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IdentityTheftSecrets interviewed the CEO of SpamBully, Mr. Paul Jendrasiak.
SpamBully is a spam filter that’s been rated “Best Buy” by WIRED Magazine, rated “5 cows” by Tucows (For whatever that’s worth… apparently 5 cows worth), has appeared in the book Fighting Spam for Dummies, USA Today, Wall Street Journal online, and other noted media outlets.
That’s all well and good, but we wanted to go to the source of the software to find out what SpamBully was really all about. In this interview, you’ll be able to hear what IdentityTheftSecrets found out about SpamBully.
Download the MP3 with SpamBully’s CEO Mr. Paul Jendrasiak
According to Jupiter Research, the average American will get more than 3,600 spam email messages in 2007.
One of the nice things about SpamBully is that they have taken into account that people have different systems for which they may want a Spam protection product. So, Spambully works with Outlook, Outlook Express and the new Windows Mail in Vista. It’s based on a Bayesian Spam Filter, which Intelligently knows which emails you’ve received are good and which are spam. It does this through using artificial intelligence and comparison against server blacklists. Basically, this makes sure that good emails make it to your Inbox
Here is the interview transcription.
IdentityTheftSecrets: Welcome to another exciting call with IdentityTheftSecrets.com. This is Jonathan Kraft and I am here today with, I know I am going to mess up this name but, Paul Jendrasiak. Did I say that right?
Spambully (Paul Jendrasiak): Yeah, perfect Jonathan.
IdentityTheftSecrets: Alright, Paul Jendrasiak from Spam bully and I thought we could take a few minutes today and ask a few questions, not only about Spam bully but just about spam in general. Obviously, people are concerned about identity theft, part of the thing that is going on a lot in terms the way people’s information is being stolen is through phishing, spam, and that sort of thing. So, I wanted to talk with you about that today, but can you just get started; would you mind just sharing a little bit about your background?
Spambully (Paul Jendrasiak): Sure, absolutely. First of all, good to be with you, Jonathan. My background, right now we do spam bully which is a spam email filter and we have been doing spam bully for about five years. It has been really successful for us and prior to that, my history goes back to internet marketing and I have a strong background in that back to about 1995, 1996. And past that time period, I used to be into magazines. I used to interview rock stars; ran a music magazine so, a little bit different than the software industry and Internet promotion so I seem to hop around into different things, but really do enjoy doing the software these days and with spam bully, it is obviously, it is a very needed piece of software, spam really seems like it is on the increase.
IdentityTheftSecrets: Yeah, definitely would agree with that. What got you into actually creating software to help people with spam?
Spambully (Paul Jendrasiak): Well, actually my partner and myself, his name is Jeff; we were involved, both together, in Internet promotion. We used to do internal software for our businesses and we decided wouldn’t it be great to do consumer base software for the home user and the business user. And at that point spam was a pretty big deal and he is the technical person, I am more of the business/advertising person. He had seen something on what is called Bayesian filtering which is an intelligent kind of way filtering spam where it makes decisions on what is good email and bad email, kind of an artificial intelligence format, and my partner Jeff wanted to get involved in that. And I thought well, that is a fantastic idea because spam is such a huge problem out there so, we just started rolling with that. It really took off within probably about three months we were in Wired magazine. We got rated best buy there, and we have been picked up by a number of other publications throughout the world. Write-ups, reviews and pretty much it snowballed from there so; it has been a pretty good ride. We are just releasing our fourth version of spam bully and in addition to the spam; we also integrate a great anti-phishing technology because that’s kind of, you know, almost like the cousin of spam I guess you can say.
Spambully (Paul Jendrasiak): We are kind of working on both sides of that for the consumer.
IdentityTheftSecrets: We actually just did a big interview on Identity Theft Secrets about phishing. We interviewed the gentleman who has actually been an identity thief for over twelve years. He says that he only sees the problem of phishing getting worse. I don’t know what your take is on this but, I mean, how do you see the problem of phishing being slowed or eventually stopped?
