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Blue Security Reborn As Social Action Enabler

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the raining-holy-hellfire dept.

The Internet 29

griswaldo writes "Wired News writes about the re-birth of the ill-fated Blue Security as a social action company. According to the article, founders of the former anti-spam company that made headlines after incurring the wrath of a Russian spam king have set up a company called Collactive that provides tools to organize grassroots action on political and social web sites. The article mentions a global warming initiative called WorldCoolers and, for the Slashdot YRO crowd, the Privacy Alert Network that kicked off by letting people comment on Homeland Security's latest crazy idea."

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29 comments

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Finnaly, I can let the DHS know what I think (2, Informative)

tricksy9 (1041180) | more than 7 years ago | (#17284060)

The DHS, on a mission to turn the US into Communist China, has made it nearly impossible to submit comments to regulations.gov about their "Automated Targeting System". Alas, Collactive works like a charm and submits the comments with a push of a button. Power to people! Try it yourself at http://ws.privacyalertnetwork.net/points/point?id= 444 [privacyalertnetwork.net]

Congratulations! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17284088)

You've just caused several dozen Slashdot mods to cranially self-destruct, after they couldn't figure out whether to mod you -1 Troll or +5 Informative.

Re:Finnaly, I can let the DHS know what I think (1)

dustinator (1041182) | more than 7 years ago | (#17284118)

The regulations.gov site must be the worst website in the history of the world. No, strike that, in the history of the universe!

Re:Finnaly, I can let the DHS know what I think (2, Interesting)

NoTheory (580275) | more than 7 years ago | (#17284510)

Quote from regulations.gov:
Starting in December, randomly selected visitors to Regulations.gov may be asked to complete a short customer satisfaction survey. Your feedback will help us improve the quality of this site for all users. We thank you in advance for your participation.
Customers? We're customers now? Does that mean that i'll be able to demand satisfaction or perhaps my money back?

Power to the people (2, Interesting)

dustinator (1041182) | more than 7 years ago | (#17284094)

Their plans to take so-called Web 2.0 sites and make them easy to use for normal people sound like a good idea. If sites like Digg claim to be aimed at a broad audience and not only at techies, why is it that they are still dominated by Slashdot wannabes?

Maybe this will bring user-generated sites to everyday folk. I can already envision my grandma telling me how many stories she Dugg, and all without even leaving her bridge game!

Re:Power to the people (2, Funny)

nacturation (646836) | more than 7 years ago | (#17284208)

I can already envision my grandma telling me how many stories she Dugg, and all without even leaving her bridge game!
Be careful... pretty soon she'll tell you about this cool link to a funeral home and how she Dugg her own grave.
 

Re:Power to the people (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 7 years ago | (#17284296)

Obligatory.

In Korea only old people use Digg.

Re:Power to the people (1)

NalosLayor (958307) | more than 7 years ago | (#17284330)

How can someone be a "Slashdot wannabe"? /. is free to join and open to all. Clearly they are slashdot don't-wannabes, even if you don't think the site in question is well designed or run.

Re:Power to the people (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 7 years ago | (#17284342)

Actually, I've found out that some of the last people I'd expect to see on the internet use Digg. Like, for instance, the 80+ year old librarian at my university. I couldn't believe it when I saw digg open on her machine, her with two gnarled fingers typing a comment at 3.1415 WPM. I've got to find out what her username is. Is short, Digg's for everyone. /. thankfully is not.

If you can't beat spam, add to it! (5, Insightful)

280Z28 (896335) | more than 7 years ago | (#17284098)

From the article:

"Once it's installed, the organizers can send alerts to users or update the software with scripts that know how to take particular actions, such as automatically filling in feedback forms on a politician's website. End users can also forward e-mail alerts to their friends, who have the option of installing the software themselves and joining the network." ...
"By picking a couple of issues that all Americans agree on, we can really rain holy privacy hellfire," Scannell said.

If you simply define spam as "unwanted commentary," a large, disruptive user base that does nothing but repeat itself could easily be placed in there.

Another problem is this: Dr. Smith disagrees with the movement being "addressed" by the Collactive users and wishes to comment. She/He should be able to offer feedback like anyone else, but if 537 near-duplicate comments fly in while she/he responds, then his/her comment is very likely to be either mass-deleted or simply overlooked.

The point is simply this: political debates should be won by the good arguments, and NOT by drowning the opposing side in a flood of automated replies. From where I'm sitting, this just looks like a hack of a piece of software trying to push a hack of an argument.

