Lycos Screensaver Site Blocked by Internet Backbones

Some major internet backbones are preventing access to the new Lycos "anti-spam" screensaver web site at This controversial site provides Internet users with the ability to participate in distributed attacks against web sites used by spammers, leaving the spammers with slow connections and high bandwidth costs.

Many users have reported problems accessing the web site since it was announced a few days ago. At first, these difficulties were thought to be as a result of the web site's success or revenge attacks by spammers. It now appears that some major Internet backbones are denying access to the IP address used to host Tracing a route to the host from Netcraft's main site in the UK reveals that access to the site has been blackholed by Global Crossing's worldwide network, leaving the site accessible from some areas but not others:

A dynamically updating chart of site performance for is available here.

Netcraft's uptime monitoring has thus reported consistent downtime from its monitoring sites in London, San Jose, and New York, with intermittent downtime from Amsterdam and Virginia. Netcraft's monitoring sites in Sydney and Pennsylvania have observed uninterrupted access to the web site.

The precise reasons for Global Crossing's action are unknown, but the blocking could seek to suppress the large amounts of Internet traffic typically generated during distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which some people fear could be generated by the screensaver tool. There are reports that Cox Communications is also preventing users from accessing the site. Lycos Europe insists it is managing the traffic to merely slow the sites, rather than knock them entirely offline. Nonetheless, several targeted sites are unavailable.

F-Secure's weblog states that some of web sites targeted by the screensaver have used meta tags to redirect traffic back to the web site; however, it is not clear that this has had any effect on the operation of the web site.

Debate continues about reports yesterday that the web site was defaced by hackers. Lycos has denied the site was hacked, saying journalists were misled by spoofed images circulated by spammers. But both F-Secure and ComputerWorld say readers report having seen the defacement on the site.