Feeds

Anti-spammer fined $60K for DNS lookup 'hack'

Whois also ruled dodgy by North Dakota court

Security for virtualized datacentres

David Ritz, the veteran American spam-fighter, has been hit by $60,000 in fines plus lawyers fees after losing a civil suit that accused him of illegal hacking.

Sierra Corporate Design, a North Dakota business run by alleged former spammer Jerry Reynolds, sued Ritz for hacking and trespass offences. Ritz was accused of conducting unauthorized whois and DNS lookups. Edward Falk, another anti-spam campaigner and operator of the "Spam Tracking Page", was named as co-defendant.

The complaint alleged that Ritz "hacked" servers owned by Sierra (which describes itself as a specialist web hosting and internet services firm), obtaining confidential internal network configuration data (using a zone transfer, host -l command) and domain name information (using whois) before publishing that data on the net. It was alleged that Falk assisted Ritz by republishing his findings. The case was originally filed in May 2005. An injunction, which allowed Sierra's lawyers to ask Google to purge its Usenet archives of "offending material" was issued in August 2005.

In October 2006, the North Dakota court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction over Falk, a Californian resident, dismissing the suit against him. The case against Ritz proceeded.

Hearings in Fargo last October before Judge Cynthia Rothe-Seeger resulted in a surprise 11 January ruling (PDF, transcript with commentary) against Ritz. He was ordered to pay $53,000 in damages, a $10,000 fine for contempt against breaching an injunction and lawyers' fees, which could run into tens of thousands.

It's unclear if Ritz intends to appeal. His problems don't stop there because he faces possible criminal prosecution over the same supposed offences.

The case has sparked concern and support from the anti-spam community. "He [Ritz] got prosecuted for using the same Unix tools that the rest of us use all the time to troubleshoot problems, admin our systems, and track spammers," notes Reg reader Mark.

Supporters are urged to donate to a legal defense fund, set up to defend anti-spam activists against so-called SLAPP lawsuits (getting sued for speaking out on a matter of public concern).

In a separate case Reynolds sued Falk unsuccessfully for defamation for calling him a porn spammer.

Falk had accused Reynolds of involvement with Netzilla, for a time the single largest source of spam on Usenet. The published allegations led to the unsuccessful "John Doe" lawsuit against Falk in Reynolds' home town of Fargo, ND.

More background on the history of legal antagonism between Falk and Reynolds can be found at Falk's site here and elsewhere. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
NASTY SSL 3.0 vuln to be revealed soon – sources (Update: It's POODLE)
So nasty no one's even whispering until patch is out
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
FBI boss: We don't want a backdoor, we want the front door to phones
Claims it's what the Founding Fathers would have wanted – catching killers and pedos
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.