Lycos Europe has axed the distribution of a controversial screensaver designed to target websites that profit from spam, claiming that the company has made its point.
The Make Love Not Spam website no longer offers the screensaver for download, and Lycos Europe said that any attacks on websites will now have stopped.
The screensaver, launched last week, used spare computing time to send HTTP requests to sites identified as belonging to spammers.
The plan was to take up 95 per cent of the bandwidth for such sites, reducing them to a crawl but not inflicting any real damage. Over 100,000 copies of the screensaver were downloaded.
But critics of the plan were not slow to point out some obvious flaws. Analyst firm Gartner was scathing in a report on the software, and welcomed its withdrawal.
"Gartner believes that Lycos' original idea was a bad one, and that Lycos has done the right thing by ending the programme," it said.
"Companies can fight spammers in more effective ways. Legal action is commonplace. For example, on 2 December Microsoft filed seven lawsuits against alleged spammers under the US Can-Spam Act for failing to label sexually explicit messages."
Lycos Europe's plan backfired when a Trojan emerged disguised as the screensaver which went on to monitor users' keystrokes.
Security firm F-Secure has already found the Trojan being distributed by email, and warned users not to open the attachment. It is called 'Lycos screensaver to fight spam.zip'.
"The file inside the attachment is not the famous Lycos 'Make Love Not Spam' screensaver," warned Katrin Tocheva at F-Secure's Laboratory.
"Instead it is a RAR SFX archive that has an embedded key-logger inside. Lycos has been notified of the incident."
Lycos Europe has claimed that the Trojan was specifically designed by spammers to deter people from using the screensaver.
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