We’ve all received crap email, formally known as Spam email. Often they sell Viagra or offer ridiculous rates on mortgages or other common commodities and services. Other times we receive African Spam from one of the 2.6 million kings, queens or princes governing some remote region of the grasslands, asking for help to retrieve their bazillion dollar baby fund locked away by the evil government. Whatever the case may be, your spam email may intrigue you and that’s their purpose. They entice you to click a link and check them out. Caveat emptor and think twice!
The first thing you should know is that these spam emails often have images used to track your email address. If your email program automatically loads the image, it is remotely retrieved from their web server, which then tags your email address as valid, since it knows you looked at it. In that case, you have made yourself a higher priority candidate for more spam. Don’t think that your email address doesn’t get sold many times back and forth between spammers out there!
If you click a link in the spam email, it will likely do a similar tracking function and tag your email address as a sucker for more crap spam emails. There’s a sucker born every sixty seconds and let the buyer beware. You may be a sucker and not even know it. It only takes a few strikes to the head to help you learn not to do that anymore, but by then you may have incurred brain damage and not know better anymore. So, how do the semi-suckers investigate a spam scam and discover how big they can make their private parts, how low a mortgage they might get, or what African lottery will make them instant multimillionaires? It’s simple… use search engines.
We’ve all used search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN. You type in your keywords and start your search. Search engines can do you many times better than simple keywords. Often referred to as Google Hacking, and there are different grades of Google hacks, you can gain far more control over your search engine results by refining your search string. Let’s take a look at some simple examples, then get back to avoiding spam webs sites from tracking you.
If you wanted to do a search for information about an email titled “Help African King Mubutoo” from a spam email you might search for “king mubutoo” and get random results. But, if the email has a web address like “http://uklotto.co.uk/?876sdf76sd7f6dfd8df867=” you know this will reveal you as a sucker if you click it. We could then Google “uklotto.co.uk” and see what comes up, but we want to stay anonymous altogether while getting more accurate results. Essentially, we want to research a website without that web server knowing we looked at them. Here’s what we do…
Go to Google and into the keyword field type “site:uklotto.co.uk” and do your search. For this site, Google returned nothing and we know they can’t be legitimate as a lottery group if Google knows nothing about them. Lets Google for “site:nationallottery.ws” to learn about an African Lottery website.
In the example above, we have done a simple Google search restricted to the domain of the spam email. All results should be within the domain name we searched for. What is important to note is the “Cached” link offered by Google. This is a special link that shows us what Google indexed from their last visit to this website. The implication is that we will be viewing the web content from Google, not from the African Lottery website. That means we have anonymity from the African website, but not from Google… but we trust Google because they are a US organization and they know everything about us anyway. Let’s click the Cached link now.
This page has a Google header explaining what it knows about this website, when it was last cached, and some other web page information. What’s important is that we can review the web page with anonymity and decide if the product or service is real or not. If Google doesn’t know who they are, they are probably not worth your time. If Google has indexed them and you can view their page, it still doesn’t mean they are legitimate, as Google simply collected information about them. The decision to reveal yourself or purchase products and services is up to you, therefore the caveat emptor for all of you.
Google offers MANY more options for using their search engine to discover specific information, limit results and refine them to exactly what you are looking for, and so on. This is called Google Hacking and can be used for both good and bad. It’s called “hacking” and it can be used as a hacking tool, but in this term it is more specific to manipulating search engine results to exactly what you want to find.