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December 9, 2005

The Blue Frog has new teeth

frog with teeth.jpgIn my discussions with spammers, I am surprised to learn that many have not heard about the Blue Frog anti-spam service from start-up Blue Security.

The service generated a lot of publicity at its launch last July, with some respected anti-spammers accusing Blue Frog of fostering vigilante action against junk emailers or "spamming the spammers." (Others have responded that the system is perfectly ethical and legal.)

The controversy was over Blue Frog's active deterrence feature. In a nutshell, Blue Frog tries to get bulk emailers to stop spamming its 50,000-plus members by posting opt-out requests in web forms at web sites advertised by spam. The goal is to encourage spammers to use the Blue Frog remove lists, while empowering Blue Frog members.

Blue Security insists the "eye for an eye" approach has been very successful, and some members report significant reductions in spam. But the company nonetheless has decided to up the ante.

Since last September, Blue Frog isn't just filing complaints directly to spammers. The service has also begun compiling and submitting reports to entities including the Federal Trade Commission, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and even the FBI and Interpol. The service is also alerting Internet service providers who host the websites advertised in spams received by Blue Frog members.

Is this move an admission by Blue Security that its controversial "active deterrence" strategy was a bust -- and that spammers were ignoring the opt-out complaints?

Eran Aloni, Blue Security's director of marketing, insists that the service's goal is unchanged: to convince spammers not to spam people who don't want it and are willing to actively fight it.

Aloni says that the new reports have forced the recent shutdown of several Brazil-based websites used by a mortgage spammer. The service also has had some success getting Yahoo and Lycos to pull the plug on spammers' sites. (Sample reports are posted on the Blue Frog Blog.)

"This is the first time any anti-spam solution succeeded in reducing spam levels by persuading spammers to stop sending it rather than filtering spam after it arrives to the user," Aloni recently told me via email.

Posted by brian at December 9, 2005 3:29 PM


Blue Security recently hired an unusually clueless PR firm in Israel to flog the frog, but they neglected to give their new flacks a list of people who they'd contacted in the past (just about everyone in the anti-spam biz) and what the results were (not pretty). I went about three rounds of e-mail before I got bored and suggested he take a look at my blog.

It's pretty clear to me that the only people Blue Security are trying to impress are the VCs who for some reason keep funding them, to delay as long as possible the moment when the VCs wise up and pull the plug.

Posted by: John L at December 17, 2005 3:03 AM

Tripod is Lycos, not Yahoo.

Posted by: J.D. at December 19, 2005 3:10 PM

JD, thanks. I've corrected that error.

Posted by: Brian at December 19, 2005 3:25 PM

Thanks for pointing this out, Brian. I've been
a member of Blue Security since July, and all 4
of the e-mail accounts I keep track of have
shown a decrease since I starting tracking them in
October (about 33% on average). From my experience, a seasonal increase was to be expected, but I got less spam.

This certainly is a company to keep an eye on,
and I'm sure we will hear more good things about
them in the near future.

Posted by: Tim at December 25, 2005 6:22 PM

mine has gone up considerably! i think up by 50%.

Posted by: shaine at December 26, 2005 1:50 PM

I do not notice a slowdown in spam but I love reporting the spam en see the frog starting to act. It is very rewarding to finally be able to fight back.

Posted by: Olaf at December 27, 2005 10:10 AM

Blue is an answer to a problem that is needed. No one is apposed to honest Busines people using the internet to send product info and such to customers that want to receive such information. But Spam crosses that line. Spammers exloits the internet to push their products into the faces of individuals that have not ask for their information. These individuals greatly fail to realize that a personal computer is just that. It is a persons Virtual space.

Spam is no different than a person clueing junk mail on to the windows of someones home. It is the unwanted dumping of garbage - pushed into the faces of people that are not interested nor asked ask to have a spammer crap push into theirs faces.

Bluefrog seems to be the only message these sociopaths trend to listen to.

They just don't get the message 99% do not want their crap in our "personal" email boxs. They are only concerned about their welfare and what they want - Your money.

We would not respect an a person who would fill a city streets, parks or schools with cheap and ugly flyers. Why should we allow these pigs to do the same to our virtual world. The internet is a Virtual Global city not a TV or Radio and should alwaysbe seen in that manner.

Blue frog has my support. It's time to hit back virtually at these individuals who feel the internet is there for their personal use and piss on the rest of us.

There are more than enough people out there. To be interested in your products and will come to you if you have the patient, good senses and respect of every one on the internet.

There will always be bottom feeds in our world and that does maen that we should tolerate their sickening and ugly behaviour.

It's time to stop them. It's to bad that no one in our goverments of the world know to take the lead in suchs projects like Blue frog. Then again social bottom feeder have always had a hard time seeing other social bottom feeders.

Posted by: Matt at December 31, 2005 5:18 AM

I have to agree that spam is an offensive deluge that is cheap and careless for spammers to send out. Providing this doesn't turn into DDoS, upping spammers' bandwidth costs is a polite but direct aim at the motivation and returns of the game. If spamming becomes unprofitable, it will no longer be a desirable occupation.

Posted by: David at January 12, 2006 11:36 AM

Just a quick post, I have been using the frog for a while and despite being initially cynical (i.e. signing up using my pulic email - which suffered the worst from spam anyway) I have been extremely impressed. The amount of spam I received has reduced to a bare trickle. Highly recommended, not sure where they are getting their money from but its a free service and it works well. Mozilla catches 90% of the spam and what it does catch it forwards to them :D

Posted by: Konrad at April 27, 2006 4:02 PM

I have been using the frog for the past few months, in the beginning I did not see any difference at all now for the past month or so...my spam has gone down by well over 50% !!!! The scum are getting a taste of their own medicine and frankly I am not bothered if they or their sponsors are getting DDOSed... its about time we got our mailboxes and time back!
I not put my gmail address openly on the net challenging spammers to send me email...let them and i will use the frog to send it right back to bite them on the ass!


Posted by: Ryan at May 1, 2006 9:14 AM

Spam is worse than junkmail or telemarketing. both such pay for sending the message. With spam, opeople along the route bear the costs of delivering the message, making it a form of distributed theft of service.

The national do not call list is a winner. We should indeed extend the bill authorizing it to form a national do not spam list.

Posted by: KIRK BAILEY at May 2, 2006 2:39 PM

This week a spammer proved - without a shadow of a doubt - that BlueFrog / Blue Security really works.
I received several messages from one particular spammer, clearly upset that his/her spamming has turned right round and smacked him/her squarely in the face.

The first message, was anti-BlueSecurity rubbish, the second, third, fourth, etc were just rubbish. The next morning they sent a sob story - telling us “we don’t want to send you these messages but BlueSecurity are forcing us”. Well, I’m sorry, but they’re commons license -->

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