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1/6/2009
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Google Ranked Third Worst Spam Provider

The problem Google, along with every other online service provider, faces is that online services that can be abused will be abused.

Google has been ranked the third worst spam service provider by Spamhaus, a nonprofit organization that tracks spam operations.

Spamhaus' current Top 10 Worse Spam Service ISP list includes a few other familiar names: 1) sistemnet.com.tr; 2) hostfresh.com; 3) google.com; 4) vsnlinternational.com; 5) gilat.net; 6) cnuninet.com; 7) uatelecom.co.ua; 8) sprint.net; 9) verizon.com; 10) simplenet.com.

The anti-spam organization says that while all networks claim to be against spam, some look the other way to sell services to spammers and others choose not to close holes in their systems because doing so would be expensive.

"The majority of the world's service providers succeed in keeping spammers off their networks and work to maintain a positive anti-spam reputation, but their work is undermined daily by the few networks [that], out of corporate greed or mismanagement, choose to be part of the problem," Spamhaus explains on its Web site.

McColo, a recently defunct San Jose, Calif.-based Web hosting company, represents an organization that was once part of the problem. When Hurricane Electric cut off McColo's Internet service in November, spam volume on the Internet was cut in half.

As Spamhaus describes the situation, companies on its spam list are complicit by design, by parsimony, or by incompetence.

But Google doesn't really fit any of those descriptions. It has a capable anti-spam team and has been active in trying to keep spammers off of its services. It continues to invest in security and recognizes the need to close holes that are discovered. And it has policies designed to limit the abuse of its services by spammers and to encourage community policing.

The problem Google, along with every other online service provider, faces is that online services that can be abused will be abused. And usually it's the spammers and criminals who figure out how to abuse services before anyone else. Many of the infractions cited by Spamhaus, for example, involve Google services like Google Docs that are used to redirect visitors to malicious sites.

Google typically closes such holes, sooner or later. In fact, the company says that it has been in touch with Spamhaus and has been taking steps to remedy the issues raised by the organization.

"Spam is an issue for all Internet users, and we actively work to disable accounts that are found to be in violation of our product policies," a Google spokesperson said via e-mail. "As such, the relevant accounts indicated in this report have already been disabled."

And if creating new Google accounts weren't free and easy, that might be the end of it.

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