Steps taken by the IT industry to clamp down on spam may be forcing the nasty spammers to even more desperate measures, including some that can potentially destabilize the Internet's essential DNS.

One troublesome technique finding favour with spammers involves sending mass mailings in the middle of the night from a domain that has not yet been registered. After the mailings go out, the spammer registers the domain early the next morning.

By doing this, spammers hope to avoid stiff CAN-SPAM fines through minimal exposure and visibility with a given domain. The ruse, they hope, makes them more difficult to find and prosecute.

The problem with this is that it causes some unfortunate and potentially nasty side-effects. During the interval between mailing and registration, the SMTP servers on the recipients' networks attempt Domain Name System look-ups on the nonexistent domain. The result? Delays, timeouts and other performance issues on the DNS servers.