[ISN] Black Frog hops into spam battle

From: InfoSec News (isn@private)
Date: Fri May 26 2006 - 02:02:59 PDT


By Greg Sandoval
CNET News.com
May 25, 2006

The open-source project aims to replace Blue Frog's opt-out email
campaign designed to crash spammers' servers

Spammers beware -- avenging amphibians are once again rising against
First there was Blue Frog, a community antispam effort that stopped
operating last week after Blue Security, the company that started the
project, came under a withering denial-of-service attack.

Out of the ashes comes Black Frog, part of a project that is
apparently willing to become a flag bearer in the fight against spam.  
The project, dubbed Okopipi, is developing the Black Frog antispam
software and service as an open-source project, according to the
group's wiki.

"This project aims to become a distributed replacement of antispam
software Blue Frog," the Okopipi wiki states.

Blue Security waged a sort of do-it-yourself spamming campaign against
the spammers. It said that more than 500,000 customers downloaded its
Blue Frog software, which automatically sent replies back to mass
emails. If all of these customers' systems responded, the spammers'
systems would be overwhelmed.

But the Web sites of Blue Security and some of the company's partners
were knocked out last month by a massive distributed denial-of-service
(DDoS) attack. In such an attack, scores of computers try continuously
to log on to Web sites in an effort to overtax the servers.

Okopipi's battle plan is to avoid depending on a centralised server,
creating a target too big to be taken out by a single DDoS attack.

"It will be based on a P2P network (the frognet)," according to a
posting on the wiki. "On failure to connect it could still opt out
given email addresses."

Participants will send reports of spam emails to Okopipi, which will
use "handlers", including dedicated servers, to analyse it. To avoid
suffering the same fate as Blue Security, Okopipi's staff will not
disclose information about its servers.

"Only the Okopipi administrators will know their locations," the group
said on its wiki. This should make a DDoS attack "very difficult", it

The Okopipi wiki said the Black Frog software will set participants'
systems to automatically click the "opt-out" or "unsubscribe" links
contained within spam -- sending a response to the mailers. The
software is still being developed.

Richi Jennings, an analyst at security research company Ferris, said
any attempts by Okopipi to duplicate Blue Security's strategy of
fighting fire with fire are misguided.

"The project should also take care not to cross the line from
legitimate spam complaints to attacking spammers using DDoS-like
techniques," Jennings wrote on a posting to Ferris's Web site.


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