Spammers get taste of their own medicine
By Maija Pesola
Published: December 1 2004 02:00
Internet users are being given the chance to hit back at the spammers that have become the scourge of the web, thanks to free software being distributed by Lycos Europe, the internet portal.
Lycos is inviting internet users to download a programme called "Make Love, Not Spam" from its website http://www.makelovenotspam.com
. The programme sits on the computer and, when the machine is not being used, it sends out traffic to the websites known to send out spam - unsolicited e-mail.
Last month the Office for Fair Trading said that spam accounted for more than 60 per cent of all e-mails on the internet with 80 per cent coming from outside the UK, making it hard for the British authorities to police. Lycos's idea is to slow down the spammers' websites with bogus requests, making it difficult for them to operate.
This is the same technique that was used by a number of cyber criminal gangs to jam corporate websites - including sites of online betting and payment processing companies - earlier this year.
Lycos says the software will stop short of bringing down spam sites completely, as this would be illegal. It aims to slow their operations considerably and to make it more expensive to operate the sites. Many websites are paid for on the basis of how much traffic they handle, so the extra information requests should cause costs to rocket.
Two months of testing in Sweden showed that certain spam sites could be slowed by as much as 85 per cent using the software.
The technique has already been used in underground anti-spam circles, but Lycos said it was now hoping to bring this into the mainstream. Even before its official launch the software has been downloaded by 72,000 people.
Spam costs the world an estimated $25bn (?14.8bn) a year in lost productivity and extra security measures.