, SecurityFocus 2006-05-17
Story continued from Page 3
The online battle between PharmaMaster and Blue Security had already had a number of casualties: Internet services, consumer users and the company itself.
The spammer, seeing the success of the attacks, apparently decided that more threatening attacks could win the war. Specifically, PharmaMaster used Blue Security's own tactic against it: The spammer went for the money.
Blue Security built its business model around providing free service for consumers--whose greater number of computers could launch a meaningful attack against spammers--but requiring businesses to pay to protect entire domains.
In a significant shift in the attacks, PharmaMaster began targeting the paying customers, according to sources familiar with the attacks. People at the companies supposedly protected by the Blue Frog system, instead found their systems in greater danger. The spammer hit their networks with denial-of-service attacks and sent e-mail messages laced with computer viruses to their addresses.
For the Israeli company, the attack trumped any of its defenses.
"Blue Security realized that they weren't helping their customers by continuing the fight with the spammers," said Keith Laslop, vice president of business development for Prolexic, the company hired to protect Blue Security's service. "So they have decided to exit the anti-spam business."
The anti-spam company said that it does not blame anyone but the spammer for the turn of events. So far, no lawsuits have been filed by Blue Security or against the company, CEO Reshef said. On Wednesday, the main Web page for the company, bluesecurity.com, could not be accessed by SecurityFocus.
Prolexic itself came under attack soon after taking Blue Security on as a client, according to the company.
"Prolexic Technologies, has been fending malicious cyber attacks from one or more criminal spammers attempting to intimidate the firm, subsequent to Prolexic deploying its system to defend a recent customer," the company stated on its Web site. "These attacks have included a barrage of defamatory spam emails about Prolexic, multi-gigabit DDoS attacks, and mail bombs."
Six Apart, the only other U.S. company substantially affected by the attacks, is currently working with the FBI on an investigation, but the U.S. law enforcement agency would not comment on the investigation.
To advisory board member Swire, the incident represents that the safety of the Internet is only a thin veneer, and that true threats to businesses, like this one, only get lip service from the Bush Administration.
"This shows how vulnerable the Internet infrastructure really is," Swire said. "I'm concerned that cybersecurity has been downgraded in the U.S. government from a White House issue to an issue that gets relatively little support in the Department of Homeland Security."
The outcome of the episode left a bad taste in the mouths of even some critics of Blue Security's service.
"I find the closure of their business very sad," said ISIPP's Mitchell. "I would rather they had tightened up their system and made it legal, than have it closed down."
CORRECTION: The article originally cited the wrong title for Keith Laslop of Prolexic Technologies. He is the vice president of business development. In addition, the article was update with the statement regarding attacks against Prolexic.