For immediate release - June 2004
Spam - Fighting Back
Spammers get a taste of their own medicine
Article by Warren
Spam. The practice of sending unsolicited junk email is every internet user and system administrator's nightmare. An
estimated 40% of all email sent worldwide is considered to be Spam with some countries receiving higher percentages
A group of programmers based in the US and Europe are sick of receiving large quantities of spam daily and have
combined forces to collectively attack the problem head-on.
The result of this ambitious project is a free software package entitled "SpamItBack".
SpamItBack (www.spamitback.com) is a unique concept which is designed
to tackle the problem at its source rather than attempting to filter or remove spam once it has already been delivered
to a mail server. As the saying goes; "Prevention is better than the cure"
The software is simplistic in design but somewhat complex operationally. Basically, the SpamItBack software functions
by sending email messages to private spammer email boxes, online order forms and also HTTP requests to weblogs
requesting that they cease sending spam. Users running the software are repeatedly sending requests to spammers listed
on the software's database. The more people using the software, the more messages requesting individual spammers to
stop spamming are received. In effect the spammer is being flooded with messages which renders the ordering and
contact forms on their websites useless. The spammer usually ends up shutting down the domain and ceases sending spam
related to the respective website that they are trying to entice people to visit and buy their advertised
The spammer database is strictly controlled by the SpamItBack team and users are able to download updates each time
they use the software. To be effective, it is recommended that the software be run for an hour or more each day by
each user. The more people using the software the more effective it becomes. Further information on how SpamItBack
works is available later in this article.
In a private interview, James, who is the impetus behind the original SpamItBack project said, "It is often difficult
for authorities to track and successfully prosecute spammers due to jurisdictional restrictions particularly when
spammers operate from offshore locations."
"We (the SpamItBack Team) believe that a more proactive approach is necessary that directly addresses the problem by
making it increasingly difficult for spammers to operate."
James also said, "We began to see results within a few weeks of releasing the software with numerous domains and known
spammer email addresses being shutdown after being flooded with messages by people using the software. The spammer's
website log files also increase dramatically in size and can effectively shutdown the site from within depending on
the number of requests sent. A number of the larger spam operations own in the vicinity of a thousand domain names. It
is simply a matter of targeting each series of domains with the SpamItBack software and in a very short time those
domains becomes impossible to use for spamming activities."
Even though millions of dollars are spent by authorities worldwide each year in a bid to combat spam, it is still an
ever increasing problem. Statistical information provided by Brightmail (see www.brightmail.com/spamstats.html) shows
that the percentage of spam related email filtered by Brightmail has jumped from 49% in June 2003 to 64% in May 2004.
Brightmail filtered over 100 billion email messages in May 2004. This 15% increase in the last twelve months clearly
demonstrates that the efforts of authorities are having little impact on the spam problem. Further statistical data
available from, www.spamfilterreview.com, estimates that of the average 31 billion daily emails sent in 2003, a total
of 12.4 billion were spam. This equals an approximate total of a whopping 4,500 billion spam messages sent to internet
users and corporations in 2003.
When asked if SpamItBack is contributing to an increase the amount of Junk email cluttering the internet, James said,
"we recognise that not everyone will agree with the methodology of what we are trying to achieve. It must however, be
made very clear that the software is not sending out spam. "Spam", as it is currently defined is a - 'commercial
solicitation' with the spammer usually sending out thousands or millions of emails every day to individuals.
Responding to a spammer, telling them not to spam you, is not. The software is only sending messages to a selected
group of individuals and companies that are confirmed spammers asking that they stop spamming. In actual fact, by
rendering major spammer domains ineffective we are reducing the quantity of junk email being sent each day. Obviously
in the past, a lot of people told spammers not to spam them, hence the reason spammers now resort to subterfuge, not
providing any means of contacting the spammer. This software allows the individual receiving spam to once again tell
the spammer to stop spamming. The majority of negativity towards SpamItBack stems from a misunderstanding of what the
software does and how it operates."
How it all works.
The software operates with three tiers of defence against spammers. Firstly, the spammers known email addresses are
targeted. Secondly the software automatically fills out online forms on spammer websites and thirdly it appends items
to any log files on the spammers host server, if activated.
The software is fully automated. Once a user activates the package, the software commences sending messages to those
spammers contained within its database.
A built in SMTP-server is included which means that the software connects directly with the spammers host web server
as opposed to delivering mail via the users own ISP.
Messages are sent with randomly generated return address and source information, thus providing the necessary security
for the user and making them untraceable by the spammer.
The spammer database is managed under the strict control of the SpamItBack team. The only email addresses or domain
details that are added to the database are those that are indeed from spammers. A strict selection criteria and
controls process is adhered to at all times prior to a spammer being added. A number of clearly defined identification
tasks are performed to confirm the status of a spammer and the information cross checked against several
internationally recognised spammer databases before a spammer is finally added to the SpamItBack database.
Another unique feature of the software is the integration of a scoring system designed to encourage users to run
SpamItBack on a regular basis. Each time the user runs the software, points are accumulated for each message sent
which can then be uploaded to an online scoreboard at the SpamItBack website. It was interesting to note the battle
that was raging for top placing's on the scoreboard. This feature provides a fun element to the software and
encourages user participation.
The SpamItBack Team's actual locations and contact details are confidential for obvious security reasons. They can be
contacted via the contact form provided on the SpamItBack website at www.spamitback.com.
According to "The Register of Known Spam Operations", Rokso database which is maintained by "The Spamhaus Project"
www.spamhaus.org, approximately 200 known spam operations are responsible for 90% of the spam that is delivered every
The ROKSO database collates information and evidence on known hard-line spam operations that have been terminated by a
minimum of 3 consecutive Service Providers for serious spam offenses. The team at SpamItBack are concentrating their
efforts on targeting these major players in an effort to hamper their activities and reduce the quantity of spam being
distributed and to ultimately stop their spamming operations.
The SpamItBack software package is freeware and can be downloaded at
(C) 2004 www.spamitback.com,
Patent Pending, All Rights Reserved.