중앙데일리

Internet spam legend is jailed

Programmer’s creation sent ‘trillions’ of e-mail ads

Jan 31,2007
A computer programmer who developed a program to automatically send unsolicited advertising e-mail was detained yesterday, the Seoul Police Agency’s cyber terror response center announced. The programmer, who created what has become a legendary program for spewing spam, is a 21-year-old male college student, police said.
The police said several trillion advertisements ― trillion as in 12 zeros ― for Internet sex sites and private lenders had been sent to e-mail users from the name “Kim Ha-na” in 2003 and 2004. The use of that fairly common Korean woman’s name embarrassed many namesake women, prompting the Korea Information Security Agency to release a report outlining its efforts to halt the flow.
The authorities said the suspect developed the program when he was a high school sophomore; the software automatically created free e-mail accounts at the popular Hotmail service and pumped them out to other e-mail users.
The young man reportedly told police he had sold the program to four spam agencies for 300,000 won ($318) each.
As complaints about the unwanted mailings from Kim Ha-na mounted, in particular from women bearing that name, the administration beefed up its laws in 2005 to impose higher legal penalties on spammers. E-mail providers also introduced new software to block spam and make it harder or impossible for spammers to generate new e-mail accounts without human intervention.
Alarmed by the uproar he created, the man told police, he stopped working on other programs. In 2005, he enrolled as a computer science major at a Seoul university; last year, he began working at a sewing machine company in lieu of military service. But the bug bit again, and while he was on the job, he and a co-worker, 27, developed new programs, including one that generated fake financial Web sites that would lure the unwary to enter their personal data in the belief they were communicating with their credit card company.
Police said that during their investigation of the new problem, they found references to an Internet address that they were able to trace back to the older of the two men. They arrested him, and soon had his ambitious younger partner in custody as well.


By Lee Chul-jae(JoongAng Ilbo)/Kim Soe-jung(Staff Writer)[soejung@joongang.co.kr]


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