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May 16th, 2008

Stolen Database Being Used To Spam Stickam Users

Users of, a live webcam chat site with more than two million members, many of them teenagers, have been spammed this month with messages that mention Stickam but promote pornographic live video sites. The spam message pretends to be sent by a friend from Stickam and offers victims to send a message to certain MSN messenger address. If you send messages to the included address, you get a link to a page promoting one woman’s offerings on SlickCams, a live pornography site that appears to be unrelated to Stickam.

Many of the people receiving the spam are assuming that it is coming from Stickam. Stickam says it is not sending the messages — but it is the source of the e-mail addresses to which they are being sent. Hackers broke into a message board system on the site in November and made off with the addresses that are now getting spam.

The spam attack comes at an awkward time for Stickam, which has developed a reputation as a place where teenagers do things they probably shouldn’t be doing in front of webcams. Its image was not helped by the revelation that it is backed by a large online pornography business.

The hacking problem raises questions about whether the site is doing enough to protect its users’ personal information. Stickam released a statement from its chief executive, Steven Fruchter, saying that the spam was “a result of illegal hacking on an old community forum system, which is no longer used.” has alerted the law enforcement authorities and is working closely with them to pursue legal action against those involved. The company was working with “the Secret Service and a specialized Internet security research firm” on a continuing investigation into the hack. He said that the spam problem should not affect people who have joined the site since the break-in, and that Stickam has taken steps “to ensure this type of event can never happen again.”


Credit:  David F. Gallagher, The New York Times Bits

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    One Response to “Stolen Database Being Used To Spam Stickam Users”

    1. Doug Asker Says:
      June 8th, 2008 at 6:21 pm

      It seems that the social networking movement will be stopped in its tracks if people loose confidence in those who store their data. Social networking companies need good and effective spam bots but also, and more importantly, human intervention. Faceparty in the UK had recently had to kill their chat rooms because of abuse. Effective moderation will just have to be seen as a cost of doing business in this space!

      -Doug Asker

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