Spammer "caught" by slashdot users

Ever wanted to beat up a spammer? Here’s your chance:D
I read the Washington Post‘s article called Invasion of the Computer snatchers about a week ago, which is about 0x80, a young botnet-spammer who sends 180Solutions commercials to infected "customers". The spammer wanted to stay anonymous, naturally, since there is alot of people on the net here who wants him dead. The Washington Post obviously thought they’d done their part of keeping their controversial source unkown.

The article was featured on slashdot. Not long after slashdot users had found out quite alot more about the spammer than the Washington Post and 0x80 would’ve wanted. You see, most images have what we call metadata. That is autogenerated, detailed information about when the picture was taken, and where. Here’s the metadata from a picture of 0x80’s laptop (now removed from the Post’s website):

SLUG: mag/hacker
DATE: 12/19/2005
id#: LOCATION: Roland, OK
PICTURED: Canon Canon EOS 20D
Adobe Photoshop CS2 Macintosh 2006:02:16 15:44:49 Sarah L. Voisin

Roland, OK has about 3000 male inhabitants. But the information doesn’t end here. The very same slashdotter who posted the info above noted that the Post’s article was seething with information which under keen eyes narrows the search down considerably:

– 21 years Old
– Smokes cigarettes. Article mentions Marlboros but that’s not what fills his ashtray (cigarettes with a white butt)
– blond hair (at least blond looking hairs on his arms)
– hair that covers his eyebrows
– lives with his parents in a "brick rambler"
– Mother is "really Christian"
– has a dog ("A small dog with matted fur")
– "accent a slurry of heavy Southern drawl and Midwestern nasality"
– is skinny ( "wiry frame", "tall and lanky", sez the article )
– high school dropout
– was an AOL customer 7 years ago

slashdot source: cid=14749523 and cid=14750403

That’s a good example of the power yielded by the slashdot effect. Here’s a PHP metadata toolkit or an EXIF parser for python if you want to do some experimenting yourself. Most cameras leave EXIF info in their images.

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