Author: M.Prince (28 Dec 04 4:23pm)
There are a lot of things we're working on and happy to have help.
We've begun to reach out to both federal and state law enforcement agencies with some of the data we've seen. For example, we've caught a clear pump-and-dump scam that we think the FTC and/or SEC may be interested in. I've worked with some people at the FTC on the legislative side of things, so I'm trying to use those contacts in order to talk to the appropriate investigators. It's going to take some time to build up a relationship with the enforcement agencies and show them that the data we have is both useful and reliable. We've begun that process, but it will take time.
We've also approached some state Attorneys General with whom we have existing relationships. Again, it's tough to find exactly the right target for a state AG (meaning, it probably has to be someone either in the state or known to be targeting the state's citizens), but we keep looking out for one. To that end, the most helpful thing is to get as many honey pots installed as possible.
On the private legal front we've begun speaking with some of our partners about how our data can be useful to go after spammers they've either 1) already targeted in existing legal actions, or 2) shake the tree to get some bigger fish (if you pardon the horribly mixed metaphor). I'm not sure when we'll get a lawsuit based on any of our data, but know that we're exploring that avenue.
On the technical side of things we're working on an additional service for our members that will be something akin to a RBL but for HTTP traffic. We'll allow anyone with an active honey pot to install a gateway to stop known harvester IPs from accessing their pages, or, depending on the settings, limiting the information that they're given if they do (stripping out email addresses, requiring them to pass through a CAPTCHA, etc.). We're going to launch those sometime in the new year, when we have time to put them together. If anyone is interested in helping with either the software authoring or testing of such a service, please let us know through the contact us page of this site.
As soon as our volume of spam picks up we're also going to begin sharing our data with other anti-spam services. For example, we've already agreed to give any spamvertised URLs to the SURBL service. We'd like to share our corpus of data with other open source anti-spam projects in order to help the technical spam community as well. Key to making the resource as valuable as possible is getting as many honey pots installed as we can. We're off to a great start, but probably need at least double the number of installed honey pots before we're reliably capturing a sizable chunk of harvesters and spammers on a virtually real-time basis.
To that end, I'm speaking at the MIT Spam Conference about the Project on Jan. 21st (www.spamconference.org) and then talking to email marketers about the risk of sending to harvested addresses at an ISIPP event on Jan. 27th in San Francisco (www.isipp.org). I encourage anyone interested to attend either! Or, if you're already going to be there, make sure you introduce yourself as a Project Honey Pot member!!
If any of our members are interested in filing lawsuits of their own, we'll be happy to help in any way we can. While we obscure some of the data on our site in terms of when the harvesters visited and when mail was received (in order to make it difficult for a spammer to tell what addresses are honey pots), but can provide that to you with more precision if it can help any legal case.
We've talked internally about trying to work with law firms in order to form a class action against harvesters. I don't think we have sufficient data to do that yet, but it might be something we try to organize on our own at some point in the future. If anyone knows a plaintiffs' attorney who would be interested in such a case, we'd be happy to talk with them.
Unfortunately, the legal process is often plodding. While the data we have it great, we will need a lot more before we're going to be able to use it to really make a difference. Of course, with every honey pot installed we get closer to that goal!
Thanks for your support! Let us know if you have any more ideas on ways we can help.