More than sixty percent of today's email traffic is spam, according to email filtering firm Brightmail. This year alone, five trillion spam messages will clog Internet users in-boxes, costing society an estimated USD10-billion in lost productivity, filtering software, and other expenses. Spam Kings:The Real Story behind the High-Rolling Hucksters Pushing Porn, Pills, and Penis Enlargements is the first book to expose the shadowy world of the people responsible for the junk email problem. Author and veteran investigative journalist Brian S. McWilliams delivers a compelling account of the cat-and-mouse game played by spam entrepreneurs in search of easy fortunes and those who are trying to stop them. Spam Kings chronicles the evolution of Davis Wolfgang Hawke, a notorious neo-Nazi leader (Jewish-born) who got into junk email in 1999. Using Hawke as a case study, Spam Kings traces the twenty-year-old neophyte's rise in the spam trade, from his apprenticeship with an experienced Viagra-and-diet-pills spammer who uses the nickname Dr. Fatburn to his emergence as a major player in the lucrative penis pill market--a business that would eventually make him a millionaire.
Spam Kings also tells the parallel story of Susan Wilson, an accountant in California who is reluctantly drawn into the spam wars and eventually joins a group of anti-spam vigilantes. Her volunteer sleuth work on behalf of law-enforcement authorities and Internet companies puts her on a collision course with Hawke, Dr. Fatburn, and other spammers, who try to wreak revenge on the antis. You'll also meet other cyber-vigilantes who have taken up the fight against spammers as well as the cast of quirky characters who comprise Hawke's business associates. The book sheds light on the technical sleight-of-hand--forged headers, open relays, harvesting tools, and bulletproof hosting--and other sleazy business practices that spammers use; the work of top anti-spam attorneys; the surprising new partnership developing between spammers and computer hackers; and the rise of a new breed of computer viruses designed to turn the PCs of innocent bystanders into secret spam factories.
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Brian McWilliams has been reporting on business and technology issues for over twenty years. His articles have appeared in online publications such as Wired.com and Salon.com as well as in magazines including PC World, Computerworld, InformationWeek, CFO, Across the Board, and Inc. McWilliams gained international attention in 2002 when he wrote about the contents of Saddam Hussein's email inbox.