users are getting the chance to fight back against spam
"Internet portal Lycos has made a screensaver (download here) 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.
By getting thousands of people to download and use the screensaver, Lycos hopes to get spamming
websites constantly running at almost full capacity. Mr Pollmann said there was
no intention to stop the spam websites working by subjecting them with too much
data to cope with. He said the screensaver had been carefully written to ensure
that the amount of traffic it generated from each user did not overload the web.
"Every single user will contribute three to four megabytes per day," he said,
"about one MP3 file."
Update - A campaign by Lycos Europe to target
spam-related websites appears to have been put on hold.
Earlier this week the company released a screensaver that
bombarded the sites with data to try to bump up the running costs of the
"Lycos Europe's "Make love not spam" campaign was intended as a way for users
to fight back against the mountain of junk mail flooding inboxes. People were
encouraged to download the screensaver which, when their PC was idle, would then
send lots of data to sites that peddle the goods and services mentioned in spam
messages. Lycos said the idea was to get the spam sites running at 95% capacity
and generate big bandwidth bills for the spammers behind the sites. But the plan
has proved controversial. The downing
of the sites could dent Lycos claims that what it is doing does not amount
to a distributed denial of service attack. In such attacks thousands of
computers bombard sites with data in an attempt to overwhelm