spam enabling hosts proliferate

Bulletproof hosting, a hosting method that many individuals and groups have exploited to register domain names for the purpose of spamming and online attacks, has become a rampant problem, according to a report by IDG News Services.

Though some bulletproof hosting services are used for legitimate purposes, many of these services are used to spread spam and malware.

The service is relatively inexpensive, with $700 being able to buy individuals the use of a server in China, which they can then use to send an unlimited amount of spam.

Even cheaper is bulletproof domain-name registration, as bulletproof domains can be registered for $100.

In a three-month period this year, a research group at the University of Alabama at Birmingham found more than 22,300 domains devoted to sending online pharmaceutical spam, housed at six bulletproof servers hosted in China.

There are a few bulletproof hosting services located around the world, however, the majority of them operate in China, says Gary Warner, director of research in computer forensics at the university.

Warner adds that even countries that tend to have a more liberal stance on spam, such as Russia, use bulletproof hosting because they are so reliable.

Rather than cover up their spamming purposes, many bulletproof hosts blatantly promote their services as being spam-friendly.

One provider, Tecom, appeals to prospective users of its Bullet-Proof Web Hosting services by stating that customers "won't have to worry about being shut down because of spam complaints."

Though most registrars will remove a domain when security researchers report that the domain is being used for spamming or malware distribution purposes, bulletproof domain registrars will ignore such take-down requests.

Fortunately, China has started to toughen its cybercrime laws with the recent arrests of some alleged identity thieves.

Warner hopes this signals that the country will eventually go after bulletproof hosts.

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