Send Spam, Get Paid, Get Banned

Sendmails Corp are a marketing firm that know that people will do anything for money – and that includes allowing their PCs to be used to send spam. The New Hampshire-based company is offering US$5 (€4.22) to internet users who download and install their VirtualMDA (Mail Delivery Agent) client, followed by US$1 for every hour of CPU time the agent uses sending out bulk emails to “customers”.

Despite fact that most net users complain bitterly about the unstoppable rise in unsolicited emails, anti-spam groups fear that plain old human greed will prompt people to sign up for the service, and spam will just get worse.

There is, of course another problem here. Sending spam isn’t SETI@home – it doesn’t take massive amounts of CPU cycles to even huge amounts of mail. Sendmail don’t really want your processor time – what they’re really after is your IP (internet protocol) address.

Companies who make a habit of making huge bulk mailings tend to get their IP address blocked by ISP’s mail servers. Internet service providers know who the key culprits are and block or at least heavily filter all mail coming from their domains. Users of VirtualMDA will be sending spam from their own IP address – and that’s not going to make your DSL provider very happy. They’ll ban you, and your email address may well get blocked by several mail providers.

Of course, Sendmail and their customers don’t care about this as plenty more people will sign up and take the US$1.

Wired on the service

Computer not as busy as it could be? Sign up for SETI and get us all killed

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?