SpamCop is an email spam reporting service, allowing recipients of unsolicited bulk or commercial email to report IP addresses found by SpamCop's analysis to be senders of the spam to the abuse reporting addresses of those IP addresses. SpamCop uses these reports to compile a list of computers sending spam called the "SpamCop Blocking List" or "SpamCop Blacklist" (SCBL).
SpamCop was founded by Julian Haight in 1998 as an individual effort. As the reporting service became more popular, staff were added and the SCBL became more useful. It has commonly been the target of DDoS attacks and lawsuits from organizations listed in the SCBL.
Email security company IronPort Systems announced its acquisition of SpamCop on November 24, 2003, but it remained independently run by Julian Haight, a small staff and volunteer help in its forum.
It has been seen as remarkable that SpamCop has survived for so many years, considering the severity of opposition other anti-spam companies have faced in the past, most notably Osirusoft and Blue Frog. SpamCop has dealt with attacks by spammers thus far by hiring services from Akamai, but is still the target of many hackers.
SpamCop views itself as an attempt to stop spam without the necessity of governmental intervention, but because it lacks the power of a government or large ISP, it may have greater difficulty dealing with spammers' expertise as well as the large "bot" networks that they control and that they used to cripple Blue Security with a massive DDoS attack.
For over a decade, SpamCop has provided paid email accounts through Corporate Email Services (CES). On August 9, 2014, in an email to email account holders, CES announced that "[a]s of September 30, 2014 (Tuesday) 6pm ET, the current SpamCop Email service will be converted to email forwarding-only with spam filtered by SpamCop for all existing SpamCop Email users" and that "SpamCop will no longer provide IMAP or POP service [after that date]."
SpamCop is effective at helping ISPs, web hosts and email providers identify accounts that are being abused and shut them down before the spammer finishes operations. SpamCop provides information from its reports to third parties who are also working to fight spam, amplifying the impact of its services beyond its own reach.
For first-time SpamCop Reporters, the SpamCop Parsing and Reporting Service requires that the reporter manually verify that each submission is spam and that the destinations of the spam reports are correct. People who use tools to automatically report spam, who report email that is not spam, or report to the wrong people may be fined or banned. This verification requires extra time and effort. Despite these steps, reports to innocent bystanders do happen and ISPs may need to configure SpamCop to not send further reports if they do not want to see them again.
While some spammers may use SpamCop's reports for listwashing, others could retaliate. Spammers who determine the identity of the complainants can, by doing so, also verify that the email addresses are still in use. Much spam email is filtered or blocked by the SCBL, which is fed by many SpamCop Reporters reporting their spam.
- Blue Frog
- Comparison of DNS blacklists
- E-mail spam
- List poisoning
- Network Abuse Clearinghouse
- Anti-spam techniques § Reporting spam
- Spam (electronic)
- Press release: Ironport System Acquires SpamCop 24 November 2003, accessed 11 August 2007
- Cisco Announces Agreement to Acquire IronPort 4 January 2007, accessed 9 October 2008
- D'Minion, Don. "Reporting problems today? - SpamCop Discussion Forums entry 81639". Retrieved 24 July 2012.
- "SpamCop Survives Under New Owner".
- Hansell, Saul (9 November 2003). "Spammers Can Run but They Can't Hide". The New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved 28 December 2010.