What is being described as one the biggest spam operations was taken offline today and security firms are saying there has been a drastic drop in spam. The hosting outfit was located in San Jose, CA in a downtown office building. Cyber crooks offered spam hosting around the world. According to a Washington Post article it states that:
Officials from McColo did not respond to multiple e-mails, phone calls and instant messages left at the contact points listed on the company’s Web site. It’s not clear what, if anything, U.S. law enforcement is doing about McColo’s alleged involvement in the delivery of spam. An FBI spokesman declined to offer a comment for this story. The U.S. Secret Service could not be immediately reached for comment.
Also unclear is the extent to which McColo could be held legally responsible for the activities of the clients for whom it provides hosting services. There is no evidence that McColo has been charged with any crime, and these activities may not violate the law.
Mark Rasch, a former cyber crime prosecutor for the Justice Department and managing director of FTI Consulting in Washington, D.C. said Web hosting providers are generally not liable for illegal activity carried out on their networks, except in cases involving copyright violations and child pornography.
In the case of child pornography, providers may be held criminally liable if they know about but do nothing to eliminate such content from their servers. For example, in 2001, BuffNET, a large regional service provider in Buffalo, N .Y., pleaded guilty to knowingly providing access to child pornography because the company failed to remove offending Web pages after being alerted to the material.
Rasch said liability in such cases generally hinges on whether the hosting provider is aware of or reasonably should have been aware of the infringing content.
“It’s a little bit like a landlord who owns a building and sees people coming in and out of the apartment complex constantly at all hours and not suspecting their may be drug activity going on , “Rasch said.” There are certain things that raise red flags, such as the nature, volume, source and destination of the Internet traffic, that can and should raise red flags. And to have so many third parties looking at the volume and content from this Internet provider saying ‘This is outrageous,’ clearly the people doing the hosting should know that as well.”
This is good news for all of us who hate getting spam and fight it daily in our in box. It is also good news that law enforcement was able to track down the source of the illegal activity and were able to close down the operation. Hopefully they will be able to prosecute the hosting company as well.