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Joe job

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Joe job

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia, by MultiMedia

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A joe job is an incident of spamming designed to tarnish the reputation of an innocent third party. Despite having existed since at least 1996, joe jobs are uncommon compared to other types of spam because they provide no commercial benefit to the joe jobber.

Origin and motivation

The name "joe job" was first used to describe such a scheme directed at Joe Doll, webmaster of Joe's Cyberpost. One user had his joes.com account removed for advertising through spam; in retaliation, he sent another spam, but with the "reply-to" headers forged to make it appear to be from Joe Doll.

Besides prompting angry replies, it also caused joes.com to fall prey to denial-of-service attacks that took the website down temporarily.

Like the original, most email joe jobs are acts of revenge, whether by individuals or by organizations that also use spam for other purposes. Unless the joe-jobber is a business trying to defame a competitor (or a spammer trying to blacken the reputation of an anti-spam group or filtering service) there is no commercial advantage to joe jobbing, making it a comparatively uneconomical form of spam. Joe job attacks in other media are often motivated politically or through personal enmity.


Joe jobs usually look like normal spam, although they might also disguise themselves as other types of scams or even as legitimate (but misdirected) messages.

Joe jobbing can take different forms, but most incidents involve either e-mail or Usenet spam. They are sometimes seen on instant messaging systems as well. In general, joe jobbing is seen only on messaging systems with weak or no sender authentication, or where most users will assume the purported sender to be the actual one.

If the joe-jobber is imitating a normal spam, it will simply advertise the victim's product, business or website. It may also claim that the victim is selling illegal or offensive items such as hard drugs, automatic weapons or child pornography to increase the likelihood that the recipient will take action against the victim's website.

Some joe jobs are politically motivated, where the intended victim is usually a political candidate, party or organization. Such joe jobs generally espouse an inflammatory viewpoint not actually held by the victim, or present a deliberately distorted variation of an actual viewpoint. Large-scale joe jobs were staged on Usenet against the Ralph Nader campaign in 2000 and 2004. The second of these was unusual in employing multiple phases -- the first a conventional political joe job, the second claiming to be a widely spammed and similarly inflammatory statement by the Nader campaign about the first.

When imitating another scam (such as a Nigerian scam or phishing scheme), the e-mail will still feature links to the victim's website or include contact information. In these instances, the joe-jobber is hoping that the recipient will notice the e-mail is fake, but mistakenly think the victim is behind the "scam."

When imitating a legitimate e-mail, the joe job will usually pose as an order confirmation. These "confirmations" may ask for credit card information (in which event the attack differs from phishing only in intent, not methodology), or simply imply that the recipient has already bought something from the store (leading the recipient to fear his credit card has already been charged). Like the "normal spam" jobs, these e-mails will often mention illegal activities to incite the recipient to angry e-mails and legal threats.

Another joe-job variation is an e-mail claiming that the victim offers a "spam friendly" webhost or e-mail server (in the hope of further inciting action against the victim by anti-spam activists).

How it works

Joe jobs often intend to capitalize on general hatred for spam. They usually forge from addresses and email headers so that angry replies are directed to the victim. Some joe job attacks espouse deliberately inflammatory viewpoints, intending to deceive the recipient into believing they were sent by the victim. Joe job victims also risk losing website hosting or network connectivity due to complaints to their Internet Service Providers, and even increased bandwidth costs (or server overload) due to increased website traffic. The victim may also find his or her email blacklisted by spam filters.

Unlike most email spam, the victim does not have to "fall for" or even receive the email in question; the perpetrator is using innocent third parties to fuel what essentially amounts to slander combined with a denial of service attack.

How to prevent a joe job

While the old wisdom was to abandon the joed email address, joed email addresses can be protected from email-based joe jobs by a user using Sender Policy Framework, which makes email forgeries more identifiable.

Additional steps the victim can take to prevent being harmed by a joe job are to post conspicuous disclaimers on his or her website (if applicable), acquire email filters if he or she does not already have them, and to alert his or her Internet Service Provider about the scam.

The average person receiving a joe job email will probably not recognize it for what it is. Most joe job email can simply be deleted without consequence (incidentally, this is the action that causes the least amount of trouble for the intended victim).

Other meanings

In Canada, "joe job" is a slang term for a low-paying, low-status, dead-end job, especially in the service sector. "Joe job" was used with this definition in the movie Wayne's World.

External links

Home | Up | History of spamming | Stopping e-mail abuse | e-Mail spam | e-Mail fraud | Messaging spam | Mobile phone spam | Newsgroup spam | Spit (VoIP spam) | Honeypot | Spamware | Pills porn and poker | Joe job | Spam Prevention Early Warning System

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This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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