Google comes in third on top 10 list of spam enablers

sistemnet.com.tr, hostfresh.com and google.com take top three positions in ‘The 10 Worst Spam Service ISPs’.

Google has yet to stop a rising number of spammers from abusing Google Docs, its Web-based collaboration and spreadsheet application, according to junk mail watchdog Spamhaus.

On Tuesday, Google moved from fourth to third on a list of spammy ISPs (Internet service providers) and other Web services providers updated daily by Spamhaus. Google has been in the top 10 list over the last several weeks, said Richard Cox, Spamhaus' CIO.

Like peers Microsoft and Yahoo, Google's free e-mail accounts are frequently used to send spam. Antispam filtering software is unlikely to block messages coming from the domains of those companies due to their wide use, although spam can be stopped through more sophisticated analysis of an e-mail.

But a greater problem is how spammers are manipulating Google Docs, Cox said. The application has a feature where users can share a document that is assigned a URL (uniform resource locator). If opened, those documents contain a "redirect" command that pushes them to spammer Web sites, which often sell pharmaceuticals, Cox said.

Spamhaus has had trouble getting top-level attention from Google about the problem, Cox said. That's in contrast to Microsoft, which took steps recently to stop spammers from putting redirects on free Web pages and sending out the links as spam.

A top Microsoft executive finally took note of the problem after being alerted by Spamhaus, Cox said. Microsoft hasn't detailed how it is stopping the nuisance, but their method appears to be working, Cox said. Spamhaus has had less luck so far with Google, he said.

When contacted, Google did acknowledge the problem.

"Spam is an issue for all Internet users, and we actively work to disable accounts that are found to be in violation of our product policies," Google said in a statement. "We're aware of this Google Docs spam issue, and we've already begun implementing improvements to minimize the impact of the issue."

There are a couple of fixes. One would be to simply halt the use of redirects, Cox said.

"We don't see why when Google and Microsoft hand out free Web pages to people they should then allow those people to put a redirect to another site," Cox said. "The only people using redirects are the spammers."

Another method would be to check the URL to which a redirector points. If it is listed on Spamhaus' Block List (SBL) of verified spam operations, the message could be blocked, Cox said.

Services such as Tiny URL, which make long URLs shorter, block those URLs that redirect to sites on the SBL and thus don't have the problem, Cox said.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags spamSpamhaus

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?