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Major Spam Hub Shut Down

A California Web hosting company that was a major source of spam (as well as a host of child porn, and seller of counterfeit pharmaceuticals and designer goods) has been effectively shut down -- but only after numerous security firms and the Washington Post reported on its activities. The slow process has some Internet security folks claiming that U.S. Internet security laws and law-enforcement agencies are either moving too slow or basically toothless.

The majority of the world's spam, as junk email is known, originated or was controlled by servers at Web hosting firm McColo Corp., based in a sleek, modern 30-story office tower in San Jose. After the two companies that provided McColo with its Internet capacity were shown just how much criminal activity was pumping through the servers, the companies took quick action to shut down McColo's operation.

One of McColo's activities was controlling botnets, essentially computer programs that illegally use remote computers like yours, ours, and everyone else's to send out spam. One of the botnets controlled by McColo sent out up to half a billion spam messages a day with the common messages for penis enlargement pills or other designer drugs. According to Marshal, a security company in the United Kingdom, the botnet activity was responsible for almost 75-percent of the world's junk mail.

But some in the Internet security business say McColo has been a known spam offender for a long time -- and they don't know why it has taken so long for action. A Web server that was remotely operated by a computer at McColo was responsible for stealing more than half a million bank, debit and credit card numbers during the last two-and-a-half years. (See more about a similar item here.)

"There is damning evidence that this activity has been going on there for way too long, and plenty of people in the security community have gone out of their way to raise awareness about this network, but nobody (in law enforcement) seems to care," said Paul Ferguson, a threat researcher with computer security firm Trend Micro. [From: The Washington Post]

Tags: botnets, malware, spam