Lycos have released a screensaver that will flood the urls used by spammers to sell their wares. Effectively what Lycos are setting up here is an opt-in Distributed Denial of Service attack (or DDoS for short), also known as a Tribe Attack.
The hope is that by sending so much data to servers being used by spammers it will either use up their data transfer allowance and shut their site, force them to buy more bandwidth or alert the server administrators and kick them off the server.
Whilst I think the idea is great (and funny) on paper, in practice there are a number of issues with it:
- It is against the T&C’s of many ISP’s to use their service to make useless requests to webservers in a way that could constitute a webserver attack/DoS attack
- Many spammers use servers which they don’t own/administrate to act as forwarders to their real site. This will just kick those innocent “forwarding” sites and not touch the real spammers
- Lycos say that running the screensaver all day would produce about 4MB of data transfer = up to 124MB a month. That’s quite a lot, especially if you have one of those 1Gig capped services
But apart from that, I’m just really surprised that a commercial company like Lycos is behind this. I can see this being produced by the community and passed around as an “underground thing”. The nature of the way this screensaver it working by DDoS’ing sites is pretty unethical, especially for a commercial company to be backing.
I’ll be interested to see how this goes down in the server administration community.