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Spam comes under attack in British courts (Elementary)

Stuart Millar
Wednesday June 18, 2003
The Guardian

Microsoft has taken the important step of starting two legal actions in Britain against senders of junk email as part of an attempt to stop the spam problem everywhere in the world.

Microsoft stated yesterday that in addition to 15 cases it has begun in the United States, it was bringing two cases against spammers in the UK - Their first attempt to use the courts to fight spam in Europe.

In both cases junk mail senders used so-called dictionary attacks on the company's servers, in which the spammer builds different email addresses with a known domain name, for example joebloggs@msn.com. This idea allows the spammer to get large numbers of "live" email addresses which can be sold on or used for future spam attacks.

In the first case, Microsoft's servers were attacked more than 455,000 times, giving them more than 3m email addresses, of which more than 225,000 were real.

The second case was an attack on both Microsoft and a British organisation fighting against spam. Every wrong address they created sent a message to the organisation in an attack so serious that its email system stopped working for several days.

Microsoft has a special interest in leading the battle against the spammers. Its free email service, Hotmail, suffers more than most from junk mail and it is the company's Windows PCs that are most open to attack by spammers trying to take over computers to send the mail from.

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Adapted by Chris Fry, July 2003 from http://media.guardian.co.uk/newmedia/story/0,7496,979863,00.html MediaGuardian.co.uk Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003