FTC Launches International Anti-Spam Campaign

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched a new international anti-spam campaign this week by sending “tens of thousands” of letters to businesses and organizations urging them to close open relays and proxies on their servers.

Known as “Operation Secure Your Server,” the effort involves more than 35 agencies in 26 countries.

Open relays and open proxies are servers that allow any computer in the world to bounce or route e-mail through them, disguising the real origin of the e-mail. Spammers often abuse these servers to flood the Internet with unwanted e-mail. The abuses not only overload servers, but also can damage an unwitting business’ reputation if it appears that the business with the open relay or open proxy sent the spam.

“International cooperation is going to play an important role in combating spam, as this project clearly demonstrates,” said Howard Beales, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Government cannot solve the spam problem on its own; everyone with an Internet connection must do their part to make sure that they are part of the solution and not part of the problem.”

Don Blumenthal, the FTC’s Internet Lab coordinator, told
internetnews.com the agency has so far identified more than a million IP addresses with open relays or proxies.

The new effort follows on the heels of last year’s campaign against open relays, when the FTC and participating national and international agencies identified businesses with potential open relays, urged them to close the relays and sent information on how to do so.

“This is a much more ambitious project than last year when we only sent out about 2,000 letters,” Blumenthal said.

The FTC has created a Web page that contains information for businesses on how to protect themselves from becoming unwitting distributors of spam. In addition to the agencies’ letter, which is available in 21 languages, the site contains business education and links to other resources.

Along with the FTC, agencies in Albania, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, Hungary, Jamaica, Japan, Lithuania, Norway, Panama, Peru, Romania, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom are participating in the initiative.

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