Monday, April 02, 2007

Back into the spamming hole

I am very careful about venturing into unknown websites on the internet after being burned twice…well thrice if you count yesterday. The first time I was suckered, I thought I would never get suckered again. This happened several years ago when I didn’t know better than clicking on pop ups. (Snicker all you want but this story needs to be told to save some unsuspecting trigger happy soon to be victim). On that fateful day I was happily browsing Calvin and Hobbes and suddenly a pop-up popped out of no where and told me that I was the 100,000th visitor and I had won some fabulous prize. With some twisted logic I decided that since it was a pop-up on Watterson’s site it couldn’t be horribly bad to check out the prize. Who doesn’t want to be a winner and who doesn’t like to get free stuff? What could possibly go wrong as long as I don’t volunteer my real name or social security number or bank account number? One click on the pop-up transported me to a website which had a simple form which asked for my email id to mail me the coupon or something. So I filled in my non-work id. Next? Then the form started getting pushy and asked me to fill in some sensitive information and I called it quits. I was disappointed that I was not going to get a prize after all but at least I wasn’t going to be an identity theft victim. At least it was over. WRONG! After that day it has been 3 years and I get unbelievable amount of spam on that email even after the spam filters block out whatever they can detect as spam. I can’t tell you how many versions of the Nigerian lottery scam email I have received.

The second time I got royally screwed on the internet was when I was searching for some song lyrics. This was the nastiest incident. I literally walked into a worm hole. I googled for the lyrics and clicked on one website and before I knew it my computer screen was splattered with pop-ups. Yes I had a pop-up blocker on and that didn’t help. Anyhow, I tried to close the pop-ups and that was a bigger mistake than opening that website. After that I had no control over my computer. It was possessed and beyond any human control. It was impossible to get on the internet because the ghost in my machine would take over and transform my computer screen into a bulletin board for online poker and naked chicks. I had to put my computer in rehab for almost a week to get it back to normal. No more unprotected activities for my computer since then.

All was well with me and my computer until yesterday. I wanted to conduct a poll on my website so I googled ‘free poll’. I picked one of the search results and was pretty impressed by the site. This site looked very professionally done and there was not a single ad in sight. So I started with registration. The website asked me to create a login with email id and create a password. Regular procedure so did that. Then it send an email to the id I had provided and asked me to do the confirmation procedure by logging on to my email, clicking on the link they sent and thus confirming the account. Did that. Then they asked me to set up the poll. Smooth sailing so far. Then enter the website where this poll will be published. Done. Then a link was generated and I needed to paste it on my website. There was also a warning that if I changed this link then my account will be deleted. So I paste this link in my post on my website and look at the preview. The m**f**ing link was for an online poker website! I realized I had just volunteered another email id to be on some list for endless spam!
Please do not register on http://www.easy-poll.com/ . You will end up on some spam list.

I was also left wondering if there were ways to test the authenticity of a website before engaging with the registration procedure. I know how to figure out if a website I already use like say a bank website or paypal is not authentic. I want to know how I can determine whether a website that I have never encountered before is reliable. If you have any tips on this issue then please share them with me.

16 comments:

Paladin said...

Go for websites which have cleaner, professional look and look somewhere on their site if its adware/spamware free.

check out http://www.polldaddy.com

cheti said...

i usually do a "pre register" with sites that i still dont trust with a special email ID that i created for this purpose. Not created, started using for it. That email account is probably my best spam filter tool !

cheti said...

btw, ALL websites sell you email ID ! there is no exception.

Hyde said...

I am a sucke for Frasier. So I somehow got a site that promised me a set of Frasier DVDs if I filled out a survey. I should have realised what I was getting into...

The good news for me is, most of the mails are identified as spam.

Sancho Panza said...

I think these are the closest that comes to what u r looking for:
http://reviews.cnet.com/4321-3667_7-6561525.html

Cnet.com is a well regarded website. Check it on wikipedia. So you dont have to be too cautious about their website. Hope this helps.

Atrakasya said...

Use firefox.

use their add-ons to block scripts on pages.

use their pop-up blockers.

peace be unto you, O troubled soul

- atrakasya

DJ said...

i have been through quite some times where the only option was to format the computer...
but then i went on the linux way; and things seemed to work out properly...
at least pop-ups and crap like that disappeared from my world...

another brick in the wall said...

exctly y u need mozilla firefox and the McAfee SiteAdvisor as ur add-on.. it'll show u if the site has pop-ups or worms.. etc.. its been quite effective so far for me.. dekh le

Fleiger said...

I normally rely on this:

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2006/06/27/a-z-of-professional-blogging/

to give me the links to any blogging tools I need. :D

Dunno how to check the site though. :(

Rahul said...

Use Yahoo's disposable IDs for this. I use it for almost anything that I enter on the web.

Ashu M said...

Ugh - that sucks.

And strong swear words - but well justified :)

Note to self (and anyone reading) - before registering on what appears to be an innoccuous website, first try to find out more about the site itself viw a few extra google queries :)
Hopefully your blog entry will show up when someone searches for eas-poll.com next!

Crystal blur said...

Thanks everybody for the tips. Will reinforce my PC's armor ASAP. I feel like I am the PC in the mac and PC ad. :)

gm said...

Crystal, if ur looking to add a free poll and other stuff, u can try Bravenet. I have used their services and have faced no such problems.

Amalesh said...

Create a fake hotmail account and use for such things. Hotmail allows you to classify everything as junk if it does not come from an address in your address book. This way, you can still receive all the spam as spam, but only the desired mail can be directed to your Inbox, just identify the genuine mail you need, and add the sender to your address book.

Anonymous said...

Hey Crys u can use McAfee site advisor. It is free to download and would give a tick or a cross mark with the Google search results. It also has different colors for different websites. Try it, it has certainly helped me.

-Bharath

justrohin said...

Id suggest get one gmail account and use it specifically for all such stuff... keep on applying filters as and when mails keep pouring in. I have around 2000 mails in that account now and all grouped up. So no hassles.