Spammers don’t Lycos

Lycos’ vigilante website “Make Love Not Spam,” appears to have run aground. The site, an attempt to flood known spamming sites with requests, is experiencing operating problems.

Heavily criticised in some quarters "Make Love Not Spam" is a screensaver that generates traffic to known spammer sites with the intention of increasing the cost of hosting them. But spammers have hit back.

Reports from anti-virus group F-Secure indicate that mortgage loan site has redirected traffic back to the Lycos server.

And the bad news doesn't end there. Lycos' attempt to control traffic and prevent an outright denial of service (DoS) attack, look to be failing. A Netcraft report, published by the BBC, suggested that two of the sites attacked by the screensaver have been "completely knocked offline".

"You need to look a different jurisdictions but there's a risk of legal action here," said Mark Smith, a solicitor specialising in IT at legal firm Olswang. "I don't know if anything will actually happen but consumers are potentially implicated in this." Depending on how the software works, Smith argued, the owner of each computer involved in the attack could be open to some sort of charge.

The affair appears to be turning into a PR disaster. Although we were able to speak to Lycos when "Make Love Not Spam" was released, we could not reach the company today. "I wouldn't have advised this move," Smith said. "And I wouldn't want the screen saver on my machine."

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