TECHNOLOGY: SPAM is preventable

Digital Frontlines
We Can’t Get Rid Of Spam
Ed Sperling, 06.28.10, 06:00 AM EDT

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After nearly 15 years of filling inboxes with electronic garbage, the problem only seems to be getting worse.

Spam may well be one of those IT problems that never completely goes away, like rust on a ship. There are filters and services that can keep it to a manageable level, but even those don’t get rid of the problem entirely. Some of it still creeps through spam blockers, ultimately costing companies sizable amounts of money in terms of storage and employee productivity that is used to read it and delete it.

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>We can’t get rid of spam

Sorry, but I disagree. And, with that type of attitude, we will never be rid of it.

Let’s start with the basic features of the internet.

IPv4 doesn’t FORCE full authentication. IPv6 moves us along. No one is really pushing IPv6.

The mail protocol has no real authentication.

Now on to the details. The Peering Points have no economic interest in stopping SPAM or creating a feedback mechanism. The ISPs have some half-hearted “committees” working on “solutions”. (Note, when one domain was cut off spam dropped dramatically, but it was reconnected. Someone’s pocket book get hit?)

BUT, any assumption that “it can’t cured” is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Like the “user’s chronological age” problem, (i.e., how does a website KNOW there’s a child at the other end of the wire), this solution to SPAM is TOTALLY within the ISP’s control.

(1) Implement a fully authenticate email protocol. (SMTP has served well for decades; time for a face lift.) Turn the smart folks loose on the problem.

(2) End free email service. “Stamps” for email sent and received are essentially micropayments for cryptographic keys.

(3) If the User gets spam, give them a feedback loop to get their money back. That gives the ISP the trail. (Wall Street and most businesses can handle “chargebacks”.) Get after the various ISPs and Websites with email, that pass spam, with a big club — additional expense!

(I have to laugh when I get spam on Yahoo that purports to originate FROM a Yahoo email address. Yahoo doesn’t even bother to parse it’s own email. If the email purports to have originated from within it’s own domain, why is it coming in from the outside. That should be an easy fix.)

(4) Implement a PKI infrastructure and than you know who sent it and can come down hard on that person. Why should email be like writing on a postcard? Could it be that there are economic advantages to allowing snooping?

The software vendor’s are not immune to criticism in this mess. They put out OS and Applications software that buggy and allows this mess to continue.

IMHO, this SHOULD BE a solved problem.

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3 Responses to TECHNOLOGY: SPAM is preventable

  1. Mister Reiner says:

    I’m anonymous to most people and that’s good enough for me. I know that if someone really wants to find me, it’s easy enough to do.

    Agreeing to disagree is always good in my book.


  2. reinkefj says:

    >When it comes to email, I like the fact that I have the option of being anonymous.

    But, you’re not. Depending upon your ISP and your email method, you’re trackable with a little effort. And certainly with a subpoena.

    >I don’t send spam

    How do you know? You could have malware on your machine that’s doing the sending for you. As long as it’s “smart”, and triggering your ISP’s anti-spam traps, you’ll never be really sure. (You have to have your own hardware firewall and review logs to be certain.

    >and my tone and language are not offensive.

    Well, I should hope not. Bloggers know how obnoxious trolls can be.

    >Should I lose the benefits of anonymity just because some people abuse the system?

    Well, your not anonymous unless you use a TOR router client. And, yes. SPAM costs everyone time, space, energy, and attention. That’s not even counting the losses of the folks who get duped. Comcast figured they lost a fortune, in the millions, transporting and storing spam. That translates into higher costs for Customers.

    >I don’t think so.

    I do. So we’ll just have to agree to disagree agreeably. :-)

  3. Mister Reiner says:

    Interesting perspective.

    When it comes to email, I like the fact that I have the option of being anonymous. I don’t send spam and my tone and language are not offensive. Should I lose the benefits of anonymity just because some people abuse the system? I don’t think so.

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