Mailnesia and the New Wild West of Email

January 22, 2013
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shutterstock_707909Do you know Dan Sharp? How about Cody Davis or Evan Austin or Gilbert Casper?

You don’t because they aren’t real people. They are phantoms of the new age of insane, spam-driven email.

In 2011, a venture called Mailnesia quietly kicked off. Mailnesia provides “anonymous” email addresses. What that means is a user can make use any @mailnesia.com email address they can think up on the spot — say, derekjeter2shortstop@mailnesia.com — and Mailnesia will automatically validate the account “instantly.”

But that’s not all Mailnesia does. Mailnesia provides spammers with an “automatic” registration capability. Here’s how the site describes it:

If [a site's registration] email contains activation/registration links to other sites, they will be automatically visited in the background without any user action. This is most useful for registrations or subscriptions on websites where you must click on an activation link in the message to complete your registration. This will be done without any user intervention, even without you reading the email!

So a spammer can literally write code that installs an @mailnesia.com email address on any site that a computer spider finds requiring registration and Mailnesia automatically facilitates the registration. (Domains from .pl and .ru also provide such “services.”) This is, to put it bluntly, a spammer’s wet dream.

We know about Mailnesia, because over the past weekend we got blindsided by hundreds of @mailnesia.com registrations on Bank Innovation. Fortunately, we were able to resolve the matter, but the episode suggests that email-driven shenanigans are just getting started online. The degree of sophistication on the part of scammers seems to be advancing, as the recent MIT hacking episode suggests. This is not good.

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One Response to Mailnesia and the New Wild West of Email

  1. JJ Hornblass on January 23, 2013 at 3:53 pm

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