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Course Material | Pond Scum | Filtering works!

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Course Material
One of my online students posted a reference to your exegesis on spam. It is coherent, analytical, and a little depressing. I will use this article in future semesters. The course is a sociological one on modern social problems, in which the first discussion is on whether spam constitutes a true social problem. You have made an excellent case for it being so.Thank you. I am honored that my article is to become part of your curriculum.

I think in a deeper sense, the spam issue merely represents a new shape to some longstanding social problems, not really new. Instead of an itinerant snake oil salesman with a cart and mule, we have virtual purveyors of things that seem, and are, too good to be true, delivered impersonally by wire and even through the air.

I am saying the medium of delivery is all that has really changed — that and the speed of delivery. And perhaps the sheer volume.
Thank you.You are most welcome.
Pond Scum
I just received a spam message from the lowest life form on planet Earth — a phony anti-spam corporation. Here's the message: Hi Paul,

I was wondering whether you sell logo/banner space on your page: http://arachnoid.com/lutusp/antispam.html.

I would be more than interested in discussing any deal you are open for where [ ... ] AntiSpam Corporation would provide your sites with free email filtering in return for some link on your site back to our website or something.

Looking forward to your response!

This takes my breath away. This "anti-spam" corporation spammed me, specifically to get advertising space on my anti-spam page, in exchange for an e-mail filtering service that clearly can't keep them from spamming me, and on top of that, they want a reciprocal link, another low practice I discuss here.

Honest to God — I wish I were making up these clueless hypocrites.

"No matter how cynical I get, it's just never enough to keep up." — Lily Tomlin.
Filtering works!
I stumbled on your site when searching for antispam discussions, and found your article on that subject quite interesting. I agree with what you said, but most spam to small businesses and individuals doesn't forge the sending host. That's right — because they don't have to, because most modern spam emanates from botnets, the cells of which which are now so numerous that there's no point in trying to forge the origins. For a botnet there is no reasonable likelihood that a spam recipient will hear from the same cell two times in a row, out of a botnet size that can number in the hundreds of thousands. So, for small businesses and individuals I find that using DKIM or SPF together with an address lookup to Spamhaus and Spamcop and a antivirus software will keep them pretty much spam free. If this works it's a temporary fix, only because the spam originates with amateurs, neophyte spammers who don't understand the business but who will learn. That is, however, not true for larger corporations and government functions, who recieve more targeted spam from unlisted sources. They're "unlisted" because they're not spam servers at all, but individual compromised machines scattered all over the world. This is no disagreement with your article in any way, just a reflection that these simple techniques (DKIM / SPF / Spamhaus) works well for me and a few small companies I have helped. The only spammers for whom these methods work are a small minority who belong in the shallow end of the pool (e.g. inexperienced). Once they realize they're being filtered, they switch to using a botnet.

In my article I emphasize that modern spam depends on botnets, which means filtering won't work. You're describing people who try to use the old methods, find out they don't work, and evolve.

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