ORBS reborn again

Kiwi anti-spam proponent Alan Brown is no longer in charge but ORBS, the open relay behaviour modification system, is alive and kicking and running from the UK - and Xtra and Actrix are both still listed.

Kiwi anti-spam proponent Alan Brown is no longer in charge but ORBS, the open relay behaviour modification system, is alive and kicking and running from the UK - and Xtra and Actrix are both still listed.

UK-based anti-spam crusader Paul Cummins says that by using data previously published by Alan Brown - together with a distributed DNS as used by ORBS - ORBS files are now available for DNS search.

Brown of Manawatu Internet Services (MIS) previously ran the ORBS database. Xtra and Actrix sued him over his inclusion of them in the database of open relays, commonly used by spammers. Brown closed ORBS shortly after the court hearing and MIS has since also been closed down. While there has been much debate on the idea of ORBS being hosted off-shore, Brown has maintained his firm “no comment” stance on the issue.

“I don’t know if we are listed - I’ve got people checking on that right now,” says Actrix marketing manager Steve Richie. He says he may take legal action over the listing if it exists.

“It depends on the circumstances and who’s doing it. If Alan Brown has played a part in it we would certainly consider taking some action.”

Richie says he is not opposed to ORBS “in principle”.

“Provided people are there for the right reasons. That was our complaint - that we were there for the wrong reason. If they’re performing a genuine anti-spam function then great.”

Cummins, in his posting to an anti-spam newsgroup announcing ORBS UK, makes it clear both Xtra and Actrix are to continue being listed.

“Do not rely on the manual or whitelist entries, these have not been changed from the last available ORBS dumps from Alan Brown. In particular, the manual entries list include XTRA, Domainz, and Telecom NZ. It is the opinion of ORBS UK that these listings are and remain valid.”

Cummins will make some changes to the system - Brown was accused of using ORBS in personal vendettas and of listing sites that blocked ORBS testing. Cummins will only list sites “after confirmed receipt of relay-spam from that site” although he will also block sites that send “cartoony threats” against ORBS.

This isn’t the first time ORBS has been re-born - in November 1998 ORBS was shut down after its host ISP, Canada’s BC Tel, received complaints about ORBS’ testing. It asked that ORBS warn administrators before running a test but then owner Alan Hodgson refused.

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