Feeds

Spamford Wallace's MySpace riches come under attack

The FTC's quest for spam stopping balls

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Wallgotten Gains

It's been more than a decade since Wallace first unleashed his torrent of spam on the internet. After facing private lawsuits from AOL and CompuServe and Earthlink, he ultimately agreed to stop spamming and disband his Cyber Promotions outfit. Then, taking the low road, he embraced the more lucrative field of spyware and adware, and so far, no amount of lawsuits or enforcement actions has been able to stop him.

Ben Edelman, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School who studies online advertising fraud, says the FTC is constrained by federal statutes that prevent the agency from seeking criminal penalties or punitive fines. That leaves enforcers largely defanged because they can only go after ill-gotten proceeds.

"There's been a history of inadequate monetary judgments against spyware purveyors and other anti-consumer advertising cases," he said.

But Edelman holds out the possibility that this time Wallace may finally be stopped. Even if the FTC can't seek the kind of harsh penalties necessary to prevent people from getting into the spyware business, there's nothing stopping the agency from sharing its evidence against Wallace and others with the public. That, in turn, could aid lawyers representing private clients who aren't prevented from seeking, and winning, massive punitive fees that could bankrupt the defendants.

Last March MySpace sued Wallace, and four months later the company obtained a preliminary injunction that banished him from the social networking site.

It will be worth watching this latest action by the FTC to see if enforcers really have learned anything new. As things stand now, Wallace is an inspiration for countless aspiring cons throughout the world. The lesson: with a little experience writing code and enough determination, you can make a lot of money gumming up people's PCs, and there's little anyone can do about it.

A half million dollars is a decent chunk of change for six months' work. Until public enforcers and private attorneys figure out a way to remove these handsome rewards, the malware scourge is only going to get worse. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
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?