Like most ‘net users I get my fair share of spam. Most of it gets binned automatically by my email system, but of course some still gets through so I am used to hitting the delete button on random email from .ru domains offering me the opportunity to “impress my girl tonight”.
Most such phishing email relies on the recipient being dumb enough, naive enough, or (possibly) drunk enough to actually click through the link to the malicious website. I was therefore more than a little astonished at an email I received today from the open rights group. That email is given below in its entirety (I have obfuscated my email address for obvious reasons).
From: Department of Dirty
Subject: Cleaning up the Internet
Date: Wed, 23 Jul 2014 07:14:18 -0400 (EDT)
Ever thought the internet was just too big? Want to help clean up online filth?
*Welcome to the Department of Dirty*
Watch the Department tackling its work here: www.departmentofdirty.co.uk and share our success, as we stop one man try to get one over us with his ‘spotted dick recipe’:
Department of Dirty Video: http://www.departmentofdirty.co.uk/
The Department of Dirty is working with internet and mobile companies to stop the dirty internet. We are committed to protecting children and adults from online filth such as:
*Talk to Frank: This government website tries to educate young people about drugs. We all know what ‘education’ means, don’t we? Blocked by Three.
*Girl Guides Essex:
They say, ‘guiding is about acquiring skills for life’. We say, why would young girls need skills? Blocked by BT.
*South London Refugee Association:
This charity aims to relieve poverty and distress. Not on our watch they don’t. Blocked by BT, EE, Sky and VirginMedia
This is just the tip of the iceberg.
We need you to help us take a stand against blogs, charities and education websites, all of which are being blocked . It’s time to stop this sick filth. Together, we can clean up the internet.
Your Department of Dirty representative
 You can find out what we’re blocking at this convenient website: https://www.blocked.org.uk/
[DISCLAIMER] This email has come from the Open Rights Group. This email was delivered to: firstname.lastname@example.org If you wish to opt out of future emails, you can do so here.
Now, I’m an ORG supporter (i.e. I am a paying member) and I am sure that someone, somewhere in ORG thought that this email campaign was a great idea. After all, it follows up the ORG’s earlier research on the fairly obvious stupidities arising from the implementation of Dave’s anti-porn campaign, it looks “ironic”, and it uses a snappy domain name which has shades of Monty Python about it. But I’m sorry, in my view this most certainly is not a good idea and I’m sure that ORG will come to regret it.
One of the most fundamental pieces of advice any and every ‘net user is beaten up with is “do not click on links in unsolicited emails”. In particular, the advice normally goes on – “if that email is from an unknown source, or has in any way a supicious from address you should immediately bin it”.
This email comes from an unknown address with a wonderfully prurient domain name. Even if it is successful and gets to the intended email inbox , it then relies on the recipient breaking a fundamental security rule. It does this by encouraging him (this looks to be male targeted) to click on a link which the naive might believe leads to a porn video.
How exactly is that going to help?
( Note. It got to my email inbox because the email system at e-activist.com which sent it is allowed by my filters.)