Spam is silenced, but where are the feds?

The FTC's HerbalKing operation grabbed a lot of headlines; the McColo takedown cut spam

On October 14, the US Federal Trade Commission, with help from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and New Zealand police, announced that it had shut down a vast international spam network known as HerbalKing.

It was a triumphant moment for the FTC, which said that the group had been linked to as much as a third of the junk e-mail on the Internet. In an interview with The New York Times, FTC Commissioner Jon Leibowitz was modest in his appraisal of the situation. "They were sending extraordinary amounts of spam," he said. "We are hoping at some level that this will help make a small dent in the amount of spam coming into consumers' in-boxes."

The FTC's HerbalKing operation grabbed a lot of headlines, but it didn't do much to reduce the amount of spam on the Internet, researchers say. Within a week, spam was as big of a problem as ever.

Instead, it took another operation, two weeks later, against the ISP (Internet service provider) McColo in California to really reduce the amount of spam. But although McColo appears to have been a playground for Internet criminals, no federal agency, not the FTC, not the FBI, not the Secret Service or the Department of Justice, was involved in shutting it down.

With McColo, Internet researchers and Washington Post reporter Brian Krebs essentially shamed ISPs Global Crossing and Hurricane Electric into dropping service for McColo, whose network had been associated with a range of illegal activity from hacked botnet computers to spam and even child pornography.

Unlike HerbalKing, the results after McColo's takedown were dramatic. About half of the spam on the Internet disappeared.

Cisco Systems' IronPort division says that though there have been some brief spikes in activity, spam is still down significantly from where it was prior to the McColo takedown. McColo could not be reached for comment on this story.

But two weeks after McColo was dropped by its network providers, the company's data center remains untouched. That frustrates some security researchers who say that the servers used to control these operations could provide a treasure trove of evidence about cybercriminals.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags spamcan-spam act

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

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Cate Bacon

Aruba Instant On AP11D

The strength of the Aruba Instant On AP11D is that the design and feature set support the modern, flexible, and mobile way of working.

Dr Prabigya Shiwakoti

Aruba Instant On AP11D

Aruba backs the AP11D up with a two-year warranty and 24/7 phone support.

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?