Make Love Not Spam, regardless of it’s poorly-punctuated name, is an antispam effort lead by Lycos Europe. Users who download the screensaver allow their unused processor time to go toward flooding the websites advertised in spam e-mail. Sounds good, but there are two catches, and they are both significant. First, what is flooding?
Flooding is a long-standing technique of crackers, those cyberterrorists that seek to shut down a selected website or Internet service provider by sending millions of requests for webpages in a short period of time, and then keeping up the attack. Websites are designed to handle a specific and anticipated level of requests, and every website can be effectively brought offline, if the frequency of requests is sufficiently high.
Lycos Europe will maintain a database of spammers and this list will be fed to Make Love Not Spam screensaver users. By maintaining a central repository of spammers’ websites, it’s possible to easily and quickly target the most egregious spammers.
There are two catches to this program. One, it’s possible to inadvertently associate an innocent website as a home to spammers, and this can easily be done by a cyberterrorists sending false artificial spam with the intention of misdirecting Lycos Europe’s staff into including the named site in the antispam database.
The second catch is that this program puts the cost of chasing down spammers onto the backs of users, Internet Service Providers (ISP), and the telecommunications industry. Flooding costs money to ISPs and telcos because is requires substantial bandwidth.
As much as I rail against spamming, this flooding program isn’t the way to stop it. Rather than downloading this screensaver, stop buying from spammers and strongly encourage your friends and family to stop buying from them, too. Poison spammers at the trough, and don’t pass the cost onto the innocent.
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Make Love Not Spam