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FTC Looking For “SPAM”icide Against Zombies

John Stith
Staff Writer
Published: 2005-05-25

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) got a little help from its friends in attempts to fight the proliferation of spam. The Operation Spam Zombie program plans to wipe the undead … er un-Internet menace out of the computing world. Much like an epidemic disease, spam mail runs rampant through computers all over the world and cuts down on the efficiency of the Internet by leaps and bounds.

Some people receive thousands of emails a day, which in turn not only creates huge levels of traffic and slows the transfer of legitimate email but it also reduces the productivity of companies and employees who wade the junk to see if anything is valid. It compromises security issues and as more and more stories come out about people holding companies hostage with things like emails to crash websites and the like, spam protection becomes as essential as having an armed guard doing rounds in the warehouse. Operation Spam Zombie should be that security guard.

The FTC has enlisted the aid of 25 countries and is working on ISPs to help stop this worldwide problem. They are aiming at zombie networks as a target. Zombie networks are pcs that have been turned into spamming monsters, unknown to the owner. Hackers will bounce this spam through the networks so people have no clue this even goes on. Experts figure well over half the spam out there comes from these networks.

"Computers around the globe have been hijacked to send unwanted e-mail," said Lydia Parnes, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "With our international partners, we're urging Internet Service Providers worldwide to step up their efforts to protect computer users from costly, annoying, and intrusive spam ‘zombies.'"

The FTC is urging service providers to monitor spam and quarantine folks who seem to have large numbers of the stuff floating out. Twenty members of the London Action Plan, an international network combating spam, and 16 additional government agencies who will participate in Operation Spam Zombies will send letters to more than 3,000 ISPs around the world, urging them to employ protective measures to prevent their customers' computers from being hijacked by spammers. The measures include:

· blocking a common Internet port used for e-mail when possible;

· applying rate-limiting controls for e-mail relays;

· identifying computers that are sending atypical amounts of e-mail and take steps to determine if the computer is acting as a spam zombie. When necessary, quarantine the affected computer until the source of the problem is removed;

· providing plain-language information for customers on how to keep their home computers secure; and

· providing or pointing their customers to easy-to-use tools to remove zombie code if their computers become infected.

This is in addition to the legislation currently running through Congress. It looks like the FTV will be flying into the Internet business with full force.

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About the Author:
John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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