Inbox Insider: FTC shuts down rogue ISP, but the battle continues

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The fight on global spam is an ongoing battle. Last week, a district court judge shut down a rogue Internet Service Provider after the Federal Trade Comission recommended its closure for allegedly hosting the distribution of spam, child pornography and other harmful electronic content.

According to the FTC, “the defendant, Pricewert LLC, which does business under a variety of names including 3FN and APS Telecom, actively recruits and colludes with criminals seeking to distribute illegal, malicious, and harmful electronic content including child pornography, spyware, viruses, trojan horses, phishing, botnet command and control servers, and pornography featuring violence, bestiality and incest. The FTC alleges that the defendant advertised its services in the darkest corners of the Internet, including a forum established to facilitate communication between criminals.”

The FTC is also alleging that the defendant sent botnets, spam e-mails sent from networks of unsuspecting computers in which “botnet herder” computers trigger spam messages to be sent from to the “zombie computers.”

In the filings, the FTC alleges that more than 4,500 malicious software programs are controlled by command-and-control servers hosted by 3FN. The FTC has charged that “the defendants' distribution of illegal, malicious, and harmful content and deployment of botnets that compromised thousands of computers caused substantial consumer injury and was an unfair practice, in violation of federal law.”

The court issued a temporary restraining order to prohibit Pricewert's illegal activities and will hold a preliminary injunction hearing on June 15.

While this closure has shown a drop in some global spam levels, one of the challenges of shutting down these networks is that spammers will just look for another location to host their illegal e-mail. According to MessagesSystems' May report, spam represents 90% of e-mail, it will be interesting to see if this crackdown will have a large impact on global spam levels or if they will just be shifting to new locations.

According to Symantec, spammers have new ways of creating phishing attacks through social networks. Though it generally begins in a malicious e-mail, malware that has been opened can embed into a victims' account on a trusted Web site such as Twitter and Facebook.

While the FTC's victory in getting 3FN shut down is a win for legitimate marketers, they have a lot more work set out ahead of them.


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