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Internet

Programmer writes spam bomb

Ron Guilmette is a self-appointed soldier in the battle against spam. Now he thinks he's developed the ultimate weapon.

    Ron Guilmette is a self-appointed soldier in the battle against spam. Now he thinks he's developed the ultimate weapon.

    "It's a war," said Guilmette, a software engineer who has been working on an antispam program DeadBolt through E-Scrub Technologies. "What I've been trying to do is devise the equivalent of a nuclear weapon for our side and we've just done it."

    E-Scrub works by filtering out domain names of known spammers and constantly updating the lists dynamically to the computers of whatever individuals or Internet service providers sign up for it.

    Of course, Guilmette is not the first person to come up with an antispam program. In fact, this program is very similar to America Online's PreferredMail filter on its proprietary service. But there aren't many out there who have made the development of such software so personal. He just might be one of most dedicated Netizens when it comes to getting rid of junk email.

    How dedicated? Just do a search on DejaNews and you'll see just how obsessed. Since June 18, he's posted 798 messages to "news.admin.net-abuse.email," 531 to "news.admin.net-abuse.misc," and 83 to "comp.mail.misc." The subject on most of those postings? Spam.

    Guilmette and a cadre of other spam haters have taken it upon themselves to hunt down spammers and do the virtual equivalent of running them out of town. They see a piece of junk email, trace it back to its source, then tell the Internet service provider that one of its members is violating antispam rules.

    "I did it for a long time," he said. "I did it for months and months. I used to call ISPs, hassle them, and get them to nuke the accounts of spammers. We have the power but it takes a lot of time to track down the right ISP, to get through to the right person on the phone. It's expensive in time and long distance phone charges. You have to keep doing it for each spammer. It's too labor intensive."

    However, the next best thing, he added, is his program. Of course.