[LINK] NYT/SMH: To beat spam, pay to send email
jbirch at multinode.com.au
Wed Feb 4 12:15:04 EST 2004
Aren't there a set of good enough techniques for defeating spam
already? Most mail systems are actually very spam-friendly.
Whitelisting friendly domain name and source ip pairs.
Blacklists for open relays, known junk sources.
Greylisting anything suspect, like bad headers, mail from non MX
sources, rapid multiple mails from single sources, dictionaryish
Baysian filtering (lastly).
Using a set of these techniques would eliminate nearly all spam.
Attempts to get past these makes spamming harder with fewer, more
The main problems seem to me
1. Getting up to date smtp servers. Software with comprehensive
antispam features are uncommon or experimental. The usual culprits,
cost, knowledge, compatibility and legacy issues make change slow.
2. Linking client and server, like getting address books to whitelists,
junk button sends info to server. These would make the antispam systems
Digital signing offers little advantage (spamwise) over simply checking
for MX records, and would be insufficient on it's own. Systems still
get compomised. It's an engineering overkill that will produce it's own
problems and costs. No wonder billg at ms thinks it's the future.
Waiting for governments to fix it is pretty well guaranteed to be
useless as well. I support spam laws, going after vendors as well as
spammers (etc) but, given the international lassez-faire nature of the
net, these aren't likely to produce a comprehensive result in the near,
medium or long term. A lot of people are too clueless, there are too
many vested interests, privacy issues, etc. Although I'd personally be
happy to support medievil punishments for spammers, I reckon the DIY
solution is more effective.
I'd rate establishing and promoting an antispam best practice RFC highly
useful. If the makers of mail systems evaluated themselves against it
they would eventually produce systems that are not spam-friendly. As
these get common spamming becomes progressively harder and eventually
the costs will outweigh the return.
Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.
- Henry Louis Mencken
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