First there was SPAM now there is SPIM

Spim targets instant messaging, or "IM"surging onto global networks as spammers try to get around electronic filters and laws reports The Age.

It has yet to become a threat in Australia, but is already a pest in the US and Europe. As Australia's new anti-spam laws, which come into force on April 10 and provide fines of up to $1 million a day against spammers, also cover spim.

Instant messaging is carried mainly by internet portals such as ninemsn, with MSN Messenger, Yahoo with Messenger, and AOL's AIM, but also by mobile phones and handheld computers such as Palm Pilots and iPaqs.

They allow direct online "chatting", usually by text messages, but, as broadband spreads, also by voice and even video. Users build "buddy lists"of accepted messagers, but IT experts say spimmers are filching the services' computer code and getting in.

"For a few hundred bucks, a professional spimmer will happily bombard IM users with messages,"said Matthew Hunt, of Omnipod, a US service provider.

Spim can also carry viruses, said Alan Bell, of internet security firm Network Associates, Sydney.

"Every time I walk around Hong Kong and Singapore my mobile phone keeps beeping with messages promoting restaurants and retailers of various kinds,"he said. "It just drives you bananas."

First there was spam, then spim, now more
By Garry Barker
Technology Editor
April 5, 2004


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