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Old 12-06-2004, 02:35 AM   #1
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Lycos screen saver attacks spammers
Friday, December 3, 2004 Posted: 12:08 AM EST (0508 GMT)

MADRID, Spain (AP) -- At the risk of breaching Internet civility, Lycos Europe is offering computer-users a weapon against spam-spewing servers: a screen-saver program that automatically hits the offenders with data to slow them down.

Around 65,000 people already signed up for the offensive, called "Make Love not Spam" before Tuesday's official launch on a website by the same name, the company said. It is urging its 22 million users to download the screen-saver, but says anyone with a computer is welcome to it.

The company insists the technique is legal -- it says the culprit servers are simply choked a bit, not completely asphyxiated -- and dismissed concerns that computers which ping servers blamed for unwanted Internet traffic are further clogging the world's digital pipeline.

The program activates whenever a computer equipped with it goes into standby mode, and sends so-called HTTP get-requests to what Lycos says are servers known to generate unsolicited e-mails. When done en masse, this eats up precious bandwidth, causing the servers to overload and slow down, the company said.

The goal, said Lycos Europe spokesman Kay Oberbeck, is to "show the owners of such spam web sites that there is massive interest of thousands of users who are not willing to just give up against more and more spam each day."

Lycos chooses its targets by reviewing spam monitors such as and manually checking blacklisted sites to see if they really do carry products promoted by spam.

But Oberbeck acknowledged the risk of going after a legitimate site that has been hijacked by a spam-spewing site. "You have to be careful and that is what we are doing," he said from Guetersloh, Germany.

He said Lycos takes care not to crash spam servers altogether, respecting at least some of their bandwidth. "They will never go down below 5 percent bandwidth. Never."

Is it legal? "Yes. We checked."

Cyberspace activism -- such as virtual sit-ins in which computer users gang together and point browsers at a site, then use automated tools to send requests to it -- is not new, said Dorothy Denning, a professor of defense analysis at the Navy Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

But in this case a for-profit company is the driving force.

"I guess the interesting question is whether or not that company might be liable under some law, and would probably be liable, certainly, at least under a lawsuit by the spammers," she said.

And the Lycos screen-saver adds more traffic to the Internet even as it tries to clear it of unwanted traffic, and probably has a minor impact on the targeted sites. "Those sites can always just pack up and use another IP address," Denning said. Or they can just buy more bandwidth.

"The cost of adding extra bandwidth may be worth the reward that comes from spamming," she said.

My views:

I think this is AWESOME, and hope more people use this, and BLAST these freaking spammers servers. Crash them!

BTW, spammers have found my guestbook, and attempt to post their **** and URL's. But I don't allow links!! HAHA! Dumb asses. Well, I have their IP's, and have banned their IP's from even GETTING to the server. (Meaning they cannot reach my domain name) [img]smile.gif[/img]

Spam is slowly destroying the internet. Usenet (Newsgroups) have all mostly been ruined. 80% of all emails sent last year were all SPAM emails.

SOMETHING has to be done. I remember the days before the mass public knew about the internet--1994-ish, when there were no ad banners, no pop ups, and it was ALL content. I think the worlds governments should somehow make email addresses be like drivers licenses. You must register it, and it is 100% traceable. Pass laws that 100% ban spam email in all Countries.

It's getting so bad, it's beginning to really piss me off to where I don't even like to check my email--and have created secret email addresses I only give to friends and NEVER post it on a website or in a forum--as bots will 'phish' for email addresses and sell them to spammers.

How do YOU feel about spam these days? I mean, now they use the windows messenger service to do pop ups (a service you should have OFF), spam guestbook's, spam FORUMS (which makes me want to kill them) and it's only going to get worse unless some law is passed where these weasels cannot spew their rubbish.
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Old 12-06-2004, 03:02 AM   #2
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hmm. i admit, it would be nice to get some paybacl to those folk who clog y yahoo address, but then that is why i have my gmail address. totally clean. but this looks sweet, would it really work though to retaliate? what if this just makes those desperate spammers richer because they would have to make some sort of spam program to counter this, then sell that to other spammers. This screensaver could erupt into and entire black market of spam! but yeah, looks cool, may get it myself if i can. i hope Bozos of Bones isn't mad cause they used his sig!

