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AT&T portal Excite@Home has been threatened with banishment from Usenet's vast labyrinth of newsgroups on allegations of massive spamming. Usenet issued an ultimatum and deadline of 18 January if the objectionable practice is not brought under control. A mis-communication between the protagonists appears to have enlarged the drama and brought both parties to the brink, though a late email exchange between Usenet users and @Home indicates that the two sides are now working together in something like a state of cautious cooperation. Excite@Home's excuse was novel to say the least. Incorrectly configured proxy software on computers belonging to @Home subscribers permitted them to be used as relay points for malicious, outside spammers, @Home Network Policy Manager David Jackson explained. In an eleventh-hour appeal for a stay of execution, @Home posted an explanation on Usenet, and proposed "stepping up our involvement and taking more aggressive action by performing frequent network wide scans of our customer base to target proxy servers." "Once these customers are identified, we are suspending their news service immediately. Re-enabling will not occur until we are assured that their machines are secure. We feel that this proactive effort will dramatically decrease the amount of extraneous news traffic originating from home.com," the company said. "With these new tactics in place, we are asking for an extension to our USENET access beyond the 18th of January and we are confident that the USENET community will see positive news statistics coming in the next few days," @Home predicted. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, @Home "failed to take into account the moderation process used in three of the four groups where the response was posted. The result of this is, the response did not appear on any properly configured NNTP (Net News Transfer Protocol) server," Usenet user David Ritz revealed. This then led to a dialogue in which the Usenet groups appear to have conceded a bit more time for @Home to sort out its subscribers' proxy settings. "I'm going to make a request that they receive some additional time to be able to make the sweeping changes needed to really put a stangle on spam originated through their network, Usenet's Ritz told The Register. "@Home's acknowledging the problem is the first step toward their becoming good Usenet neighbours again," he added. As always, we will update the story with grave diligence as more facts become available. ® Link to Usenet FAQ What is Usenet?

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