The Bankwatch

Tracking the consumer evolution of financial services

CAPTCHA, Spam, and Banks’ responsibilities

 Since I picked up on Markus post the other day, there seems to be a fair bit of interest in this topic.  CAPTCHA are those things that require you to read and re-type some mixed up characters.  This is intended to validate that you are in fact a person trying to comment on a blog, and not a spambot.

Well I went to my old faithful, Wikipedia, and they have about twenty links about how to defeat CAPTCHA.

Defeating CAPTCHAs

Source: CAPTCHA – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hopefully MySpace and others using that convention will source other and better methods of capturing Spam.  Its a safe bet that Spam will always be there, seeking to “market” to the group.

Some thoughts:

It goes without saying that I firmly disapprove of anything resembling traditional marketing in the internet space.  That’s what spam represents – old fashioned interruption marketing, vying for my attention.  Spam even makes my home junk mail look like decent quality semi well targetted stuff.  At least my junk mail has apparently gone through some marketing filter, and generally is aimed at me – whether I want that newest platinum gold super low interest rate loan credit card mortgage deposit account investment advice etc is up to me, and sorting it out just keeps my shredder busy.

But email spam has relegated me to thinking abut which email address I use for which service, and has certainly made gmail the only choice for me due to their superior handling of all that crap.  And now email spam has gone into hyper mode these last three months as the spammers have taken a lesson from the hackers, and learned to use their tools such as bot herds to send out even more spam than ever.

Which brings us to the latest problems which is pollution of blogs, and social networks.  I think we can characterise them together because the tools and open doors are similar, that being the ability to comment.  Comments are fundamental to blogs, and social spaces, and the spam is more than annoying – it will kill those that do not combat it, or eliminate it.  To use the MySpace example, the reason people want to use it, will be over-ridden if the spam is not eliminated.  I refuse to use my UK yahoo email account because it has been taken over by Nigerian 419 spam.  Its a very simple equation – deleting a couple of spams might be ok, but several each day, and all of the same genre is totally unacceptable.  Goodbye Yahoo.

Relevance to Bankwatch:

Banks have two responsibilities here:

  1. do not participate as a spammer – it doesn’t matter that you have thought it through, and targetted your list, and yes your targetting is so sophisticated you get 1.84% conversion rate – its spam – get over it.
  2. as the inevitable happens, and Banks get more into social networking, ensure that elimination of spam is forefront in your plans.  By being out there in creating a social network, you will be highly vulnerable, so make sure your community members are protected.  Talk to the experts, and don’t leave it to chance.


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Written by Colin Henderson

November 29, 2006 at 20:09

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