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178UKPD       © 2004-5 PatentlyProtected.com
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ABSTRACT

A computer program for requesting information from Internet targets related to spam operations, such as to
decrease a profitability of such spam operations against an email provider. The emphasis is on downloading
content and not on using available upload bandwidth for sending requests.


A program for reducing spam email

This invention relates to a program and method for processing data for reducing incident unwanted emails for
an individual or an email provider.

Spam are unsolicited or otherwise unwanted messages sent over a network according to the ubiquitous well
known email format. Such messages comprise more than 50% of all messages sent across the Internet at
the present time. Spammers are people or their configured computers or programs which actively sent out
hundreds or millions of spam emails each day. In the past, various schemes have been proposed to stop
spam including providing fake email addresses, throttling bandwidth from entire domains identified as
supplying particularly large amounts of spam, filters based on keywords, on content and other common
attributes of spam. Filters which monitor originating addresses and identify those used for spam, those which
self optimise for better filtering and those which take advantage of user feedback to identify spam are all
known.
In order to discourage spammers in the first place the methods of providing fake email addresses and filters
reduces the success rate of the spam in getting users to view the email. Email providers are thus likely to
receive less spam from those spammers who do not use the latest techniques to evade spam detection, or
who devote the most effort to finding active email addresses. Most spammers are known to take note of their
success rate and to direct their attention elsewhere if an address or email provider is not generating profit.
Profit is generally provided by third parties offering or pertaining to offer products or services to which the spam
emails generally direct users who view the emails, who may offer remuneration based on for example
click-through rates. Hyperlinks in spam emails may contain information allowing the spammer or the product
or service provider to identify the user and or the spammer. Other forms of profit may be through viruses
attached to spam emails which may proliferate, extract user or computer information, and may generate
on-screen adverts such as pop-up adverts without the need for any further emailing. Especially in the case of
the most disreputable or illegal forms of spam such as phishing spam emails which direct a user to website
designed to convince the user that the website is a reputable entity such as a bank that the user may do
business with, thereby to encourage the user to enter details such as passwords and account details, the
spammer and the supposed product or service provider are likely to be one and the same.
Unfortunately the known methods have evidently so far failed to sufficiently limit spam proliferation and better
tools are needed.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a means whereby spammers are discouraged from
spamming at least an address, group of email addresses or email service provider.
It is another object of the present invention to provide such a means adding an expenditure to a profit
generated by spam such that websites offering or pertaining to offer products and services and obtaining
interest via spam solicitation generate less profit when such spam is directed at an email address, group of
email addresses or email provider.

According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a computer program for controlling a
computer to read a list of a plurality of Internet targets compiled with reference to hyperlinks of identified spam
and relating to a plurality of Internet domains, to transmit data packets comprising information requests via an
Internet connection relating to such listed targets or to information within such targets, and to receive
information therefrom via an Internet connection.
According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a computer program for generating a
list of a plurality of Internet targets for a computer program of the first aspect to read.
According to a third aspect there is provided a computer operably supporting the computer program of at least
one of the first and second aspects.
According to a fourth aspect there is provided an at least one computer readable medium or network signal
having encoded therein or thereon the computer program of at least one of the first and second aspects.
According to a fifth aspect there is provided a method of reading a list of a plurality of Internet targets compiled
with reference to hyperlinks of identified spam and relating to a plurality of Internet domains, transmitting data
packets comprising information requests via an Internet connection relating to such listed targets or to
information within such targets, and receiving information therefrom via an Internet connection.
According to a sixth aspect of the invention there is provided a business method of providing or developing the
computer program of at least one of the first and second aspects.

In the following description, various aspects of the present invention will be described. For purposes of
explanation, specific configurations and details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of
the present invention. However, it will also be apparent to one skilled in the art that the present invention may
be practised without the specific details. Furthermore, well known features may be omitted or simplified in
order not to obscure the present invention.

