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Vol. 1 Number 4

It’s vigilante phun day! How get Usenet spammers kicked off their ISPs.

How do you like it when your sober news groups get hit with 900 number sex ads and Make Money Fast pyramid schemes? If no one ever made those guys pay for their effrontery, soon Usenet would be inundated with crud.

It’s really tempting, isn’t it, to use our hacking knowledge to blow these guys to kingdom come. But many times that’s like using an atomic bomb to kill an ant. Why risk going to jail when there are legal ways to keep these vermin of the Internet on the run?

This issue of Happy hacker will show you some ways to fight Usenet spam.

Spammers rely on forged email and Usenet posts. As we learned in the second Guide to (mostly) Harmless Hacking, it is easy to fake email. Well, it’s also easy to fake Usenet posts.

Newbie Note #1: Usenet is a part of the Internet consisting of the system of on-line discussion groups called "news groups." Examples of news groups are rec.humor, comp.misc, news.announce.newusers, sci.space.policy, and alt.sex. There are well over 10,000 news groups. Usenet started out in 1980 as a Unix network linking people who wanted -- you guessed it -- to talk about Unix. Then some of the people wanted to talk about stuff like physics, space flight, barroom humor, and sex. The rest is history.

Here’s a quick summary of how to forge Usenet posts. Once again, we use the technique of telnetting to a specific port. The Usenet port usually is open only to those with accounts on that system. So you will need to telnet from your ISP shell account back into your own ISP as follows:

 telnet news.myISP.com nntp

where you substitute the part of your email address that follows the @ for “myISP.com.” You also have the choice of using “119” instead of “nntp.”

With my ISP I get this result:

 Trying ...
 Connected to sloth.swcp.com.
 Escape character is '^]'.
 200 sloth.swcp.com InterNetNews NNRP server INN 1.4unoff4 05-   Mar-96 ready (posting)

Now when we are suddenly in a program that we don’t know too well, we ask for:


And we get:

 100 Legal commands
    authinfo user Name|pass Password|generic <prog> <args>
    article [MessageID|Number]
    body [MessageID|Number]
    group newsgroup
   head [MessageID|Number]
  list [active|newsgroups|distributions|schema]
  listgroup newsgroup
  mode reader
  newgroups yymmdd hhmmss ["GMT"] [<distributions>]
   newnews newsgroups yymmdd hhmmss ["GMT"]       [<distributions>]
    stat [MessageID|Number]
    xgtitle [group_pattern]
    xhdr header [range|MessageID]
    xover [range]
    xpat header range|MessageID pat [morepat...]
    xpath MessageID
 Report problems to <usenet@swcp.com>

Use your imagination with these commands. Also, if you want to forge posts from an ISP other than your own, keep in mind that some Internet host computers have an nntp port that requires either no password or an easily guessed password such as “post.” But-- it can be quite an effort to find an undefended nntp port. So, because you usually have to do this on your own ISP, this is much harder than email forging.

More how to fight spam --->>

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