Re:If you can't beat spam, add to it! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17284148)

You're wrong about it being automated replies. Take a look at what people sent the DHS [collactive.com] . These are serious, well-thought out comments. These people would have no way of doing this without this tool!

Re:If you can't beat spam, add to it! (2, Informative)

griswald9 (1041044) | more than 7 years ago | (#17284460)

Have you actually seen what people wrote on the DHS issue? Take a look at the comments submitted - it's not automated (well, unless they have a bunch of intelligent monkeys doing the work)

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17284990)

> a large, disruptive user base that does nothing but repeat itself

Yay for /.!

*runs*

Re:If you can't beat spam, add to it! (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#17287708)

I think you are a bit confused.

In many cases, quantity is much more relevant than quality. A general rule of thumb is that for every 1 person who bothers to write & complain, there are ten people who feel the same way, but didn't.

If you want just one example of why this technique is effective, look no further than the effects Christian Conservatives have had on the FCC. Greater than 95% of complaints come from members of just two organizations who employ these carpet bombing techniques.

Government and businesses respond to large volumes of complaints.

Congratulations. (1)

css-hack (1038154) | more than 7 years ago | (#17284102)

I missed Blue Security in the headlines, but what these guys seem to be doing is pretty cool. Providing a way for people to send and receive information about issues they care about isn't really ahead of it's time technology-wise, but is definitely an appropriate and commendable use of technology.

I don't know how much hype comes from the word AJAX being thrown around, but if ever there was a place for it, I say they've found it. A niche, and a productive one at that.

Better luck this time, guys.

Funny story about chasing an idiot spammer? (1)

shanen (462549) | more than 7 years ago | (#17284184)

I've actually been chasing this one spamming idiot around for months. It's really weird in that he's the only spammer that seems to bother that address, and he's a totally small-scale nuisance level spammer. Kind of a throwback to the old days of 10 years ago? He per force switches ISPs, websites, and DNS services continually, sometimes gets bounced out for a few days, but keeps right on coming back for more. It's actually sort of nice to find at least one spammer that stupid.

Of course, the big fear is that he'll get a lightbulb and figure out how to sell his email addresses to a *REAL* spammer.

Collactive? (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 7 years ago | (#17284210)

Are we all destined to become tertiary adjuncts?
 

Re:Collactive? (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298222)

No, some of us will be secondary adjuncts. we however pity those who will become quadaray adjuncts.

A mattter of perspective... (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 7 years ago | (#17284384)


I guess after you get your ass handed to you by a Russian spam king, the DHS isn't all that scary.

can't beat = join (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17284410)

letting armchair activists [...] seed collaborative web forums with sympathetic news items [...] automatically filling in feedback forms [...] forward e-mail alerts to their friends [...] help users through processes like registering and voting on sites like YouTube, or submitting stories to news aggregators like Digg and Reddit

In short: a spamming network. Oh the irony.

Re:can't beat = join (1)

redcane (604255) | more than 7 years ago | (#17297478)

With once crucial difference. Each post/form submission/email alert, requires a user to enter their thoughts, and then select their options for transmission. It just automates the process of sending your comment more than one place. Like a search engine aggregator. This was the one big thing about blue security last time. They gave you a button saying "send SPAM complaint", but each user could only click it once. It just took the time out of writing to all the different spammers, so that a large enough amount of users could.

What about mail server ID? (2, Insightful)

ardor (673957) | more than 7 years ago | (#17284434)

AFAIK, anti-spam methods tried to solve the problem on the email clients.
But what about whitelists for email servers? Maybe something similar to the DNS system, with propagating server lists. So, you register your server with your telco, wait an hour or two, and the thing is propagated. Registration should be free, but a mandatory delay of at least 10 minutes between registration should be there; the telcos are also free to check if somebody is registering tons of servers (maybe a limit would do). This allows emailservers to reject unknown ones along with all their mail, so spammers could no longer setup a room full of machines sending millions of emails a day, and spambots with their own SMTP servers are useless. Furthermore, if some trojan hijacks Outlook accounts for spamming, email servers could (a) introduce an one second delay, thereby limiting the max amount of emails per day while not overly hurting the user, (b) report when a whitelist server suddenly sends heaps of data, and the sending server is obliged to investigate this and warn clients that they are sending too much.

