Big Spam Distributor Shut Down... For Now

The Spam Man Can, and Does!

Enhance your lovemaking now! Just blow your allergies away! Connect with local sexy singles! Be your own boss! Don’t let debt slow you down! She likes it beefy and you should too! Sound familiar? It should, as subject lines like these invade consumer inboxes by the millions every day. But for now - or at least for the next few days - that may change, resulting in access to e-mails that don’t require censoring or a filter thanks to the termination of one web hosting service company: the McColo Corporation.

Although it may seem like a good time to fire up the barbecue pit and break out the karaoke machine, the small victory won against the evil gangs responsible for most of the junk e-mail flooding inboxes doesn’t mean that the battle is won. In fact, experts say that the evildoers are like cockroaches, and that they will find a new place to dig in and spread their nasty disease. However, until that time comes, and it will come soon like a bad rash that just won’t go away, Internet users should enjoy the short-lived holiday gift while they can.

According to this article by the Associate Press, the holiday season is the busiest time of the year for spammers, and the hustlers who originally used McColo Corp to distribute the spam is now looking for other means to access infected PCs. Many mainstream consumers have no idea how spam works, only gripe and moan when a huge load fills their inbox. Most spam comes from networks of infected computers worldwide, PCs owned by consumers who have no idea their computers are sending out tons of junk e-mail every day. Spammers require remote access to these computers and a hosting service such as McColo Corp that is willing to "look the other way" when the commands are being transmitted to those infected PCs.

Unfortunately, for spammers, McColo Corp seemed to be the choke point for the entire spamming industry. According to IronPort, a security firm owned by Cisco Systems Inc., worldwide spam volume actually dropped from 153 billion e-mail messages to 64 billion messages when McColo’s main Internet connections were terminated on November 11. The Washington Post also reports that McColo Corp was under surveillance over the last four months as Security Fix gathered data to shut the web hosting service down.

“We looked into it a bit, saw the size and scope of the problem [Security Fix was] reporting and said ‘Holy cow! Within the hour we had terminated all of our connections to them,” stated Benny Ng of Hurricane Electric after Security Fix contacted the Internet provider on Monday. Global Crossing, another one of McColo’s major Internet providers, said Tuesday afternoon that it would cooperate fully with law enforcement.

Although a temporary setback, the Internet connection terminations didn’t stop McColo from getting back online. The Associated Press reports that the company sweet-talked a Swedish Internet provider for new connection, launching back online on Sunday. However, after security researches contacted the Internet provider, McColo once again found itself back offline. Currently clicking on the company’s website results in a page load error, and apparently McColo officials are not responding to e-mails, phone calls, instant messaging, or promises to enlarge "that special muscle."

But again, the victory was only brief. IronPort reports that spam volume is climbing once again, and had reached an estimated 71 billion messages on Monday. Is that surprising? Certainly not. If it weren’t for spam, companies like Symantec and McAfee wouldn’t make money from anti-spam software. It’s a business, and conspiracy theorists may agree that the two are interlinked somehow. Should security researchers turn their watchful eye on anti-spam software developers? Perhaps. But for now, companies like McColo should be tracked down and forced to eat Spam by the bucketfuls.

Still, while McColo may be down for the count, the junk e-mail roaches are still out there, infesting dark corners, crawling, breeding and infecting more and more victims every day. The junk e-mail disease we call "spam" will never go away until these groups are exterminated. Period.

Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then, he’s loved all things PC-related and cool gadgets ranging from the New Nintendo 3DS to Android tablets. He is currently a contributor at Digital Trends, writing about everything from computers to how-to content on Windows and Macs to reviews of the latest laptops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and more.