Lycos launches anti-spam zombie army

Lycos launches anti-spam zombie army

Summary: Lycos is nurturing its own zombie army in a bid to bring down the world's most notorious spammers - with a screensaver called 'Make love not spam'

TOPICS: Security

Lycos is offering its customers a screensaver that helps to launch distributed denial-of-service attacks on spammers' Web sites.

The controversial move is designed to use the idle processing power of a computer to slow down the response times from spammers' Web sites.

"Lycos has been trying to position itself in the fight against spam," said Wessel Van Rensburg, product manager of communications for Lycos. "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 Web site, Lycos, which claims to have an army of more than 66,000 computers, says it has already attacked several Web sites, slowing one down by 85 percent 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 Web sites 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 for spam."

But DDoS 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.

"It's irresponsible 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 the love."

Topic: Security

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  • how can people defend the spammer criminals? Lycos has the best idea yet. Foolish are the ones who would rather spend dough on a spam filter while tying up more of their computer's resources and hard earned money.
  • Altough I am completely against spam/UCE, I am also against DoS and dDoS attacks of any kind.

    It's better to make them 'unwelcome' in their ISP/Host, than to degrade the connection of the host which could affect legitimate customers.

    It would be better to construct a program which submits spam to internet abuse sites so they can use 'proper' methods to put an end to them.

    Personally I can't wait for SMTP to be re-designed so spammers can't send things anonymously or through forgeries.
  • We're not defending the spammers, we're just saying that this process Lycos had dreamed up is badly designed and irresponsible. Also if the program can transmit the information regarding the sites it's attacking then what's to stop Lycos taking other information as well? Sorry if that sounds paranoid but it'll be a long time until I trust anything Lycos puts out.
  • This screen saver is a brilliant attempt to address this by visiting the sites the spam emails request them to, in such numbers that it increases their bandwidth and running costs. Well they did advertise for people to visit them!!! I dispise spam, it costs the world economy billions, disrupts global communications, delivers pornography to minors, and spreads viruses.

    Installed the screen saver three days ago and it worked fantastically with global statistisics and a world map showing where geographically the individual site requests were directed.

    After the first day the link to the main server failed to connect. I went to the web site and it appeared to have a hacked message. It seems the spammers may have taken revenge on the site. I guess this is temporary and will soon be fixed.

    'Zombie Army' appears an appropriate term as there seems to be a big battles occuring on the net behind the scenes involving terabytes of data and increasing army of antispammers using this screen saver (60,000 worldwilde and growing fast). I hope the anti-spammers triumph and the spammers find something more productive to do with thier time and energy.
  • Any way to stop the infection of spam is ok. Most of them falsify addresses, identification, and headers so they do not deserve to travel. I do think that the better answer is in authentication and the sooner that Microsoft or any other software developer distributes authentication software to ISP's to check addresses, headers, and even content the sooner we will see spam stopped or else they will quickly be identified and prosecuted for violating the laws of many lands. We will then know who the senders are and be able to track them and take actions against them if necessary. We will force them to be legal or they will be stopped.
  • And what happens when the addresses to be attacked get hacked? We then have the Lycos network doing distributed attacks against legitimate targets, and if that happens it is Lycos who are the ones who are going to get sued.

    This really is a STUPID idea.
  • I fully endorse this method - well done Lycos; politicians, organisations, companies, and institutions are either powerless or too pathetic to address the whole spamming issue - so power to the people. My only concern is ... who SHOULD control which sites are targetted?
  • Something, anything, needs to be done to stop spam. Not only do I get hundreds of spam a day, most of it complete garbage, mispelt junk about things I don't want and would never want. Some of it is even forged to look like it comes from me - so I appear to be sending spam to myself. Trying to stop it at the host is a waste of time, many originate in third world black holes and my own ISP, Pipex, appears to little or no interest at all in stopping it over their network. At least Lycos tried. Well done Lycos I say.
  • Spammers WANT hits. Let's GIVE them hits.
  • Do unto others as they do unto you:
    This S/W is an excellent idea.
    Unfortunately, I have read several comments along the lines of 'two wrongs don't make a right.' Well, that is hog-wash!
    If someone is attacking you, you must fight back. It isn't wrong to defend yourself.
    It may be illegal or unpopular to defend yourself, but is completely MORAL.
    Let the fools & passivists lay down and take a beating.
    I'm fighting back!

    What are you going to do?
  • Hmmm users of the screensaver might just be playing right into the spammers hands.

    Even a half decent web programmer can program data miners into a web page or site them at certain locations on a server.

    By mass hitting these spam sites you may actually be sending your details unwitingly to a spammer who has not yet spammed you.

    By using the target sites as mere data pickups the vast lists generated of mined data from these attacks can be sent to another server who can then start to spam on a seperate and unattacked subscriber line.

    If the zombie army was 66,000,000 instead of 66,000 then you might get somewhere but 66,000 subscribers relates to about 5,000 users at any one time not using their computers and so attacking the spammers, assuming that there are 100 spammer servers on the list this relates to a total attack of 50 users at any one time one any one spammer server.

    Now sorry guys but 50 hits a time is not going to phase a spammers servers.
  • it seems that all this spam loaded with virus's is ok to dishout,but when the consumer attacks back it so bad.consumers are spending millions of dollars on software to keep these crimmals from wiping out our systems,spam,mailware,tracking cookies,its time something is done to these people who are destroying peoples computers,stealing our identity.i'm tired of it and i will join whatever army i can to get back at what these people have done to me.the government wont help us,so matters are in are own hands now.whoever shut that service off need to get out of the way and shut up.
  • Personally I feel the best way to target spammers is by making the risks involved so huge that no-one wants to spam anyone..i.e. if you spam someone you get a 24hr jail sentence....multiply this by 10million spams and suddenly your put away for a VERY long time indeed :).

    Of course after spammers are in prison I personally would like to see if they want to start offering "massive growth and extra inches" etc to their <cough> cellmates.....
  • Visit Much better than the screensaver, which Lycos seems to have simply copied.
  • My idea: Join Lycos Mail. I've been a user since nearly 1999 and never (not once, surprisingly) received any spam. I use Yahoo Mail too and recommend them, but have on occassion gotten spam (not in months now). Hotmail I understand has gotten better, not long after I stopped using it because of the increasing spam.

    Join the best of the best free web-based email providers!!
  • Final Decision: You cannot fight wrong with a wrong.