According to a general embodiment of the first aspect there is provided a computer program for controlling a
computer to read a list of a plurality of Internet targets compiled with reference to hyperlinks of identified spam
and relating to a plurality of Internet domains, to transmit data packets comprising information requests via an
Internet connection relating to such listed targets or to information within such targets, and to receive
information therefrom via an Internet connection.
The program may preferably be provided with an emphasis on downloading a stream of data substantially
from listed targets.
The program preferably does not use all of any bandwidth available.
The program preferably does not use bandwidth when any other program requires bandwidth, alternatively a
user may input a desired maximum bandwidth in the case of when no other programs require band width,
more preferably a user may be able to input preferred bandwidth usage characteristics.
The program may be implemented in any of or any combination of an email client program, a tool bar
providing program and an email viewing program.
The program may be adapted to request any or preferably all of websites, web pages, files, all available
information in listed domains, all available information at listed IP addresses.
The program may preferably be adapted to retrieve information using FTP (file transfer protocol) in addition to
HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol).
The list may be preferably compiled with respect to spam received at a particular email provider or at a
particular domain.
The compilation characteristics of the list may preferably be advertised so that spammers may modify their
behaviour accordingly.
For the purposes of compiling the list spam must be identified. This may be perform in any manner and may
utilise any of the known methods listed near the beginning of this document.
Note that this application does not relate to any form of a denial of service attack. The emphasis is on
downloading content to utilize download bandwidth rather than sending information request packets utilizing
upload bandwidth.
According to any of the embodiments downstream bandwidth may be substantially utilized whilst upstream
bandwidth may preferably be predominantly otherwise available.
According to any of the embodiments the downloaded information may be automatically used to generate data
which may be utilised or viewed.
The target list may be generated individually by an email client, email viewing program or individual user
program adapted to generate a list based on filtered email. Such a program may be incorporated in an email
filtering computer program or may view email filtered by another program.
There may be provided means by which to conceal a user identity. There may be provided a peer-to-peer
network accessing capability for sharing information regarding spam emails and or identified targets by which
means a plurality of such programs may be configured to form a consensus regarding the extent of spam
related targets. There may be provided means to identify an owner or controller of a website or Internet target
such as preferably through a 'whois' lookup request and to search for other target owned or controlled by such
an identified owner or controller. There may be provided means to access target websites and or target web
pages, to identify form fields inviting email address entry, and to provide such form fields with random or
otherwise invalid email addresses.
According to any of the embodiments any of the features of any of the embodiments may be selected in any
combination to form a new embodiment.

Description of the Preferred Embodiments.
An embodiment of this invention will now be explained with reference to the drawings. This invention is for use
as a spam discourager. An email provider may compile a list of targets relating to information contained in
identified spam. The list may contain references to IP addresses, websites, web pages and files.
An information retrieving program retrieves information from targets specified.
A large number of computers may operate such a computer program so as to demand a large amount of
bandwidth from the targets thus making generating a relationship between spamming or inviting spammers
to spam email addresses of an email service provider and having an increased non-profit making bandwidth
demand.

CLAIMS

1. A computer program for controlling a computer to read a list of a plurality of Internet targets compiled with
reference to hyperlinks of identified spam and relating to a plurality of Internet domains, to transmit data
packets comprising information requests via an Internet connection relating to such listed targets or to
information within such targets, and to receive information therefrom via an Internet connection.

2. A computer program of claim 1 adapted to refrain from requesting such information when another program
requires bandwidth.

3. A computer program of claim 1 or 2 having an emphasis on utilising download bandwidth for downloading
information from targets, rather than on utilising upload bandwidth for sending requests.

4. A computer program for generating a list of a plurality of Internet targets for a computer program of any one
of claims 1 to 3 to read, based on identified spam emails.

5. A computer program of claim 4 operably supported by a server for generating such a list based on identified
spam emails received by or via an email service provider, the list being available for use at least on computers
of users of said email service provider.

6. A computer program of claim 5 operably supported by a computer terminal generating such a list based on
identified spam emails received by said computer terminal.

7. A computer operably supporting the computer program of at least one of claims 1 to 4.

8. An at least one computer readable medium or network signal having encoded therein or thereon the
computer program of at least one claims 1 to 4.

9. A method of reading a list of a plurality of Internet targets compiled with reference to hyperlinks of identified
spam and relating to a plurality of Internet domains, transmitting data packets comprising information
requests via an Internet connection relating to such listed targets or to information within such targets, and
receiving information therefrom via an Internet connection.
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