TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Lycos Pulls Anti-Spam 'Vigilante' Campaign

Re: Lycos Pulls Anti-Spam 'Vigilante' Campaign

Rick Merrill (
Wed, 08 Dec 2004 16:31:00 GMT

Lisa Minter wrote:

> Just days after Lycos Europe's launch of an anti-spam DDoS tool raised
> eyebrows in the security space, the company appears to have scrapped
> the campaign.

> Early last week, the company released a downloadable screensaver
> programmed to launch distributed denial-of-service attacks against
> known spam sites, but the move sparked a shooting war with spammers
> and attracted condemnation from security researchers.

> On Friday, Lycos Europe gave up the ghost, posting a "Stay Tuned" note
> on the Web site it was using to distribute the
> screensaver. The Lycos Europe home page, which heavily promoted the
> screensaver all week, was also scrubbed clean of any references to the
> screensaver.

> Company officials did not respond to requests for comment, but
> security experts were not mincing words.

> "I find the anti-spam downloadable DDoS tool to be without a doubt
> irresponsible, possibly illegal,

Illegal? Right, and enforced by the international "internet police"?

> the wrong impression to users, and possibly the dumbest thing I have
> heard of this week," said Adrien de Beaupre, an incident handler with
> the SANS Internet Storm Center (ISC).

As if that frenchie has a better idea?!

> "I can summarize my thoughts into a single word. Dumb. With a capital
> 'D,'" de Beaupre told

> Dan Goldberg, a senior security analyst with MADJiC Consulting Inc.,
> described the Lycos Europe move as "vigilantism" and said the use of
> questionable tactics to deal with a security risk created more
> problems that it solved.

Looks like Lycos just got ethics!

> "In this case, it only causes traffic saturation. It's a noble gesture
> to fight back against spammers, but when you try to take down a spam
> site, a lot of innocent people get caught in the crossfire. As a big
> company, Lycos has to be more responsible than that," Goldberg
> said.

True, unfortunately.

> Evidence of a shooting war in cyberspace was uncovered by anti-virus
> vendor F-Secure. The company reported that one of the spam sites under
> attack by the Lycos screensaver simply added a Meta Refresh tag that
> redirected all incoming traffic back to Lycos.

For every force ...

> "As an end result, depending on how the Lycos client works, the screen
> savers downloaded from might be attacking the
> download site itself," F-Secure said in a notice.

> Although the Lycos site is no longer offering the screensaver, MADJiC
> Consulting's Goldberg says it's likely the DDoS attacks against the
> spammers will continue for some time.

> "The software is out there. People have downloaded it and shared it
> with their friends and family. It's being used and will continue to be
> used," he said.

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