Russian minister suffers from spam rage, Sophos comments

August 01, 2003 Sophos Press Release

Russian Minister Andrei Korotkov is said to have been enraged by spam
Russian Minister Andrei Korotkov is said to have been enraged by spam

According to reports in the Moscow Times, Russian Deputy Communications Minister Andrei Korotkov was so enraged by the amount of spam he was receiving he launched a counter-attack: unsolicited phone calls.

Korotkov was annoyed after receiving 40 emails inviting him to join an English class at the American Language Center.

"I sent them an email thanking them for the offer to teach me English - which I already know - and asked them to stop," said Korotkov, who oversees the Electronic Russia initiative, a government program to use the internet for greater efficiency.

Korotkov claims that not only was he not removed from the mailing list, but he found himself added to several more. In response, Korotkov recorded an audio message to be played to telephone numbers included in the spam messages.

"They wanted to joke us around, so we decided to joke them around, too," Korotkov explained.

The American Language Center's office manager, Natalya Petrova, reported that they were bombarded with more than 1000 automated phone calls in a single morning.

Anyone answering the phone heard Korotkov's voice intoning: "I want to warn you that if you continue your illegal activity, then the necessary measures will be taken not just by me."

Efforts would be made, Kortokov's recorded voice said, "to make it impossible for you to get in the way of email users and to make your life complicated. Once again, I implore you, stop these illegal activities and think of some legal ways to achieve your goals."

The American Language Center, based near the Oktyabrskaya train station, was forced to block telephone calls, and was forced to post a message on its website explaining that they could not currently be contacted by phone, and that interested parties should use the internet to contact them instead.

"More and more people are frustrated with the amount of unsolicited email they are receiving," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "However, this Russian minister is not really setting a sensible example for others through his actions. A much better solution would be to install at his email gateway a consolidated solution to protect against the threat of spam and viruses."