Webcore Labs... harboring spammers

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I got a spam message yesterday that got through my filters. It appeared to be a request to interview me on some radio program; I only needed to pay them $3000 to reserve my 3-minute spot to be played for untold millions of listeners. What a scam.

The email was sent from a mail server sitting behind an Adelphia cable modem. After notifying Adelphia, I hunted down the spammer’s web host, Webcore Labs. Webcore’s terms of service prevent spamming using their email servers, but remain curiously silent on the problem of a spammer promoting a site hosted on their network. I forwarded the spam to Webcore support and was told that they know all about the spammer but won’t do anything about it.

To my initial complaint they responded...

Yes, we are hosting their website but we do not handle email for them. This did not come from our mail servers or our network. I have forwarded them this email but if you wish to submit a spam report, the people to contact would be the network of the IP address of the sending server.

No acknowledgment that the spammer was using their network at all. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I pointed out that their network was hosting a website that was being promoted by spam and expressed surprise that they didn’t have a problem with that.

This time Alen at Webcore Labs responded...

We do have a problem if a client abuses our systems. In this case they are not. In fact they used to host their email with us but due to the same spamming issues, we told them to either find a new email solution or their site would be shut down. So they set up their own email servers at their offices.

Nice. There’s an acknowledgment that their customer is a spammer, but the problem as they see it is an abuse of their resources. Not that spam is wrong. Not that by hosting a spam site they’re contributing to an increase in overall spam. Nope. As long as the problem stays out of their backyard, then everything’s fine. Who cares if they’re harboring a known spammer? As long as they don’t have a strain on their servers, everything’s okay.

If you’re hosting spammers, providing them mail, bandwidth, or any other network services, you’re part of the problem.

dbs
December 14, 2006 1:06 PM

I have to respectifully disagree with your approach. Truly, the position the hosting company is taking is the correct one. The client is not violating their terms of service. They are not sending or receiving spam on the hosting providers network. That they are using spamming as an advertising technique should make no difference to the webhosting company. Extending an individual companies morals into all aspects of a clients business treads on very dangerous moral if not legal grounds. "I will shut your site down because you promoted Ann Coulters book on one of your other sites", etc etc. Yes spam is a global problem. Yes it needs to be dealt with in some logical way. But right now the worse perpetrators are not the clueless businesspeople advertising their sites. They are the organized zombie-net operators that have tripled the spam traffic in the last 9 months with illegal pump-and-dump penny stock schemes and viagra ads. Those should be the targets of your ire, not the legitimate businesses.

Jason Lancaster
December 16, 2006 11:42 AM

dbs: Adam's position is absolutely held by the better majority of webhosting companies. I can tell you from my experience at Affinity Internet, where I had a job specifically dedicated to fighting abuse such as that, that they'd be dropped with the right amount of complains. To get a smaller more lenient company to follow through, you'll have to force their hand by reporting them to NANAE (see google groups) and the like. It takes some time and people reporting, but eventually you should be able to convince any forward-thinking webhost that hosting a spammer is bad. Making an excuse for this and most smaller organizations, they probably don't have the manpower to investigate and track -- and why would they when the spammer is one of their few customers and are supporting a webhost? Regardless, taking the position that they didn't do anything wrong even if the email didn't originate from their networks is just plan WRONG. Would you really want to host someone on the ROKSO list at your company? (See spamhaus). I don't think so...

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