[SURBL-Discuss] Re: [Mimedefang] Lycos Screensaver that attacks Spammers

David F. Skoll dfs at roaringpenguin.com
Wed Dec 1 17:46:10 CET 2004


On Wed, 1 Dec 2004, Kevin A. McGrail wrote:

> Below is an interesting article from The Washington Post where it details a
> new screensaver from Lycos.  The screensaver visits websites while your
> computer is idle that are referenced in SPAM and make it to a bad spammers
> list.  This is done in an attempt to limit the website ability to server
> traffic efficiently by causing extra traffic.

This is a very bad idea for a number of reasons:

1) In a lot of places, people's bandwidth is metered, so this will cost them
   money.  (The people running the screensaver, I mean.)

2) Just on principle, I don't approve of software that causes this kind
   of network traffic silently and in the background.

3) The potential for DoS'ing an innocent third-party is too great.

4) If spammers can commandeer huge armies of zombies to send spam, it's
   not a big jump for them to install Web servers on the zombies so they
   have a distributed network serving up their content that is resilient
   against the Lycos attack.  (In fact, this is the logical next step to
   counter SURBL.)

My anti-spam philosophy has always had as a basic principle: "First,
do no harm."  I don't think the Lycos screensaver adheres to this
principle.

Regards,

David.


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