Phishing, Hunting, And Living With Spam - InformationWeek
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06:25 PM
John Soat
John Soat

Phishing, Hunting, And Living With Spam

HOW SPAM IS LIKE THE WEATHER--OR NOT. To reference a famous Mark Twainism, spam is like the weather--everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything about it. Except that may be changing. State-level prosecutions of spammers last week may indicate an increase in the effectiveness of legal remedies. First, a Florida circuit court judge slapped an injunction on two local spam operators as part of the state's first legal action under Florida's 9-month-old anti-spam law. The injunction was the result of a lawsuit by Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist, with help from Microsoft. Under Florida law, the defendants face penalties of up to $500 for each of the more than 65,000 unsolicited E-mail messages they're accused of sending, a total potential penalty of $24 million. Also last week, a federal judge in San Francisco ordered two Los Angeles residents to stop operations of their spamming companies, Optin Global Inc. and Vision Media Limited Corp., then froze the firms' assets. The Federal Trade Commission and California's attorney general, Bill Lockyer, together had filed a 13-count lawsuit against the spammers, who they said violated both the federal 15-month-old Can-Spam Act and California's recently revised anti-spam statute. According to the FTC, the more than 1.8 million spam messages they sent in the last year included links to Web sites run by the defendants that hawked everything from mortgage services and car warranties to prescription drugs and college degrees.

HOW SPAM IS LIKE THE WEATHER, PART 2. E-mail users, both at home and at work, say they receive slightly more spam in their in-boxes than a year ago, but they mind it less, according to a survey of 1,400 Internet users conducted in January by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. More than half of the respondents (53%) say spam has made them less trusting of E-mail, but that's down from 62% a year ago. And 22% say spam has reduced their overall use of E-mail, but that's down from 29% a year ago. On the bright side, almost a third say they're getting less porn spam than they did a year ago. On the other hand, 35% of respondents say they have received "phishing" spam, and 2% say they responded by providing information.

GOOD TECHNOLOGY, BAD LUCK. Tsunami Research, a company that develops and markets an interesting gridlike software application layer it calls "hive computing," had a problem after the devastating wave hit Indonesia in December. "The first question out of people's mouths [was], when are you going to change the name?" a spokesman says. The answer: this week. Now called Appistry, the company is touting the latest version of its product (Appistry Enterprise Application Framework 2.3) and a brand-name user, Sprint.

A NEW INTERNET GAME. Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., introduced legislation last week to ban the practice of Internet hunting, which allows a "virtual" hunter, through a Web interface, to control a gun and a camera mounted on a platform in a private hunting area and fire at prey with a click of the mouse. Federal legislation is needed, Davis said, because of the interstate and international nature of these hunts.

Gives the expression "shooting ducks in a barrel" a whole new meaning. How about a whole new industry tip? Send it to or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about Internet phishing or Internet hunting, meet me at's Listening Post:

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit John Soat's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about John Soat, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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