Spamhaus to Dutch ISP: Show Me Yours and I’ll Show You MineWritten by Malcolm James on October 18, 2011
Anti-spam watchdog The Spamhaus Project is back at it again, providing prime fodder for anyone who appreciates a good brawl. This time, the guardian of all things spam challenges a Dutch ISP to a measure-off, and it looks like the locker room is going to clear out for this one, folks.
Ah, Spamhaus. For anyone with a well-honed sense of humor and irony (and I’m one of them), your 2011 has been a year worthy of a Monty Python sketch, or at least a stint on The Office (the real one, not the spate of so-so spinoffs). If you haven’t been keeping up with the venerable Spamhaus Project, here’s what’s happened so far: a not-for-profit venture based in the U.K. and founded by Steve Linford in 1998, The Spamhaus Project is responsible for identifying and blacklisting spammers, a noble venture to say the least. They made news earlier this year when a five-year long battle with the now defunct e360 Insights, LLC came to an unceremonious if not hilarious close. e360, which filed suit against Spamhaus back in 2006 for defamation to the tune of $130 million, was awarded three U.S. dollars. And they say that bad things don’t happen to bad people (in case that’s unclear, the bad people are e360).
Not Safe for Work?
Not to be outdone, however, Spamhaus has followed up with what appears to be a pending measure-off in the locker room. In a virtual sense, parents, you may want to usher your children out of the room for this one. Spamhaus routinely provides anti-spam DNS blocklists, or DNSBLs, which are widely used by ISPs – almost three-quarters of the Internet, according to Spamhaus – to reduce the amount of spam channeled through their email systems.
What’s in a Name?
Recently, the organization put in for a request to block all the traffic of a German ISP called Cyberbunker, more infamously known as CB3ROB. If you haven’t heard about CB3ROB, here’s a little taste. The ISP is best known for providing services for The Pirate Bay, which has been making news of its own recently.
CB3ROB, by Spamhaus’ accounting, “has long [been] seen involved in hosting cybercrime and spam outfits”. In fact, states Spamhaus, “If the name sounds familiar, it is: CB3ROB A/K/A ‘CyberBunker’ has a long history of run-ins with the law. It was also a host of the infamous “Russian Business Network” cyber-crime gang broken up by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.”
Spamhaus also notes that their SBL (Spamhaus Block List) listings of CB3ROB have been:
“mounting steadily during 2011 for hosting malware, phishing and websites selling fraudulent goods advertised via spam.”
All in all, the type of pond scum we all know and despise, so no worries, right? Block away, Spamhaus!
But Wait…There’s More!
While there’s nothing unusual about Spamhaus’ treatment of CB3ROB, the real fun begins when a new player enters the arena – in this instance, a small Dutch ISP, A2B Internet. How are they involved, you ask? Well, simply put, cyberscum CB3ROB actually has a few server racks with one of A2B’s partners. Recognizing this, Spamhaus made several attempts to notify A2B, but apparently received no response. According to The Register:
“A2B, as an upstream provider, refused to block the full IP range of Cyberbunker and decided to block only one particular IP address that Spamhaus had identified as a source of spam.”
Not one to be shunned or ignored, Spamhaus decided to include the full range of A2B’s IP addresses in its block list. Not surprisingly, A2B was none too pleased about it, particularly when several of its clients’ services went dark. In fact, according to The Register, A2B Managing Director Erik Bais reported that some of A2B’s clients, “were practically offline as a result and couldn’t send or receive email.”
What’s a Poor ISP to do? Why, Call the Cops, of Course
Desperate, perhaps, A2B responded by filing a complaint with Dutch police, claiming that they were being “blackmailed,” according to The Register. In fact, if your curiosity hasn’t already gotten the best of you, you can go ahead and read Spamhaus’ humorous accounting of the incident, where Spamhaus reports that A2B also accused Spamhaus of “extortion” and “carrying out a ‘DoS attack’ on [A2B’s] network.”
So? Whose is Bigger?
This one’s just beginning, folks, so for now we’ll let you ponder the issues purported by both sides. Please chime in. Has Spamhaus overstepped its boundaries? Is A2B correct in its claims, or is it just clutching at straws? Or is this just another lame episode of “When Male Egos Attack?”
Weigh in and lay your bets before the real measure-off begins.