War on spam!

Anti-spam plan overwhelms sites

A plan to bump up the bandwidth bills of spammers seems to be getting out of control. Earlier this week Lycos Europe released a screensaver that bombards spam websites with data to try to increase the cost of running such sites.

But analysis shows that, in some cases, spam websites are being completely overwhelmed by the traffic being directed their way.

Attack pattern

Lycos Europe's "Make love not spam" campaign was intended as a way for users to fight back against the avalanche of junk mail messages coming their way.

Participants were encouraged to download the Lycos screensaver which, when their PC was idle, would then send lots of data traffic to websites that peddle the goods and services mentioned in spam messages.

Lycos said the idea was to get the spam sites running at 95% capacity and generate big bandwidth bills for the spammers behind the sites.

The screensaver has reportedly been downloaded more than 90,000 times since it was launched.

But monitoring firm Netcraft has analysed response times for three of the sites the screensaver targets and has found that the campaign is being too successful.

Two of the sites being bombarded by data have been completely knocked offline. One other site has been responding to requests only intermittently as it struggles to cope with the traffic the screensaver is pointing its way.

Great idea! Where do I sign up?

sounds interesting


Spammers being knocked offline?


only problem is this will increase the popularity of botnets that can dynamically host sites.

Seems like there should be client certificates for email or something to kill this problem. It's gotten so bad that I now have my outlook filter everything but people on my safe list. Unreal.

The war is over.

Anti-spam screensaver scrapped

A contentious campaign to bump up the bandwidth bills of spammers by flooding their sites with data has been dropped. Lycos Europe's Make Love, Not Spam campaign began in late November but its tactics proved controversial.

Lycos has shut down the campaign after coming under fire for encouraging vigilante activity and skirting the edge of the law.

Sites swamped

Through the Make Love, Not Spam website, users could download a screensaver that would endlessly request data from the net sites mentioned in many junk mail messages.

More than 100,000 people are thought to have downloaded the screensaver that Lycos Europe offered.
The company wanted to keep the spam sites running at near total capacity to make it much less financially attractive to spammers to operate the sites.

But the campaign was controversial from the moment it kicked off and many net veterans criticised it for using denial of service tactics against the senders of junk mail.

Some net service firms began blocking access to the Lycos Europe site in protest at the action.

Monitoring firm Netcraft found that the anti-spam campaign was proving a little too successful.

According to response-time figures gathered by Netcraft, some of the sites that the screensaver targeted were being knocked offline by the constant data requests.

In a statement from Lycos Europe announcing the scrapping of the scheme, the company denied that this was its fault.

"There is nothing to suggest that Make Love, Not Spam has brought down any of the sites that it has targeted," it said.

"At the time that Netcraft measured the sites it claims may have been brought down, they were not in fact part of the Make Love, Not Spam attack cycle," it added.

The statement issued by Lycos also said that the centralised database it used ensured that traffic to the target sites left them with 5% spare capacity.

"The idea was simply to slow spammers' sites and this was achieved by the campaign," the company said.

Many security organisations said users should not participate in the Lycos Europe campaign.

The closure comes only days after the campaign was suspended following the outbreak of criticism.

Why not do what we do. My company has a spam killer software package running on our mail servers that...basically, kills the spam and doesn't even store it. Kills spam and kills virus attachements. I used to get like 350 spam messages a day and more than a few virus attachments.

It's down to ZERO. Haven't gotten jack or shit since.

If you want to take a look at the software and what we are running check out http://imap.ald.net