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Meet the world's most prolific spammers

Rogues' gallery

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Spamhaus has published a revised list of the world's 10 worst spammers. According to the anti-spam organisation, 200 professional spam gangs are responsible for 80 per of the high volume of junk mail pumped onto the internet every day.

Public enemy number one is a Ukrainian known variously as Alex or Alexey, a prolific user of botnets, networks of PCs compromised with malware, to send out junk mail in association with a Russian spam gang called Pavka/Artofit. Alexey is involved in distributing child porn spam, among the many types of unsolicited junk he spew onto the net every day.

The world's second worst spammer, according to Spamhaus, is Leo Kuvayev, who also works with Pavka/Artofit. Kuvayev was fined $37m for his anti-social activities by a Massachusetts court in October 2005. His present whereabouts are unknown.

Spamhaus's number three offender, Michael Lindsay of iMedia Networks, runs a spam-hosting operation in the US that's used by numerous other junk mail firms. Down at number eight on the list, but well-known to law enforcement agencies is Western Europe, is Alexey Panov, an author of software used to send spam from compromised PCs and something of a Baron Samedi of botnets.

Four of the world's most prolific spammers in Spamhaus's Register Of Known Spam Operations (ROKSO) database are from Russia and two are from the US. The other four members of the rogue's gallery are from Canada, Hong Kong, Israel and the Ukraine. Between them they push out a huge volume of junk mails touting porn, penis pills, loans, stock scams and other assorted tat.

Much of the problem from spam stems from ineffective enforcement action by ISPs. A small number of large ISPs go even further by knowingly selling services to professional spammers, or doing nothing to prevent spammers operating from their networks through either corporate greed or mismanagement.

Although all networks claim to be anti-spam, some can't resist the lure of selling services at a premium to spam operations. Others simply decide that purging botnet-infected machines from their network is too costly. Spamhaus names and shames the networks it reports as having the world's worst spam problems. Worst of the lot is verizonbusiness with serverflo.com and sbc.com picking up the second and three places, respectively, in Spamhaus' list of shame.

Spamhaus also uses its spam blocklist database to pick out the countries that have become a "safe haven" for spam operations. As with a similar list compiled by net security firm Sophos, the US and China top the pile. Russia is behind Japan in fourth spot with the UK occupying the seventh berth. ®

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