All of this requires no client changes, they are all server side updates.

How do you START it? (1)

JavaRob (28971) | more than 7 years ago | (#17284638)

The problem with so many spam "solutions" is that they're all predicated on the vast majority of server admins in the world all magically agreeing on the solution and implementing it, all at once.

The whitelist solution is useless when 99.9999% of valid email servers are not yet on the whitelist, right? Because if you turned on whitelist filtering you'd just be blocking all mail. So no one will install and activate the filter until the vast majority of valid email senders *are* registered.

Now consider all of those busy admins of the outgoing mail servers. If they don't register to your whitelist, what happens? Nothing, because no one is filtering yet. So if they have to choose between sorting out this registration process (if they even happen to hear about it...) vs. replacing the flaky memory in server "vulcan22", which will they choose?

But we just need one of the big guys to get behind the plan, right? Well, Hotmail or Yahoo can't just turn on filtering either, because even if they saturate the globe with hugely expensive advertising explaining to email admins that they'd better register their servers before filter rollout in 2008, it simply won't happen for many, many servers until something actively *breaks*. And anyone using the podunk.com ISP suddenly finds their emails are rejected by Hotmail (but nowhere else)... so Hotmail customer support gets a flood of help requests, threats, angry emails, etc. etc.

Are you still sure the whitelist idea is good?

Think of online systems in terms of evolution. Every step has to have a good reason, or no matter how attractively you propose it, it cannot survive.

The Blue Security concept actually *worked* partly because it DID involve the end user. People pissed off by spam actually had legal recourse that they *knew* made the spammer's lives a little more difficult. "Sure, you can bulk-advertise with spam, but every spam you send us is going to result in one more complaint clogging up your order forms."

So even when there were only a handful of users (before the spam started dropping), there was a small benefit.

As soon as the userbase grew to 1/2 million or so (a drop in the bucket in terms of internet users, mind you) the benefit became large. My spam dropped to about 4 or 5 a day.

Of course, BlueSecurity's business model was an huge Achilles' heel. They were fairly decisively taken out of the game because of it. They were on the right path, though: counter automated contacts with automated responses. Keep it legal FTW. A small userbase can know they're at least a small thorn in the spammer's side, and a large userbase is a force to be reckoned with.

Work on a distributed system much like the BlueFrog approach started at Okopipi.org [okopipi.org] , but has lost steam. Anyone who wants to stir things up again should stop by and see what they can do.

Re:What about mail server ID? (1)

complete loony (663508) | more than 7 years ago | (#17284948)

Your post advocates a

(x) technical ( ) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
(x) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
(x) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
(x) Users of email will not put up with it
(x) Microsoft will not put up with it
( ) The police will not put up with it
( ) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
(x) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
(x) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

Specifically, your plan fails to account for

( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
(x) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
( ) Open relays in foreign countries
( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
(x) Asshats
( ) Jurisdictional problems
( ) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
(x) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
(x) Extreme profitability of spam
( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
( ) Technically illiterate politicians
( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
(x) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
(x) Outlook

and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

(x) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever
been shown practical
( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
( ) Blacklists suck
(x) Whitelists suck
( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
(x) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
( ) Sending email should be free
(x) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
( ) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
( ) I don't want the government reading my email
( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

(x) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your
house down!

Worldcoolers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17284480)

The worldcoolers thing looks interesting. Something I have always wondered however is why solar powered (or at least augmented) air conditioning is not widespread. I could see it taking off in California for example - imagine the benefits - no contribution to global warning from power hungry mains powered coolers and free to run.

fist proost (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17284624)

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King's Pawn (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17285684)

I guess when Russian mafia politics starts poisoning people with rare nuke byproducts [google.com] , right when Russian mafia politics rolls out new ICBMs [google.com] , and Russian mafia politics steals huge oil/gas operations [google.com] for their favorite clients, smart Russians [slashdot.org] start to work together against their mafia government.

But is it too late for them to do anything but inspire a new generation of gulags?

Takes one to know one (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17286982)

> called Collactive that provides tools to organize
> grassroots action on political and social web sites.

Well, an anti-spam company should know well how to generate spam.

Remember, it's not spam if it benefits you or a cause that's worthy to you.

Re:Takes one to know one (1)

redcane (604255) | more than 7 years ago | (#17297548)

It's also not spam if you are required to hit send once for each message sent. (as opposed to clicking "load email list"->"send" once for >10,000 messages).
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