Striking out against spammers (sounds good already!) Lycos have developed a screensaver that should help to put the nasty blighters out of business. The screensaver endlessly requests data from sites that sell the goods and services mentioned in spam e-mail, thereby making the operating costs of spammers soar by keeping their servers running constantly.

"In the past we have built up the spam filtering systems for our users, but now we are going to go one step further. We've found a way to make it much higher cost for spammers by putting a load on their servers."

The software has to be carefully programmed to avoid the massive amounts of data being generated from overloading the web. But, if enough people sign up, it’s very possible that spamming websites could be forced to pay for gigabytes of traffic every single day. The list of sites that the screensaver will target is taken from real-time blacklists generated by organisations such as Spamcop, but Lycos is taking steps to ensure that only genuine spammers are affected by the software. The screensaver is due to be launched across Europe on 1 December.