Wednesday, May 17, 2006

On the net, Terrorists win...

That should score me some points with the NSA, unfortunately I'm talking about Spammers, not Al Qaeda. Today Blue Security Inc. called it quits. Blue Security had an interesting idea, you sign up to their service and report a spam message who wouldn't let you unsubscribe. Then all of the subscribers on Blue Security would hit the spammer with "stop sending this junk" style messages effectively choking the ability of the spammer to send out anything.

At least in theory. Unlike the idea of everyone sending back the prepaid credit card applications with nothing in them, this one had a solid backing of people. Enough so that the Spammers took notice and counter attacked - hard.
Then, earlier this month, a Russia-based spammer counterattacked, Reshef said. Using tens of thousands of hijacked computers, the spammer flooded Blue Security with so much Internet traffic that it blocked legitimate visitors from going to, as well as to other Web sites. The spammer also sent another message: Cease operations or Blue Security customers will soon find themselves targeted with virus-filled attacks.
And after a decent battle, the spammer won. They managed not only to flood Blue Security off the wire but also Six Apart Ltd. (think TypePad) and TuCows. Vicious, and totally expected. If you shoot at a terrorist, would you be surprised if they shot back? I wouldn't be, in fact, I'd expect them to do something I didn't expect - you can look to Iraq for (too) many illustrations of this effect.

Unfortunately, Blue Security must have been working, otherwise the spammers wouldn't have been striking back. So we, the users that must endure being bald, impotent and silly enough to invest in something sent to us via email, lose one more tool that we could have used in this battle against spam.

I have to wonder though; is this like blaming the video game for your kid pulling a Columbine? Is it really the best we can do to stop the spammers is to fight back using their tactics instead of getting people to realize that Spam in your inbox is as false as the "Free Vacation" being offered via the postal mail? You know, the one you instantly threw in the trash?

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