Usenet junk e-mail could swamp the system Friday

Usenet junk e-mail could swamp the system Friday

Summary: A strike by anti-spammers that could potentially triple the amount of spam on Usenet has generated very little additional traffic today, according to observers. Large Internet service providers, meanwhile, say their customers should be unaffected by the strike.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Servers, Security
0
A strike by anti-spammers that could potentially triple the amount of spam on Usenet has generated very little additional traffic today, according to observers. Large Internet service providers, meanwhile, say their customers should be unaffected by the strike.

The strike, organized by a group of Net activists who call themselves despammers and devote time to cancelling out spam, or junk messages, on Usenet, is meant to force users and ISPs to be more active in stopping the proliferation of unsolicited messages.

But so far, there seems to have been little increase in the amount of spam on Usenet.



The big two in spamming say their all-spam network is near.




"We actually expected more activity than we've seen so far," said David Wilson, vice president of marketing at Deja News, the Web site that functions as a search engine for Usenet posts. A check on the level of canceled spam messages coming into the Deja News network as of mid-afternoon Friday showed roughly the same level as usual, Wilson added, making it seem likely that the threatened despammer strike is not actually taking place, or at least hasn't started yet.

'The despammers are cleaning up the mess, so where's the incentive?'
-- Dennis McClain-Furmansky

But the despammers say that it's a matter of time before the messages hit the fan.

"It's really too early to tell. Not everyone is stopping at exactly the same time, due to time zone differences, work commitments or whatever," said Andrew Gierth, one of the so-called despammers.

Why at strike?
"It has always been our intention that we should be aiming toward putting ourselves out of business by making spam cancels unnecessary," said Dennis McClain-Furmansky, who represents the despammers. "As this doesn't appear to be happening on its own, it is becoming necessary to force the issue. ... The despammers are cleaning up the mess, so where's the incentive?"

If the anti-spammers' estimates are correct, the number of junk messages circulating on Usenet is about double the number of legitimate messages. If true, the stoppage will probably cause a huge increase in the amount of spam newsgroup users see, and could cause some Usenet servers to overload.

Furmansky said some of the despammers might not take part in the strike, but expects about 95 percent of spam-hunting activity to cease.



Should users and ISPs do more to stop spam? Add your comments to this story below.





Strategy may not work
But if what large ISPs say is true, the despammers may not be able to generate much in the way of help from them. The major providers tend to perform their own spam filtering, and say a despammer strike won't affect them.

"We're running our own filters, and at this point 33 percent of the articles coming into our servers are spam," said Harry Smoak, director of net-abuse and terms-of-service policy at ISP Mindspring, in Atlanta.

With the volume of spam likely to be the same at smaller providers -- those with between 10,000 and 50,000 customers -- likely to be the same, a lack of filtering could prove "a major problem," Smoak said.

How anti-spammers work
If the anti-spammers' estimates are correct, the number of junk messages circulating on Usenet is about double the number of legitimate messages. If true, the stoppage will probably cause a huge increase in the amount of spam newsgroup users see, and could cause some Usenet servers to overload.

Furmansky said some of the despammers might not take part in the strike, but expects about 95 percent of spam-hunting activity to cease.

To delete junk messages, anti-spammers generate "cancel" messages, which tell servers to delete a particular piece of junk. On Friday, the anti-spammers will simply stop sending cancel messages.

A strike by anti-spammers that could potentially triple the amount of spam on Usenet has generated very little additional traffic today, according to observers. Large Internet service providers, meanwhile, say their customers should be unaffected by the strike.

The strike, organized by a group of Net activists who call themselves despammers and devote time to cancelling out spam, or junk messages, on Usenet, is meant to force users and ISPs to be more active in stopping the proliferation of unsolicited messages.

But so far, there seems to have been little increase in the amount of spam on Usenet.



The big two in spamming say their all-spam network is near.




"We actually expected more activity than we've seen so far," said David Wilson, vice president of marketing at Deja News, the Web site that functions as a search engine for Usenet posts. A check on the level of canceled spam messages coming into the Deja News network as of mid-afternoon Friday showed roughly the same level as usual, Wilson added, making it seem likely that the threatened despammer strike is not actually taking place, or at least hasn't started yet.

'The despammers are cleaning up the mess, so where's the incentive?'
-- Dennis McClain-Furmansky

But the despammers say that it's a matter of time before the messages hit the fan.

"It's really too early to tell. Not everyone is stopping at exactly the same time, due to time zone differences, work commitments or whatever," said Andrew Gierth, one of the so-called despammers.

Why at strike?
"It has always been our intention that we should be aiming toward putting ourselves out of business by making spam cancels unnecessary," said Dennis McClain-Furmansky, who represents the despammers. "As this doesn't appear to be happening on its own, it is becoming necessary to force the issue. ... The despammers are cleaning up the mess, so where's the incentive?"

If the anti-spammers' estimates are correct, the number of junk messages circulating on Usenet is about double the number of legitimate messages. If true, the stoppage will probably cause a huge increase in the amount of spam newsgroup users see, and could cause some Usenet servers to overload.

Furmansky said some of the despammers might not take part in the strike, but expects about 95 percent of spam-hunting activity to cease.



Should users and ISPs do more to stop spam? Add your comments to this story below.





Strategy may not work
But if what large ISPs say is true, the despammers may not be able to generate much in the way of help from them. The major providers tend to perform their own spam filtering, and say a despammer strike won't affect them.

"We're running our own filters, and at this point 33 percent of the articles coming into our servers are spam," said Harry Smoak, director of net-abuse and terms-of-service policy at ISP Mindspring, in Atlanta.

With the volume of spam likely to be the same at smaller providers -- those with between 10,000 and 50,000 customers -- likely to be the same, a lack of filtering could prove "a major problem," Smoak said.

How anti-spammers work
If the anti-spammers' estimates are correct, the number of junk messages circulating on Usenet is about double the number of legitimate messages. If true, the stoppage will probably cause a huge increase in the amount of spam newsgroup users see, and could cause some Usenet servers to overload.

Furmansky said some of the despammers might not take part in the strike, but expects about 95 percent of spam-hunting activity to cease.

To delete junk messages, anti-spammers generate "cancel" messages, which tell servers to delete a particular piece of junk. On Friday, the anti-spammers will simply stop sending cancel messages.

Topics: Servers, Security

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

0 comments
Log in or register to start the discussion