On a previous article, I dealt with the risks and consequences of using banned IP addresses when using a VPN provider’s service. I even ended up concluding that this isn’t specific to VPN services, as your internet service provider is also “sharing” the same IP address to multiple customers, but VPN services are more keen on being a target for spammers since they cover multiple countries. Let’s see what are the policies or tricks that serious VPN service providers are using so as to limit spammers.
How spammers obscure their IP addresses
Spammers are notorious for being annoying, obnoxious, and can be an absolutely destructive force hidden behind the cloak the protection of a keyboard, monitor and computer gives them. Despite how absolutely frustrating getting spam emails and spam pop-ups can be, you have to hand it to the spammer in the mask. They are usually technological geniuses and extremely clever, able to do things with a computer that most others couldn’t. One such ability that any spammer must have is that ability to cloak the address, the URL that they are sending you to when you click on their link.
Cloak the URL
Instead of using a normal URL, such as http://www.insert-domain-name-here.com, a spammer will hide his web address behind a string of numbers. This might look something like http://83458937892/?.
At first glance, it looks like nothing but a randomly written line of numbers that couldn’t possibly go anywhere. They didn’t even care to specify whether it was a .com or .net or .org address. Upon further inspection, one could deduct it is a valid link and will take you just where that spammer wanted you to go. He has successfully tricked you by hiding his real domain name.
Why do spammers do this?
So why do spammers obscure address? It is simple. They don’t want you to know who they are. If they give you their real domain name, you could figure out who they are with a “WhoIs” search. Much of what spammers do can be considered against the law, so they most certainly don’t want this. Cloaking their URL like this gives them the power to go unknown.
Get the real URL
There are several ways you can get around this to actually know the domain of the string of numbers sent to you. One involves a little complex math you can figure out with the calculator added to most computers on install.
Other methods involve entering the sting of numbers into your command line with the nslookup command. Using this you can determine the IP address as well as get a domain name.
VPN providers: “NO” to spam
Let’s first see the “policy” part. Most of VPN service providers stipulate in their end-user license agreement that their client shouldn’t use the service for spamming. That’s already a start but sometimes, users aren’t even aware that they are spamming – if their computer has been affected by a virus, for example, most users won’t even notice that their computer is used by some hackers to spread some spams.
Who actually fully read this end-user license agreement?
On the other hand, who actually fully read this end-user license agreement? Raise your hand. I’m pretty sure that if we will only count 10% (or even less) of people who actually read those licenses, and even if a spammer read it, do you actually think that will prevent him from spamming?
The choice of VPN providers is so large that they can afford being banned from one provider, and move to the next one. In fact, if we take some time to read that license agreement, more often than not, it is stipulated that the VPN service provider reserve the right to terminate the account if they found that the client is doing something prohibited (including spam) with their service. Actually, the control is done “à posteriori”, which means that the damage is already done, and the IP may already have been banned- terminating the account would just be an administrative process.
So, how do you check it before opting for a VPN provider?
Almost none of the VPN providers are publicly stipulating how they technically address spam, in fact, the only thing they can see from their end is suspicious traffic going through the VPN tunnel, and they can bring down that tunnel and terminate the account.
This actually means that you need to do some background check on your end so as to identify if the VPN provider you are considering to work with has had some issue of being banned because of spam. If it ever happened (which may be the case for almost all VPN providers, due to their public commercial offer), the main thing you want to check is: how did they address it. You can find this information on forums and blog posts, or online Q&A sites, and you can eventually directly ask the VPN provider.
VPN providers spam policy: Conclusion
A good indication for choosing the right VPN provider is to check how long they’ve been in the business of providing VPN services. In fact, those who have long experience are likely to be good enough to have dealt with this spam issue correctly.
What do you think about the VPN providers spam policy? Have you ever been banned for spam? Share your thoughts in the comments below.