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01 May 2007, 12:55

Landmark Anti-Spam Court Case Filed

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Project Honey Pot, a spam monitoring network first launched in October 2004 by Utah-based software and services company Unspam, has filed a $1 billion class action law suit in Virginia USA against un-named "John Doe" spammers. It targets the yet anonymous persons who operate the bots that crawl the web to collect email adresses and post link spam in forums.

The groundwork for this action is a very large database of spammer activity collected by the company, the content of which will be used to identify actual defendants by subpoena of ISP records. While the gathering of such data is not a unique activity, Internet Anti-Spam Research group chairman John Levine has pointed out that the unusual forensic quality of the Project Honey Pot data gives confidence of success in the upcoming proceedings.

Until now, the the company has relied on webmasters installing dedicated monitoring software on the servers they manage. However, as of last week this has changed with the launch of the QuickLinks programme. Apparently those who register for an account with the spam fighters will be given a link that can be concealed on any web page, and accesses to the link will be tracked to identify bots controlled by spammers. This will extent the scope of data gathering to include a much wider community of contributors.

Project Honey Pot has also announced new web-based IP address block monitoring service. Registered users can select from a variety of address blocks, including up to five arbitrary IP addresses. These will thereafter be monitored by the project, which will generate daily web-based reports for IP address owners on malicious use of their registered addresses.

A third offering (currently in beta testing), http:BL is a DNS-based spam management utility for Apache 2.0 that allows webmasters to set up rules for web traffic control (as opposed to conventional DNSBL, that controls mail traffic) in an attempt to prevent spammers gaining initial access to resources they might be able to abuse. The utility is said to make use of the Project Honey Pot intelligence base to maintain local blacklists.

These services are apparently free of charge to registered users at the moment, but the terms and conditions of use include transfer of rights in all captured data to the Utah-based company, which is probably necessary for the data to be advanced as evidence in legal actions.


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