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Friday, May 16, 2008

Myspace Suicide, Backscattering

I wrote about the Megan Meier Myspace suicide a few months ago when it hit the media and I was interviewed about it. Back then, when no copies of the messages Megan received were released, I had to go on what I was told and read in news accounts, which was that a "boy" her age communicated with her via Myspace, then turned around and began calling her fat and other things. What it came down to was that although what had been written to her was mean, it was not cyberstalking, which is a crime in the state of Missouri, where she lived at the time. It could have been considered cyberbullying, but there were no laws in place then to cover that. I felt awful for her parents and angry at the woman who forged the profile of the "boy" to egg Megan on, causing her to commit suicide. I always knew there was more to the story and yesterday's indictment of this woman (in her 40s, no less - an adult? I think not, pfft) proved my gut feeling was right: Woman indicted in Missouri MySpace suicide case.

Turns out the woman, who posed as this boy, befriended Megan, then began getting nasty to her and the last message Megan allegedly received told her the world would be better off without her. She killed herself after that.

I hope this woman gets the book thrown at her. An IP address will trace back to the originating ISP and computer/account used to open this "boy's" account and where the posts were made from. So she can deny all she wants, but when the IP address(es) trace back to her home or account, she's done. And she can try the "oh, I wasn't on the computer on the time" blame game, but you know what? If it's your account, you're responsible for who uses it. So YOU should be the one to pay.

Nuf said before I blow my top.

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A few weeks ago, I posted that a spammer was forging my netcrimes email address in spam, as I was getting literally thousands of undeliverable error messages in my Inbox. Turns out this is happening to a lot of people lately. And my official WHOA email address has been hit as well. A friend sent me the following article, 100 E-mail Bouncebacks? You've Been Backscattered, although mine have been in the thousands, not the hundreds.

This shows how easy it is for spammers to change the FROM line in their email programs to your email address, send out their spam, then let you get the brunt of any undeliverable messages. Thank god for my spam filtering software. But what a pain in the butt this is.

So if you start getting those error messages, no, your email account was NOT hacked into, no one hijacked it, it's just the spammers being clever in using your email address as their return address in their spam messages. The best advice I can give is to get a good anti-spam filtering program such as Vanquish, SpamArrest or Mailwasher. I reviewed all three of these for some computer magazines and liked them all. I stuck with Mailwasher - it's my personal fave.

Gmail also has a good anti-spam system. For a free email account, they are the best.

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