March 20, 1997 1:15 PM PST

Spammer suffers hack attack

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Score one for the antispammers.

Hackers today broke into Cyber Promotions' system, altered a Web page for a few minutes, stole a password file, and then posted it to Usenet newsgroups for the world to see.

Netizens have been gunning for spammers since the junk email version of spam was invented, and Cyber Promotions, headed by Sanford Wallace, has become enemy No. 1. While many go after Wallace through the courts and legislative bodies, others have resorted to illegal tactics such as harassing phone calls, mail bombs, and system cracks.

In this case, the person who posted the password file said he or she was taking revenge on Wallace on behalf of all the antispamming Netizens out there.

"Nobody else was fighting back much. So I decided to kick them and their clients in the balls," wrote the poster, who admittedly was using a a forged email account.

"The following is a copy of Cyber Promotions' password file," he wrote. "After that is an extended dossier of who REALLY owns nancynet/sallynet (not Gladys Crocker, that's for sure). I hope they are useful."

But Wallace said the hack won't do anyone a whole lot of good. The list, which also contains names and phone numbers of Cyber Promotions' clients, was a copy of the password file on a Unix machine with encoded passwords. "Those passwords won't get you in," he said.

Along with the password file, hackers this morning altered the Cyber Promotions' Web page, Wallace said. The altered Web page was up for about 20 minutes this morning before he changed it back.

The actions may or may not be related. But that's irrelevant to Wallace, who has repeatedly sworn to fight back against his enemies.

"It woke me up," Wallace said. "I'm going to get that Hypocrite software up a week before I planned." The software, designed for spammers, automatically redirects email complaining to advertisers about their spam to the emailer's postmaster. The result, Wallace hopes, will be a kind of tit for tat, where flamers get in trouble with their Internet service providers just as antispammers have gotten spammers in trouble with theirs.

He said the program filters mail for certain keywords, such as obscenities, and it also filters for anyone who sends more than five pieces of mail in an hour.

Wallace, who has come under greater attack since he announced the launch of an ISP built especially for spammers, has repeatedly said the only thing that will come between him and his junk mail is long arm of the law itself. Until what he does is illegal, he'll keep on doing it and do everything he can to help others do it. This is about principle based on the bottom line: money.

Wallace makes no bones about it. Spamming, he says, is a very lucrative business.

Bill Blaesing, the owner of the The Gourmet Coffee Club, one of Cyber Promotions' clients, hasn't made a dime using junk mail. But he hopes to in the future and won't let antispammers stand in his way.

Blaesing was one of the businesses that showed up on the password file. Every time he or one of his distributors sends out unsolicited email, his company gets inundated with abusive phone calls, email, and system break-ins, he said.

"We've got people breaking into our corporate home site and putting vulgarities all over the place," Blaesing said. "I mean, we're talking about coffee here."

But if antispammers think they're going to harass him out of the business, they're mistaken, Blaesing said. "I've spent 25 years in the military and I've never seen such nastiness."

Others, he added, may be deterred, but he won't be. "I'm sure there are a lot of people who say it's just not worth the bother and trouble. I won't give into them."

 

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