management to construction to general labour.

    Ultimately the "job" thing is whatever puts food on the table or helps yoru local community function (coo-op farming comes to mind).

    My father started his career doing systems programming for the early generation IBM mainframes that ran the (Canadian) Bank of Montreal/Montreal Trust systems in the mid 1960's. He had a staff of 18 at one point, but barely made enough money to get a mortgage. He offered to quit unless he could get a raise matching the "private" sector offerings. Even with THAT salary he couldn't afford a mortgage, nor even qualify for one. Which is funny since he was essentially a "mortgage specialist" overseeing the punchcard systems and doing actuarial forensics when things got "lost".

    To make this story short (hard to do), he quit afetr accepting a job aty a new bank. The new bank cancelled the job several days before he started and having just quit his prvious job he marched in to a Canada manpower office to see what was available there and then. By later that day he was tarring house foundations for almost as much as he made in his previous job. He was promoted very soon for offering to work for less with the expectation that he could learn from the master trades people. They gave him a raise and he began a 30+ year in the building trades...a job that has since taken him from the Arctic building early-warning radar installations to Brunei building housing complexes for big oil conttractors.

    The lesson I'm projecting is the point where he was wearing a three piece suit applying for a construction labour job...remember that part. The 1930's weren't even that kind to people so be thankful that at the very least you could get a job at McDonald's to pay the rent if you had to.

    Life is one big transition, and if this kid is good enough he'll stay in school, or work on something else and save for the day when he lucks into a good coding job or meets a connection that can find him an employer looking for his secific talents. Rueing the fact that he can only work for people who prey on others is a very weak argument. Someone else is spending their days and money trying to undo all that work he's enabled them to do

    The only advice I can offer is good luck and happy adventures. My dad doesn't regret his career change one iota by the way.

  • by The I Shing ( 700142 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:39PM (#10525688) Journal
    I'm really good at smashing windows and puncturing tires with icepicks, and that's all I want to do with my time, but no-one will hire me to do that legitimately, so I have to set up shop doing it for for shady, anonymous people. I can't help it, it's the economy. Once things pick up, I hope to reform myself and dedicate my life to morally correct window-smashing and tire-puncturing. So I can certainly understand where the young hacker is coming from.
  • by w1z7ard ( 227376 ) <carmelo.piccioneNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:40PM (#10525714) Homepage

    Granted, any half-decent programmer can write code that mass emails a crap load of people. However, this guy also used proxies to cover his tracks as well statistical graphs and print outs of the program's success. His program is also multithreaded, which by no means is a simple programming concept. He definitely has a pretty good grasp of how write decent code. Additionally, I applaude the fact that he coded it in Unix - good tastes concerning the development platform!

    However, its really one of the worst things he could have written. Its a shame he doesn't start / contribute to an opensource project. Moral of the story? He's a waste of talent. Also, why is he looking for a "hacker job" when he could just be a software engineer for a whole variety of companies?

  • by CodeBuster ( 516420 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:46PM (#10525795)
    Techie: Master Yoda, is the dark side of code stronger?

    Master Yoda: Quicker, easier, more seductive, but once you start down the dark path of malware forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will as it did Obi Wan's apprentice.

    Techie: How will I know the difference?

    Master Yoda: You will know when you are calm, at rest, passive. A programmer uses the code for knowledge and defense, never for attack.

We can found no scientific discipline, nor a healthy profession on the technical mistakes of the Department of Defense and IBM. -- Edsger Dijkstra

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