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Lycos Europe's antispam tool no longer available

The firm says the screensaver, which targets spammers' Web sites, has just been too popular and promises it will be back.

Security
After days of negative publicity and criticism, Lycos Europe's "Make love not spam" screensaver application is no longer available. The company says it's just been too popular and promises it will be back.

Visitors to the Web site are presented with a graphic urging them to "stay tuned." Previously, Web surfers could download the screensaver from the site. The application uses the idle processing power of users' computers to slow down bandwidth that connects to spammers' Web sites.

A Lycos Europe representative said that the screensaver has been temporarily pulled while the company deals with hosting and management issues. He said it had been downloaded by over 100,000 users and added it was "too early to say" when it would be made available again.

Lycos Europe is a separate company from the Web portal that bears the Lycos name in the United States. Lycos Europe claims that it maintains roughly 40 million e-mail accounts in eight European countries.

Lycos Europe has been heavily criticized for the "Make love not spam" initiative, with experts accusing the company of acting irresponsibly.

"You can't break into a thief's house just because he breaks into yours. We don't support this or recommend this practice. Directing traffic is part of the degradation of the Internet we are trying to stop," said Steve Linford, director of Spamhaus, a nonprofit antispam organization.

On Thursday, Netcraft, an Internet traffic monitoring company, said that Lycos Europe had successfully taken down two Web sites hosted in China. Lycos Europe, however, has said that it is not carrying out denial-of-service attacks, just slowing the bandwidth of its targets. The company has also said that it has no intention of taking Web sites offline.

Lycos Europe's tactics apparently may have rebounded on the company. According to security company F-Secure, one of the Web sites the company targeted in its zombie army attack--www.mortgage.info--redirected traffic back to www.makelovenotspam.com. This means that Lycos Europe could have unintentionally affected its own Web site.

Some Internet service providers appear to have taken matters into their own hands and blocked access to the site.

Graeme Wearden of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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