Spambully (Paul Jendrasiak): Well, as far as getting worse I say yeah that is a fair statement. You’ve got a lot of that stuff out there that is making its way into folks’ mail boxes, and unfortunately, not everybody who uses the Internet is incredibly savvy so a lot of the things look like they are legitimate, they look like they are from PayPal, they look like they are from eBay, or from their banks; so, it is easy to get tricked into giving out your well-guarded details, your financial information. Obviously, the way to combat that is making sure that people know what to look for – tell-tale signs, making sure that they exam the emails, you know, with spam bully we examine the links in there and we alert people that this may not be a legitimate email and you may want to examine it twice before you click the link and enter in you password information. One of the reasons why that stuff is so hard to combat is these folks are offshore. They may be in Eastern Europe, they may be in Asia. It used to be that if you were going to be a victim of some sort of theft it was, you know, somebody that is right near to you, local to you. Now you are dealing with people that are thousands and thousands of miles away and countries that you may not be able to pronounce so…
Spambully (Paul Jendrasiak): It is a little more difficult to go after some of that stuff. So, it is very cat and mouse, you know, we see authorities do a pretty decent job trying to catch up with that but these folks are pretty savvy. I mean, you said you talked with somebody who’s been doing it for twelve years and they obviously know the ins and outs to that. Certainly it is a terrible thing to pursue that as a business to steal people’s identity for financial gain, but the fact that this guy has been at it for twelve years shows you that, you know, it is very much an intense cat and mouse game. And, you know, people; we have seen in the US who, you know, have gotten involved in that as far as trying to steal identities, those folks usually get caught fairly easy, fairly traceable, but it seems like your more savvy criminal is offshore, in Asia or somewhere over in Eastern Europe. I think the name of the game is to have consumer education and a lot of the time, you know, folks who are getting their identity stolen is your mother or your grandmother who have been online for maybe two years. They use it for emails, maybe they have a PayPal account or an eBay account, but they are easily tricked into giving out their information. It used to be, you know, you were afraid of breaking into your house well, now they break into your house through your computer which, you know, is really a whole new ball game. I mean, with any of this stuff it is always a double edge sword, but hopefully, you know, as law enforcement becomes more savvy, you are going to see some of these folks, you know, discouraged from trying to do these kind of activities.
IdentityTheftSecrets: Right. Well, kind of on that note, I mean, the government passed the spam law into effect on January 1, 2004, and obviously, our boxes are more filled with junk mail than they ever have been. Can you explain to me why that may have happened? I mean, obviously the law didn’t work, but can you talk to me about why?
Spambully (Paul Jendrasiak): Well, that kind of gets back to what we were talking about with phishing, because you’ve got these people who are operating offshore and when you are dealing with spam, sure is a headache to you, it is a headache to me, but when you look at it in the grand scheme of things as far as what authorities are going to go after, it is not going to be a high priority. I mean, are you going to go after somebody who is a terrorist or somebody who is spamming? Well, we both know the answer to that.
Now, the fact is that you’ve got some folks in the United States who have been prosecuted under the Can-Spam Act so, in that respect, sure is working when you can pretty much go down the street and nab the guy, you know, who is doing it; it’s a different ball game but when somebody is over in Malaysia and they’ve got a huge spam operation, typically that is going to be a lot harder to go after, you know, because that’s, you know, way out there versus some guy who may be sitting in his house in Tennessee with millions of spam email addresses. So, I mean, the law works but it doesn’t work. I guess maybe that is kind of the way of put it, you know, folks in the United States: sure some of them have been prosecuted but a lot of these folks who may be sitting in the former Soviet Union or something, they are a little bit harder to catch on something like that. The bottom line is that they don’t care that there is a United States law. Can-Spam, almost to an extent, it’s almost a guideline; it says, you know, if you want to send emails here is what you’ve got to do. There is really not a lot of teeth to it, but you know, folks who are kind of in that I guess you would want to say that black zone of spamming, you know, they don’t care one way or another and they are again just like with the phishing, you know, it is a cat and mouse game.
IdentityTheftSecrets: What do you think is the big solution to that is? I mean, if you’ve got all these people who are overseas and they are able to send spam, they are not affected by the laws obviously, of the United States at all. And in fact to their government they might even be happy that they are taking money out of the United States, you know, from whatever spam scheme that they are running with, whether it is phishing or whether it is whatever it is that they are spamming people about; their government is probably will be okay with them spamming especially if that money ends up in their country. So, what do you think, I mean not all countries but a lot of countries have that kind of mentality of well if you are stealing money from them and putting it in our economy that is alright. So, what do you think is the big solution to this issue?
