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03 May 2006

Spam defense or video game? Email

The blogosphere is abuzz with stories about an allegedly titanic battle between Blue Security and some spammers. Blue Security, as you probably know, distributes a freeware program called Blue Frog that is supposed to crush spammers by hammering on their web sites with gazillions of opt out requests or something like that. For a variety of reasons, the mainstream anti-spam community has never thought much of this approach, but every criticism only leads Blue Frog's partisans to leap ever more forcefully to its defense. (See, for example, the comments on my note about them last year, and the comments that will doubtless be posted on this message, too.) This latest round made me realize that Blue Frog makes perfect sense if you think of it as a video game, or perhaps a fashion accessory, rather than as an anti-spam tool.

The world is full of anti-spam tools. Lots of people use Spamassassin, or the surprisingly effective adaptive filters in Thunderbird or Eudora, way more than use Blue Frog, and their users like them just fine, but none of them have bands of partisans shouting down their critics. The point of Blue Frog is not to deal with spam, but to deal with users' feeling that they are powerless against the onslaught of the spammers. No more passive filtering to hide from the spammers--the Frog sends out powerful blasts of anti-spam juju directly from your computer. Bam! Pow! Take that, spammers!

So a few days ago when some dimwitted spammers rose to the bait and counterattacked, it was the best thing that Blue Frog could have asked for. The spammers took the rather obvious approach of running some lists through Blue Security's do-not-spam list, compared the before and after lists to see what Blue Security removed, and then started to send threatening mail to the removed addresses telling the Blue Security usrs that they better back off or else. They are apparently also using zombie computers to flood Blue Security's web server, so it's been impossible to reach for most of the last few days.

Qutes from a spammer bulletin board posted at Anne Mitchell's Internet Patrol blog are almost too good to be true.

One comment quoted from a spammers: Word through the underground is pretty solid right now. Bluesecurity is going to be hit with forces they will not be able to handle. We will see.

Then someone calling himself "True Blue", apparently working for Blue Security added his own note to rally the troops: It remains to be seen whether this will harden the resolve of Blue Security members. First indications are that they are not at all fazed, and have been ready for this for some time. ... The battle has begun. May 2, 2006. (Cue suitable music, preferably a John Williams knockoff of Gustav Holst.)

Read the whole set of quotes, which is quite amusing, if you want. On both sides, it's all is about vigilante warfare, choice of tactics, steadfastness in the face of danger, standing stalwart and facing the foe. It doesn't have seemed to occur to anyone to do what a normal person would do, start collecting forensic evidence and call the cops. But of course, in a video game, you don't do that, you just watch your screen and try to shoot your opponents faster than they shoot you. Who cares if there's really any less spam, we're at war, we're on the march, and we feel great!

  posted at: 00:30 :: permanent link to this entry :: 23 comments
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It turns out you don’t need a license to hunt for spam.
112 days ago

A keen grasp of the obvious
Italian Apple Cake
670 days ago

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