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Application security programs and practises

An unseemly spat between SomethingAwful.com and SPEWS.org has flared up since the IP range used by the humour site was blacklisted by the anti-spam group late last month.

Something Awful shared a subnet, hosted by service provident Cogent, that also housed the domain of a recalcitrant spammer. This was enough to earn a blacklisting of the whole sub-domain by SPEWS on July 20.

Collateral damage

Zack Parsons, assistant editor at Something Awful, tells us that the blacklisting prevented the humour site from sending business-related emails to subscribers and advertisers despite its oft-stated hatred for spam email.

"Efforts to have the site de-listed from SPEWS were met with the insistence from SPEWS advocates that the pressure must be applied to Cogent. At some point during this blacklisting Photoshop-related humour site Worth1000 joined Something Awful on the blacklist," he writes.

Bun fight

Unable to resolve the situation, Something Awful this month advised its users to take advantage of the new official Something Awful Usenet group at news.admin.net-abuse.blocklisting.

But this group and news.admin.net-abuse.email were flooded with off-topic posts and trolls from Something Awful users, incensing SPEWS advocates.

According to Parsons, many SPEWS activists declared that they had permanently blacklisted Something Awful.

He alleges others "turned to less legal means and initiated DDoS attacks on the Something Awful server" or "attempted to hack passwords on the site's forums". These cracking efforts met with little success, Parsons reports.

In response, Something Awful subscribers "offered to return the favour for the attacks by DDoSing SPEWS or even re-routing top-level DNS for the site".

Something Awful has dissociated itself from these plans. Its owner, Rich 'Lowtax' Kyanka, is urging users not to strike back. Legal action by Something Awful against SPEWS also seems unlikely.

Meanwhile Zack 'Geist Editor' Parsons told us he would continue to advocate a high-level boycott of SPEWS.ORG's blacklist "in an effort to erode its 'draconian grip' over email services".

Both sides of the story

Parsons could do worse than join with critics set up anti-SPEWS Web site, SPEWSMonitor.info, which was established earlier this year to "counter the growing number of out-of-date, inaccurate and often malicious listings by SPEWS of entire subnets". Another site, antispews.org, has similar aims.

Defenders of SPEWS.org counter that organisations and individuals make their own choices about whether or not to use the service. All SPEWS does is produce an advisory list. The list's popularity is evidence that many find it useful, the argument goes.

Many people who complain against SPEWS.org use ISPs which failed to play their part in dealing with the spam tsunami, hence a blacklisting. Also blacklisting lists are updated more often by volunteers than SPEWS.org critics give it credit for. ®

Related Stories

Critics set up anti-SPEWS Web site
Florida spammers sue anti-spam groups
RSPCA in censorship crusade against humour site

External Link

SomethingAwful's Zack 'Geist Editor' Parsons in anti-SPEWS rant

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