Millions of spam messages were sent to computer users worldwide.
Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have welcomed news that an Australian company and its director have been fined a total of AU $5.5 million (US $4.1 million) after it was claimed they sent over 200 million spam emails in a 12 month period.
The Perth, Western Australia-based spammer, Wayne Mansfield, and his company Clarity1, were found to have illegally sent out millions of spam messages in the 12 months since Australian spam laws were introduced in April 2004. In April 2005, Sophos reported how authorities in Australia raided a suspected spam factory in Perth, during which the contents of computer hard disks and other material were seized.
"This is the first time that spammers have been successfully prosecuted under the Australian Spam Act, and represents a victory for the authorities and the man in the street pestered by nuisance email," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Spam is a global problem, and robust action needs to be taken against spammers wherever they are based in the world in order to send out a clear message that their activities are unacceptable. Substantial penalties must be handed out to those people who choose to spam and spam again in their hunt for a quick profit."
Earlier this year, Justice Nicholson of the Federal Court in Perth rejected defense pleas that recipients had consented to receive the spam emails. Complaints about Mansfield's spam had been received from as far afield as the United Kingdom.
"Australia's Spam Act is a first step towards eradicating locally produced spam. However, it is only through the combination of international cooperation, local legislation, law enforcement, technology enforcement and user education that will help put a stop to spam," continued Cluley.
Sophos recommends that companies protect their email gateways with a consolidated solution to defend against viruses, spyware and spam. Businesses should also secure their desktop and servers with automatically updated protection.
Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.