Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Sick of spam? Attack the spammers!

No seriously! BBC reports in this article of a new screeensaver developed by Lycos that repeatedly sends data to spammers websites. In effect, it increases the bandwidth usage for their websites and causes them to pay a lot more money -- and driving them out of business.

Currently only launched in Europe, you can download the screensaver here. Thousands of people have already downloaded it and have started bombarding spammers. Lycos has maintained that the screensaver will not cripple the spammer's website by causing a DDOS attack (because they will be monitoring traffic). It will just increase their bandwidth by orders of magnitude. Here is the Slashdot story on it too.

Download the screensaver to be part of the War Against Spammers!

19 comments:

Zunaira said...

The screensaver's funky ;~) "Make Love Not Spam" If I had a vaporizer, I would zap them spammers too--just like the screensaver!

Rafay Bin Ali said...

What if Lycos sends personal data without our permission? Plus, spammers dont own the SMTP servers used to send spam -at least, i dont think they do. This means that there is no fool-proof means to track down spammers. How is it possible to do what has just been described?

I wouldnt trust any search engine to download anything to my system and I suggest the rest of you do the same.

Rafay Bin Ali said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Zunaira said...

Re. sending personal data...I'm sure anyone downloading and installing a new software/screensaver would read SOME fineprint before you do. I did and installed at my own aware risk, of course.

SQ said...

By that philosophy, *ANY* program or application that you run on your computer can send out personal information (without you ever finding out). It can be Solitaire, Microsoft Word, Mozilla Firefox, or Doom 3. At some point, you have to trust the company who wrote that piece of software. And if you don't, then the only way to guarantee against someone collecting your information is to disconnect your computer from the Internet.

I see no reason why Lycos would do something like that. Imagine the flame they would get for killing spammers at the expensive of collecting personal information.

The screensaver has nothing to do with SMTP servers. Most spam emails (if not all) are about some product that they are trying to sell -- cheap Viagra for instance. And to be able to sell something, the spammers always put a URL for a website in their spam email. The screensaver will go and bombard the websites that are listed in the email. It will not flood SMTP servers.

Anonymous said...

Sameer, I guess you do have a point. However, search engines have been known to have relationships with malware developers (Yahoo and Gator for instance). On the other hand, we have no choice but to trust the vendor in some instances (Microsoft, for example).


Rafay Bin Ali

Anonymous said...

And what about legal problems? If you flood a site the traffic would be from your system right? Couldnt that get you in more trouble?

BTW, thanks for clarifying the issue that web sites would be bombarded.

Rafay Bin Ali

Aay Dee said...

blah,it means Lycos supporting DDoS attacks?

Merlinx said...

Why not just plunder, burn their houses and take their women while you're at it? :-)

This is an eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth approach. While I tend to agree that it would probably be effective technically, it is questionable ethically because it has a distinct lynch-mob, vigilante flavor. In other words, yep, the organizations instigating this may find themselves in the line of fire under the laws in some places.

Zunaira said...

I make no apology of the fact that I did download this screensaver to go for the eye-for-an-eye approach. So few of you have taken it that way. Am I the only one getting 200+ junk messages a day?

Merlinx said...

Hehe...impulsive! :-))

I can think of many times when I've felt that way about certain things. The cyberworld does that to you, doesn't it? Bring out the vigilante, or the critic, or the creative genius, or the romantic, or the socialite, or the vagabond,... ;-)

SQ said...

Rafay Bin Ali: An individual's system is not flooding the site. All the systems together that are running the screensaver will flood the site. The amount of traffic that your system generates is only a few megabytes in a day. So you and I shouldn't get into trouble.

Aay Dee: No, Lycos is not supported DDoS attacks. They claim they will monitor the traffic, and make sure that the website is not crippled.

Merlinx: Nothing else has worked with spammers, so now we fight the battle on their turf. You spam me, I spam you. It's all fair. :-) As for Lycos getting into trouble with the law, I don't see how they can get into any more trouble than the spammers themselves.

Bill Gates has said that he plans to make it very expensive for spammers to send spam. This is one of the ways of achieving that.

Aay Dee said...

okay, this indicates that Lycos are not trying to get-down the spam server instead they want to slow-down it.rite.

besides, a news slashdot-ed :
"Attempting to download the screen saver from lycos results in this message 'Yes, attacking spammers is wrong, you know this, you shouldn't be doing it. Your ip address and request have been logged and will be reported to your ISP for further action.' Or maybe it's just a joke -- can you ever tell?"
http://it.slashdot.org/it/04/12/01/0250244.shtml?tid=111&tid=218

atrophying said...

Update: Lycos claims the hacking attempt to be a hoax - check here

Anonymous said...

So when did TWO WRONGS sum up to be ONE RIGHT ?

Tee Emm said...

Lycos has pulled back the screen saver from its site.

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