Lycos Pulls Antispam Screensaver

Lycos Europe appeared to have pulled a controversial antispam screensaver program from its site last week, after coming under fire from both security experts and the spammers themselves.

The Web site previously distributed the "Make Love Not Spam" screensaver, which offers to turn the tables on spammers by overwhelming their Web sites with requests, no longer offers the program and now carries the message "Stay Tuned."

Lycos Europe also removed prominent advertisements for the screensaver from its home page.

Not all Internet users can access the "Stay Tuned" message, however, as some Internet service providers blocked the site, says Paul Mutton, Internet services developer with Internet hosting services company Netcraft. Users on parts of the Internet backbone served by these ISPs get an error message when trying to reach the site.

Under Fire

Lycos Europe drew criticism from some members of the security community over the screensaver, saying that the company is engaging in vigilantism and crossing the line by launching what are essentially DDOS (distributed DOS) attacks on spammers' sites.

The Web portal responded that it does not intend to bring the sites down, but simply to cripple them.

But some ISPs blocked access to the Make Love Not Spam site, supposedly because the screensaver generates a lot of unnecessary traffic on their networks, or violates their rules on DDOS attacks, Mutton says.

Some spammers also reportedly took action against Lycos Europe by redirecting traffic from the screensaver back to the site that distributes the program.

Lycos Europe representatives weren't immediately available to comment.

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