FBI: More spam prosecutions on the way

The FBI has 70 active investigations into spam-related crimes, and the Internet community can expect many more prosecutions from spam and botnet activities in the coming months.  Those were the two main messages delivered today by the FBI at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's Spam Summit in Washington, D.C. The summit featured Microsoft's talking about how to  deter spammers and other criminals, while reducing spam loads. Yahoo, IBM, AOL, and Cisco also took part in the summit.  According to an IDG News Service report, U.S. Department of Justice representatives said it  is targeting several spam-related activities.  The most public so far has been Operation Bot Roast, a joint FBI, DOJ initiative targeting criminals who use networks of compromised computers, often called botnets, to send spam and launch distributed denial-of-service attacks. The DOJ and FBI said last month ongoing investigations have identified over 1 million botnet crime victims.   In addition to targeting "bot herders," criminals who control botnets, the DOJ will begin targeting "bot brokers," the people who negotiate the sale of botnet resources. "We're going to start pegging them with some criminal liability. There is a lot of money getting exchanged here," A DOJ executive said.   The DOJ has been the center of one spamming effort itself. Last month it warned US citizens about fraudulent spam e-mail messages claiming to be from DOJ. Based upon complaints from the public, the DOJ says the fraudulent messages are addressed "Dear Citizen." "The messages are believed to assert that the recipients or their businesses have been the subject of complaints filed with DOJ and also forwarded to the Internal Revenue Service.  The goal of the spamming was to place  trojans on people's computers.   The DOJ and other federal agencies are also targeting stock-scheme spam campaigns, she said. In a typical "pump and dump" stock scheme, spammers buy cheap stocks, then send out huge volumes of spam telling recipients that the stock price is poised to rise. The stock price goes up because of the spam campaign, and the spammers sell their stock at a large profit.  On Tuesday, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed securities fraud charges against two Texas men for an alleged pump-and-dump scheme. The scheme allegedly cost investors $4.6 million, according to the IDG story.  A couple new antispam technologies were also hot topics at the summit. One DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), is a combination of  several existing antiphishing and antispam methods to create an improved way to sort and identify legitimate e-mail. Instead of using a traditional IP address to identify the sender of each message, DKIM adds a digital signature associated with the organization's domain name. The proposed standard has backing from Yahoo, Cisco Systems, Sendmail and PGP Corporation.      

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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