Remember this week, for it was the week that we lost the fight against spam.
On May 5th I reported how militant spammer PharmaMaster had brought down the Blue Frog anti-spam vigilante service. I wondered then if it was the end of the toad for Blue Security, and sadly this has proven to be the case as CEO Eran Reshef has now closed the service in fear of escalating an online war claiming “I cannot go ahead and rip up the Internet to make Blue Security work.
Despite, or perhaps because of, the success of the Blue Frog ‘Do Not Include Registry’ proactive approach to targeting spam, ultimately the company could not fight an apparently highly organized spamming group in control of a colossal army of remote PC bots. The distributed denial of service attack might have had Blue Security as its target, but the collateral damage was hugely damaging across a swathe of Internet sites and services numbering well into the hundreds of thousands. Victims included blogging service TypePad after Blue Security blogged a warning to users on the Movable Type system when its homepage became unreachable. PharmaMaster responded within the hour with a targeted attack bringing down millions of blogs in the process. Web and mail servers hosted by domain registrar Tucows suffered a similar fate. This last 14 day period has shown just how far spammers will go when they sense their livelihood is threatened. Worryingly, it also displayed the power of the weaponry available to them and the organizational structure in place to deploy that power.
Reshef maintains that it is up to large ISPs and governments around the globe to take on spammers, and not be left to small Israeli start up. But to throw in the towel as Blue Security has done is nothing short of criminal. It is comparable to saying “pay the ransom in a hostage situation and expecting kidnapping to go away as a result. To conclude that this is a significant victory for the spammer is to understate the situation. Let’s be honest here, a show of brute force has revealed the strength of the spammer and the weakness of those who would seek to stop him. Until and unless law enforcement agencies are given teeth to bite back, and legislature displays the will to fight back, a spam free mailbox will remain just a fantasy.
For now, welcome to the Wild West 2.0 where the guy with blackest hat and the biggest gun rules the roost.