ORBS III: Control passes from NZ to UK

The man responsible for resurrecting ORBS, the open relay behaviour-modification system, says not only is former owner Alan Brown not involved in any way, the two are in dispute over the name of the database.

The man responsible for resurrecting ORBS, the open relay behaviour-modification system, says not only is former owner Alan Brown not involved in any way, the two are in dispute over the name of the database. Paul Cummins, a UK-based anti-spam campaigner, says Palmerston North-based Brown has asked him to stop using the name ORBS. "But I don’t believe it’s his name to control," Cummins says. "Other than that we have no link at all. He has neither offered to assist and ORBS III is being run using information in the public domain from May 21." The date is significant since it is before Brown was taken to court by ISPs Xtra and Actrix, which were granted an injunction requiring their names be removed from Brown's ORBS list. ORBS is a database of open relays; such relays can be used by spammers to hide their tracks. Both Xtra and Actrix complained to Brown that their servers were listed despite not running an open relay; they claimed Brown included their servers for personal reasons. Cummins says there will be a number of fundamental changes to the way he runs the database, first of which is the removal of Xtra and Actrix from the listings. "We’re taking the moral high ground. We won’t list anything unless it’s an open relay; there will be no spite listings at all." Cummins defines an open relay as one that is unsecured; if a relay is open but requires authentication to use or is behind a firewall and so invisible to spammers, he’s content to leave that alone. "That would be termed a secure server and wouldn’t make it to the list at all." Cummins, who refers to ORBS by its original name open relay blocking system, says a key component of making ORBS work properly is trust. "If the users don’t trust ORBS then it won’t work. It’s as simple as that... "If any site is still in the main ORBS listing that shouldn’t be there I want to hear about it so I can remove it from the database." Cummins says he’s had the server running for only a matter of days, yet has received notification of open relays from dozens of sources around the world. He’s still manually testing each notified server, something which is taking time. "An automated system should be put in place soon; we’re testing it tonight."

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