Turning the tables
on bulk mailers...
Lycos is offering its customers a screensaver that helps
to launch denial-of-service attacks on spammers' websites
- a tactic more commonly associated with hackers or the
spammers themselves who abuse networks of compromised
machines to send large volumes of data.
move is designed to use the idle processing power
of a computer to slow down the response times from spammers'
Wessel Van Rensburg,
product manager of communications for Lycos, said: "Lycos
has been trying to position itself in the fight against
spam. It launches tonight in the UK. It aims to use our
community to fight spam. It uses idle computer power and
sends requests to spam sites."
On its website,
Lycos, which claims to have an army of more than 66,000
computers, says it has already attacked several websites,
slowing one down by 85 per cent of its operating speed.
The software is open to Windows and Mac users.
The company said
that when the screensaver is active it displays the location
and URL of the sites users' PCs are attacking, and that
Lycos decides the websites it will attack.
A spokesman for
the company said: "This gives internet users
the opportunity to hit spammers where it hurts. Sending
spam is not a minor misdemeanour, as spam causes billions
of pounds of damage to the economy. This is why we are
upping the ante in the fight against those responsible
attacks are illegal in a many countries and some organisations
have criticised the move. Steve Linford, director of non-profit
anti-spam organisation Spamhaus, has dedicated the last
eight years of his life to fighting spammers. He said
that Lycos has failed to think the idea through.
of Lycos to put its name to it because it lends legitimacy
to [DDoS] attacks," said Linford. "You can't
break into a thief's house just because he breaks into
yours. We don't support this or recommend this practice.
Directing traffic is part of the degradation of the internet
we are trying to stop."
On its web log,
security company F-Secure also warned users away
from the idea.
In its 'make
love not spam' campaign, Lycos entices users to join
the zombie army with the following message:
"Are you sick
of getting unwanted messages in your inbox? Here's your
chance to join the fight against spam as now you too
can get involved. Download the Make Love not Spam screensaver
- the only screensaver that actively works to stop the
spammers - and tell your friends to do the same to spread
mailings, click here