The Old-Fashioned Way to Fight Spam: With Vax

By Spencer F. Katt  |  Posted 2002-05-20

Some weeks, El Gatos e-mail seems to be evenly split between spam and letters complaining about spam. A Katt crony recently laughed with the Lynx about perhaps the most ludicrous spam ever—unsolicited, multiple mailings offering recipients a secret way to "Stop Spam Now!"

The Katt has also noticed that much of the spam hes receiving is often only a test relay. According to Brad Spencer, a spam-fighting friend of the Feline, who operates a spam-intercepting honey pot, many spammers know that the delivery of the test indicates an open relay and will typically follow a successful test with actual spam.

Brad told the Kitty that spammers seem to particularly flood foreign relays and said one of his brothers-in-arms runs a honey pot in Moscow that stopped spam for more than 4 million recipients in two months. Amusingly, Brad said most of the folks fighting spam in the trenches are using fairly old equipment to intercept and block spam relays, noting his own honey pot setup: an almost-decade-old Vaxstation 4000/90. You can find a link to Brads advice on operating a honey pot at

Mail Abuse Prevention System is an organization known for having to defend itself in legal battles started by companies it has labeled as spammers and placed on what the organization calls its Realtime Blackhole List. So, the Furball was very curious after hearing that MAPS recently filed a lawsuit against a former employee.

According to a site detailing the case,, a guy named Gordon Fecyk hooked up with the MAPS folks in the late 90s, bringing with him his own dial-up-based, anti-spam method. According to the site, at some point before he was hired as a MAPS employee, Fecyk was told that if he and MAPS ever parted ways, he would be allowed to buy back the rights to his dial-up user list for $10. When the day came that Fecyk and MAPS parted ways, the site claims that MAPS reneged on the deal and in the ensuing intellectual property battle, MAPS took action against Feyck.

Citing Fecyks privacy, MAPS legal director, Anne Mitchell, wouldnt comment on the case. Mitchell did say that the lawsuit Web site is run by a third party named Nick Nicholas, who is not privy to many facts surrounding the case, and that many of the sites statements are inaccurate. "Although, I am sure not intentionally so," said the savvy legal eagle.

Rocket Fuel