Screensaver tackles spam websites


A new screensaver by Internet portal Lycos is designed to fight spam by running up the costs of operating Web sites that sell goods commonly advertised in spam e-mail. Rather than targeting the e-mails themselves or their sources, which are often spoofed, the new tactic focuses on the Web sites where spam directs consumers. Using blacklists--from organizations such as Spamcop--of companies that profit from spam, the screensaver sends repeated requests to those companies' Web sites for information about their products. The goal, according to officials at Lycos, is not to overload the sites to the point of failure but to drive up the costs for companies to respond to so many hits on their Web sites. The screensaver also has been shown to slow traffic on some targeted sites by as much as 85 percent. The hope, according to Malte Pollmann of Lycos Europe, is that there will be a general decline in the amount of spam sent if the vendors who benefit from spam are forced to pay much higher costs to maintain their Web sites. The screensaver, which can be downloaded beginning in December, is available to all users, regardless of whether they are registered users of Lycos.

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