Anti-Spam Redux

Lycos Europe strikes back at spammers. But who really benefits and who really suffers?

ITPro Today

November 26, 2004

1 Min Read
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If you've read my recently editorials about blacklists (Blacklists Decrease Spam and Blacklists: Readers Respond ) then you probably remember the part  I wrote about how some entities cannot resist striking back at spammers. In the editorial I said that essentially such people act like vigilantes and there is evidence that as a result sometimes innocent people suffer with little if any remorse on the part of the wanna-be vigilantes. 

Today while cruisin' the net and reading news I came across an interesting story over at El Reg, "Lycos Screensaver to Blitz Spam Servers." In reading the story you'll learn that Lycos Europe has released a screensaver for Windows and Mac OS X systems that will send page requests to the Web sites of alleged sources of spam.

The logic behind this ploy is to create a burden on spammers via bandwidth utilization. In many countries people have to pay for bandwidth usage so Lycos hopes that millions of page requests can be generated, which in turn will cost the spammers money and also slow down their Web servers -- hopefully without creating a denial of service condition. The story points out that if enough people actually use such a screensaver it could lead to terabytes of bandwidth usage.

Is that what the Internet needs -- more congestion? How can someone justify this sort of activity against somebody who may have never sent them an unsolicited email message? What sort of sense does it make to sink to the level of a spammer by "spamming" a Web site because the operator spams people's inbox?

I think most of you agree that a better tactic might be to use a good spam filter. Does anybody think the Lycos Europe screensaver is a bright idea?

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