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 Nov 30, 2004 - 12:00 PM - by Michael
* Fight Spam with a Screensaver?

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PC Games/Hardware/Microsoft
Highly dubious, but worth mentioning - a screensaver has been released which purports to use your computer's idle time to attack Spammers and drive up their bandwidth costs.

Internet portal Lycos has made a screensaver that endlessly requests data from sites that sell the goods and services mentioned in spam e-mail.

Lycos hopes it will make the monthly bandwidth bills of spammers soar by keeping their servers running flat out.

The net firm estimates that if enough people sign up and download the tool, spammers could end up paying to send out terabytes of data.
What's wierd is, it's not a no-name operation: Lycos is still decently big in the internet world, though their search engine business fell on hard times since Google took over.

The program's available here, although it appears someone's trying to DoS them. Spammers, perhaps?

It's a risky call. One or two mis-directed campaigns and it could draw the ire of authorities from various countries, and there's the question of the legality of vigilante attacks. Then again, from their criteria:

The sites being targeted are those mentioned in spam e-mail messages and which sell the goods and services on offer.

Typically these sites are different to those that used to send out spam e-mail and they typically only get a few thousand visitors per day.

The list of sites that the screensaver will target is taken from real-time blacklists generated by organisations such as Spamcop. To limit the chance of mistakes being made, Lycos is using people to ensure that the sites are selling spam goods.
The human factor's a good call, but it may dilute their response time. Still, the spammers have to keep their pages up at least for days in order for the email campaigns to be effective. Only time can tell whether it's going to be a workable approach with good results.
 

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