Spambully (Paul Jendrasiak): Well, that is a question that has been asked time and time again and there have been a number of solutions put forward. A lot of them unfortunately, sometimes you end up throwing the baby with the bath water. There have been, the name escapes me but, it is some sort of verified sender type situation, but a lot of times where that was being utilized, the spammers were essentially taking advantage of that someway, or you would end up loosing legitimate emails. So, it is kind of hard to say what the solution, I mean, there has been a number of solutions put forward in the last five years and spam is still here. I mean, like you said these countries, you know, they are small countries or whatever; they are not going to care, you know, what the United States’ stance is on that. They are just happy about generating money for, you know, folks inside their country.
You know, as far as the backbone of the internet, if there were some way that they could maintain a way to better police emails that are going through the system so they don’t even hit your ISP. But sometimes, you know, can be a little bit tricky because with spambully, for example, we’re customized to you, on your desktop. So, you’ve got some spam filtering set up where it is a community spam filter but there may be some things that you consider spam but I don’t consider spam. I may legitimately want those things so that gets into a whole other arena of this email is good to you, this email is bad to me and vice-versa.
So how do you decide some of that stuff? I mean, some of it is obviously pretty clear, pretty obvious, you know, that this good, this is bad, but still, you know, there is a need to make that correct determination. Some of that, you know, really needs to go to the backbone of the internet as far as, you know, what is going on out there in ways to better block these people because, you know, it used to be that they would go through regular ISP’s to send their spasm but now they pretty much have their own set up. They are pretty savvy and, you know, really when it gets down to it, but at the end of the day, I look a lot of these things and I say, really who is buying this stuff?
Spambully (Paul Jendrasiak): I have no idea I mean back, you know, spam kind of started to rear its ugly head; say around mid nineties, ninety five, ninety six. A lot of it was adulatory and sure people were probably signing up for that stuff. But now, you know I just don’t see it. I mean, I’ve yet to run into anybody who says I got a mortgage through a spam email or I bought this penny stock. It was a fabulous deal and I got it through a spam email. So, it really makes me scratch my head and wonder how are they making money off of that because I just don’t think that there is anything that really jumps out at somebody and frankly why would you want to buy something that came through you through that unsolicited format.
So it is baffling to me but, you know, we get just as much of it as you are, as well as any of the folks that you see out there and it make us shake our heads. But, you know, they are still out there and it always goes in a up and down format usually around October through the end of winter, you know, we usually see the peak time for spam and right around now it seems like it is dropping off a little bit. But yeah, as far as a firm solution; I don’t know, we will see a lot of things put forward probably in the next few years but we have seen things put forward before. But none of them really seem to stick, don’t seem to have teeth or spammers seem to find a way to use it to their advantage. So, you know, it is a hard call; it really is.
IdentityTheftSecrets: Right. Well, in the meantime I think you and I both will be proponents of people educating themselves about what is going on out there and what they can do to protect their own computer until some sort of systematic thing gets set up. I mean, on that line there is a lot of spam filtering and junk email block software. There is all kind of stuff out there but, you know, I came across your software and I find that it be kind of interesting, I mean, I’ve never talked about software in Identity Theft Secrets before but; I think your software provides some unique kind of things, but if you would just take a couple of minutes and talk about what makes spambully different than a lot of the other stuff that is out there.
Spambully (Paul Jendrasiak): Sure, I’ll be glad to do that Jonathan. First of all, one of the number one things that set us apart is; spambully is what it is called Bayesian on filtering, it is almost kind of an artificial intelligence. When we install spambully for the first time, it takes the time to learn your email habits so it customizes to you. So, it knows what type of email you consider good and what type of email you consider spam. So, it makes sure that the emails that you have from friends, or certain type of text, how emails are made up; that you consider good emails make it to your inbox and emails that you consider that are spam don’t go to your inbox.
We also have an allowed block list on there, which allows you to have people on there who are your friends, people that you don’t want emails from, words that are important to you. So, if you run a business, you can put in words that pertain to your business so that you know that those emails are always going to go to you inbox. You can also block out or add entire domains. We also have anti-phishing technology on there so emails will be flagged if there is a link in there that doesn’t seem legitimate. So on the face of it, it make look like this is a link to Pay Pal but the reality is that it is not so we see that for you so you don’t have to do all the work. So, that is one way we want to help keep people out of trouble from running into any sort of an identity theft issue or, you know, getting their Pay Pal account cleaned out or their eBay account hijacked by somebody.
