Lycos screensaver to blitz spam servers

When is a DDos attack not a DDoS attack?

Lycos Europe has started to distribute a special screensaver in a controversial bid to battle spam. The program - titled Make Love Not Spam, and available for Windows and the Mac OS - sends a request to view a spam source site. When a large number of screensavers send their requests at the same time the spam web page becomes overloaded and slow.

The servers targeted by the screensaver have been manually selected from various sources, including Spamcop, and verified to be spam advertising sites, Lycos claims. Several tests are performed to make sure that no server stops working. Flooding a server with requests so that the server is unable to respond to the volume of requests made - a process known as a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack - is considered to be illegal.

Lycos believes the program will eventually hurt spammers. 'Spamvirtised' sites typically don't sell advertising, so they have to pay for bandwidth. Therefore more requests means higher bills, Lycos argues.

A spokesman for Lycos in Germany told The Register he believed that the tool could generate 3.4MB in traffic on a daily basis. When 10m screensavers are downloaded and used, the numbers quickly add up, to 33TB of 'useless' IP traffic. Seems Lycos may hurt not just spammers. ®

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