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Internet

Cyber Promotions under siege

The most well-known spammer on the Net, Sanford Wallace, has his servers hacked Sunday, leaving his Web site inaccessible and deleting many internal files and email.

The most well-known spammer on the Net, Cyber Promotions, is under siege.

The bulk email company's servers were hacked Sunday, leaving its Web site inaccessible, and many internal files and email were erased as of today.

The hack is not an isolated incident, according to Cyber Promotions president Sanford "Spamford" Wallace, who said he has pointed the FBI to at least one suspect: a person who posted an online offer of $1,000 to anyone who could shut down Cyber Promotions for at least a week.

"Somebody posted one of our password files to the newsgroup 'news.admin.net-abuse.email' last week," Wallace said today. "They were calling up our customers in the middle of the night and terrorizing them. The same hacker went back into our system this weekend and erased many of our files."

The bulk emailer's site was back up at 11 a.m. PT; most of its internal system will be back up by the end of the day, Wallace noted. The erased files included customer orders and email accounts, he added, but didn't stop spam from going out.

"One thing they did not interfere with is our actual ability to send email. Our Cyber Bomber is operational," Wallace said.

A status update on Cyber Promotions' Web site stated the following: "Autoresponders will be restored within a few hours. Cyber Bomber will be completely functional within a few hours. Web page accounts and virtual pop box accounts will have to be set up again. We will open up the phone lines tomorrow."

Peter Cumming, one person Cyber Promotions has fingered as a possible suspect, has contacted an attorney in case the company takes any action against him based on today's allegations. Cumming said today he has received 523 "harassing" emails since the spammer accused him on its Web site of being involved in the hack.

"Am I glad the site went down? Yes," Cumming said today. "But I had no involvement whatsoever in bringing the site down."

As the company uploads its backup files, some spam haters were rejoicing about the hack on the "net-abuse.email" newsgroup. Others charged that Cyber Promotions staged both hacks.

"If the hack was real, then I can sum up my sympathies for this company and the others that refuse to leave people alone, even after they repeatedly ask to be left alone. In two words: 'Oh well,'" stated a post.

But some spam foes were against illegal acts to stop unsolicited email. "The point is this: It does not matter who posts what in the way of hacked passwords--those machines are not ours, they are his. We do not have the right, legally or morally, to behave as they do."

Cyber Promotions left a recorded message for customers today informing them of the "hack" and contends that both attacks are not media stunts.

"We didn't stage this whole thing. If we did, we would have put up a press release," Wallace said. "It is not in our best interest to upset 11,000 customers."