So, basically spam bully is a fairly easy piece of software. When you download your email, it sorts it out automatically; we have a simple toolbar that allows you to correct things. So, if you noticed an email that you consider to be spam in your inbox, you can mark it with a spam button, it sends it to the spam folder. It trains spambully so in the future it is going to operate in the way that you want so that the emails that are showing in your inbox are going to be friendly emails. Emails that you are interested in and we do a two week free trial and so you can download it from spambully.com and you can use all the features for two weeks free, make sure you like it and we also customize into a variety of different languages, you know, the internet is obviously a huge international venue so, we customize for Germans, Spanish, Italians, Russian; those are just a few of the languages we can transform into. You can also, for a lot of the folks that use PDA, you know, with the cell phones, what have you, we can also set it up so we can always send your good emails right straight to that so you won’t have to get all the spam junk that you normally would. So that is really kind of a handy feature that folks seem to like.
IdentityTheftSecrets: Right, yeah I definitely saw that on there. There is a lot of software that doesn’t include that and it seems like a pretty basic thing.
We are actually running out of time here very shortly but I wanted to; if you have any kind of thoughts about what people can be doing in general. I mean, just kind of general things obviously, you know, installing your software is a good thing for them to do but in general; are there some things that people should be doing to keep their name or, you know, protect their information from being on the spam list or to reduce the amount of spam that is coming into their inbox?
Spambully (Paul Jendrasiak): Yeah, absolutely. A few very important things that they can do is; if you are going to be out there on the internet posting forums, asking questions, anything that would allow somebody to harvest your email address, use a secondary email address. Use a free email address from a Yahoo, Hotmail, or a Gmail so that you are protecting your main email address which you may use, you know, for correspondence with family and friends or a business address. That is going to help you out big time. Also, if you run a business make sure that you don’t put your email address right on your website, set it up as a form so that, you know, spammers aren’t necessarily going to be able to harvest your address. So, any types steps that you can take in and do things such as that to keep your real email address as private as possible, that is going to benefit you because we still see to this day people posting their real email address on forums and other places on the internet and it is too easily harvestable for spammers and then they are going to get it. So, if you are on one list then you are going to be on ten lists, and if you are on ten lists then you are going to end up on about one hundred lists, and so on and so forth. So, it is to your benefit to be as vigilant as possible to keep your real email address as private as possible. That is probably the number one tip and the easiest thing to do.
IdentityTheftSecrets: Good deal. I used to actually, I had to shut down my Hotmail account because when I first started doing web design and websites and things I put my Hotmail address on every single web page that I built and that account with Hotmail gets about three hundred and fifty junk email messages a day. So, I know that personally that it is not a good idea to put your info out there. I mean putting up a forum.
Spambully (Paul Jendrasiak): There are some bad folks out there and whatever they can do to get your details, they are going to do. So, like I said before, it is a very much a cat and mouse situation.
IdentityTheftSecrets: Well, do you have any kind of final thoughts as we rap up the call here? Anything you would like to share specifically with people?
Spambully (Paul Jendrasiak): I think that what you are doing is a fantastic idea to better educate folks on identity theft and things such as spam and phishing and anybody out there, such as yourself who, you know, can take the time to do that; it puts people in a better position because it is a jungle out there because you really got to keep your guard up. Whatever you can do to keep your information to yourself; whether it is financial or just merely your email address, you’ve got to do. You know, you just have to stay ahead of these folks and, you know, that is one of the things that we try to do with spam bully, you know, helping people keep their email boxes as clean as possible and helping them stay out of trouble with avoiding phishing schemes. So, you know, whatever you can do to remain vigilant I think that is an incredibly important thing.
IdentityTheftSecrets: Well, Paul thank you very much for taking a few minutes with us today and we will >link directly to spambully so people can go and check out the information there, and obviously, sign up for your free trial if they like to do that. I just thought the software was definitely offering some unique features.
Spambully (Paul Jendrasiak): I really appreciate you taking the opportunity to talk to us about spambully and spread the word.
IdentityTheftSecrets: Absolutely. I hope you have a great afternoon and thank you very much for talking.
Spambully (Paul Jendrasiak): Thank you.