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01 Feb 2006

Porn spammer pleads guilty - faces five year jail sentence

US laws dictate that hardcore messages must include an explicit label.

Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have welcomed news that a man has pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the sending of spam containing graphic pornographic images.

Kirk Rogers, 42, of Manhattan Beach, California, was charged following complaints that hundreds of thousands of spam messages had been sent promoting adult pornographic websites. He pleaded guilty at a federal court in Phoenix, Arizona, to one count under the CAN-SPAM Act, and agreed to forfeit money obtained in the commission of the crimes. Rogers faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the offense.

"Firm action is required by the authorities to send a strong message to spammers that their activities are unacceptable," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "The US computer crime forces should be congratulated for catching someone else who was contributing to the menace of spam email."

According to the plea agreement entered at the court, Rogers developed, and then managed the computer system used to transmit the spam emails on behalf of Jeffrey A. Kilbride, of Venice, California, and James R. Schaffer, of Paradise Valley, Arizona. According to an earlier indictment, Kilbride and Schaffer conspired to send spam emails. America Online is said to have received more than 600,000 complaints between 30 January and 9 June 2004 from users regarding spam allegedly been sent by the operation. Kilbride and Schaffer's trial is scheduled to begin on 2 May 2006.

Under US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules spammers must include the warning 'SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT: ' in the subject lines of their pornographic emails or face fines. Spammers who do not clearly label their sexually orientated messages are in violation of federal law.

"The FTC guidelines on marking sexually explicit spam are unpopular amongst the spammers, because it makes it easier to identify unsolicited hardcore messages and prevent them from reaching users. Anything which makes life less profitable for spammers has to be good news for all of us," continued Cluley.

Kirk Rogers is scheduled to be sentenced on 5 June 2006.

Sophos recommends that companies protect their email gateways with a consolidated solution to defend against viruses and spam, as well as apply an email policy that filters unsolicited executable code at the gateway. Businesses should also secure their desktop and servers with automatically updated protection.

About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.