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As expected, spammers don't seem too impressed with the US Can Spam Act, which was enforced on January 1. Nor have they changed their tactics.

The US Can Spam Act attempts to regulate rather than ban the practice of spamming, but it outlaws so-called fraudulent spam, where spammers use open relays/proxies to send their messages. Falsified email headers can now also be punished with prison terms, as can sending sexually-oriented email which is not properly labelled.

However, many spam gangs pretend to operate offshore to get around laws, and they continue to do so, by the looks of it. The NANAS sightings newsgroup (a large collection of spam, updated continuously) doesn’t contain one spam message that is CAN SPAM compliant.

"At best," Steve Linford, director of antispam organisation Spamhaus, says, "Can Spam will convert small amounts of illegal spammers over to spamming legally, until they can see how ineffective enforcement is."

However, Spamhaus plans to fight back. Yesterday, it released its Exploits Block List (XBL), a real-time DNS-based database of IP addresses of illegal 3rd party exploits, including open proxies, worms/viruses with built-in spam engines, and other types of trojan-horse exploits utilized by spammers. This list is designed to sit alongside the Spamhaus Block List (SBL), which blocks incoming spam from direct spam sources. The combination of SBL and XBL enables ISPs to safely reject a high volume of incoming spam outright, Spamhaus says.

The Spamhaus Block List was widely adopted in 2003 by major banks, airlines and industries to whom e-mail delivery integrity is vital. Last month the number of mail users protected by the SBL surpassed 200 million. ®

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