Oh, and passing a law against it will stop nothing. all that would do is make spammers work harder, and allow more lawsuits to be filed against innocent people and companies because someone sent his buddy a link to some store's site. taht is the last thing we need here, another McDonalds episode.

[ 12-06-2004, 03:06 AM: Message edited by: armageddon272 ]
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Old 12-06-2004, 03:43 AM   #3
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Sound's good to me, I get around 3-4 Thousand junk email's each month..

I do hope the spammers try and sue sombody for this though, just think of the president, lose and they have no legal recourse so programs like this could be sold and used, if they won they shoot their own feet..

I'd much rather it sent them mass Email spam trafic though.
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Old 12-06-2004, 04:21 AM   #4
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I wasn't hurting anyone! They told it was GOOD spam! They told me it was funny!

*runs away from everywhere*

It's a great idea though!

I think I will join it myself... if you post a link

[ 12-06-2004, 04:22 AM: Message edited by: Callum ]
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Old 12-06-2004, 10:26 AM   #5
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The spammers have already fought back. Apparently Lycos' web page for this was hacked (and since repaired).

Personally, I despise spam. Love the meat product, hate the mail. On my work email, I get around 200 emails a day, more or less. About half come from an email list I belong to, and where I've had perhaps six spams in the past four years. Of the remaining hundred or so that show up in my inbox, about 75% are spam. It's pathetic.

One thing to consider if using this screen saver... they get your IP, too.

And on the thought... I believe it's wrong to do this. Sure, spammers are nasty, but does that justify creating a denial-of-service attack on them? Once they're done (if they ever are), how long until some other group gets focus, and this is launched on them?

*steps gingerly*

Would it really take a lot of anti-gaming people to decide that a forum like IW encourages gaming (that known bad behavior) and therefore want to launch a DDOS attack to stop this bad behavior? 'Tis no different than doing the same thing to spammers...
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Old 12-06-2004, 10:35 AM   #6
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Sounds like a (mostly) good idea, Z! Spam is a horrible thing, especially when you use a dial-up connection...shoot, it makes the "internet experience" more like getting splashed by a car running through a puddle than opening new horizons.

Is that what you really want to say?
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Old 12-06-2004, 10:50 AM   #7

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I'm all for this. I appreciate Bungleau's point about DDOS being a two-edged sword, but right here - right now, we lack weapons to use against these bottom feeding bastards.
If it's going to take governmental intervention to get these s**tbags off the net, it will be a long wait for anything to happen, and the end results will likely be disappointing, given the government track record for fubaring 98% of what they attempt. If other countries have better control over the net in their jurisdiction, it would be useful to see what they're doing about it.
I'd like to see someone develop IP address-specific worms that will take down a selected site and not propagate beyond that.
Old 12-06-2004, 10:57 AM   #8
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I was on Usenet when it was starting the major 'spamjunk' decline and I really miss the the 'before' time when you could have a newsgroup that wasn't all trolls and junk posts.

I get more spam mail than real mail some days and it's frustrating but I've gotten to the point where I just automatically use filters and such as a matter of course. Shame that we should HAVE to do that to keep the junk out, but if this new Lycos thing works, maybe spammers will get the message, stranger things have happened! LOL
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Old 12-06-2004, 11:01 AM   #9

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Awesome maybe I'll even set my computer in screensaver mode in windows instead of linux or try if it works in wine Great way to screw those spammers [img]smile.gif[/img]
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Old 12-06-2004, 11:27 AM   #10
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Sounds like a bad idea. I'm saying this from a networking researcher's point of view (sounds so professional ) Here we are striving to reduce congestion on networks and speed things up and this wants to introduce more traffic? How do you think the servers being attacked will be attacked? As it says, the screensaver sends loads of get requests, i.e. data packets. These packets have to travel from your comp over the internet, using link capacity on all the links between your ISP and those servers.

Don't be suprised to see increases in internet bills and introductions of more monthly-capped download limits if things like this get more common.

Yeah I know what you're gonna say: the spammers are generating more traffic congesting the internet and overall if they stop, this will reduce traffic. Yeah, IF they stop and until then there's loads of extra traffic.

[ 12-06-2004, 11:28 AM: Message edited by: Vaskez ]
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