and International Agencies Announce “Operation
Secure Your Server”
For Release: January
Campaign Urges Organizations
to Close Open Relays and Proxies to Prevent Them from Unwittingly
The United States Federal Trade Commission
and 36 additional agencies in 26 countries today announced “Operation
Secure Your Server,” an international effort to reduce
the flow of unsolicited commercial e-mail by urging organizations
to close “open relays” and “open proxies.” As
part of the initiative, the participating agencies have identified
tens of thousands of owners or operators of potentially open
relay or open proxy servers around the world, and the agencies
are sending letters urging the owners and operators to protect
themselves from becoming unwitting sources of spam.
Open relays and open proxies are servers
that allow any computer in the world to “bounce” or
route e-mail through servers of other organizations, thereby
disguising the real origin of the e-mail. Spammers often abuse
these servers to flood the Internet with unwanted e-mail. Their
abuses not only overload servers, but also could damage an
unwitting business’ reputation if it appears that the
business sent the spam.
“Operation Secure Your Server” provides
businesses with simple, inexpensive ways to protect their
computer systems from misuse. The FTC suggests that businesses
consider these questions to determine whether their proxy
servers are vulnerable:
- Does your proxy allow connections from
untrusted networks such as the Internet?
- Are you using the most current version
of your proxy software and hardware?
- Have you applied the latest available
patches or upgrades?
- Are you using proper access controls
for your server?
- Is someone regularly checking for unauthorized
uses of your proxy server?
- Do you have and monitor an “abuse@<yourdomain>” e-mail
account where people can report abuses of your proxy server?
“International cooperation is going
to play an important role in combating spam, as this project
clearly demonstrates,” said Howard Beales, Director of
the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. Moreover, “government
cannot solve the spam problem on its own; everyone with an
Internet connection must do their part to make sure that they
are part of the solution and not part of the problem.”
The FTC has created a Web page, http://www.ftc.gov/secureyourserver,
that contains information for businesses on how to protect
themselves from becoming unwitting distributors of spam. In
addition to the agencies’ letter, which is available
in 21 languages, the site contains business education and links
to other resources.
The FTC and agencies in Albania, Argentina,
Australia, Canada, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia,
Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, Hungary, Jamaica, Japan, Lithuania,
Norway, Panama, Peru, Romania, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea,
Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom are sponsoring
This year’s “Operation Secure
Your Server” follows on the heels of last year’s
campaign against open relays, when the FTC and participating
national and international agencies identified businesses with
potential open relays, urged them to close the relays, and
sent information on how to do so.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent
fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the
marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot,
stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information
on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP
(1 877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov.
The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and
other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure,
online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal
law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
Office of Public Affairs
Markus Heyder or Don Blumenthal
202-326-2644 or 202-326-2255