[linux-elitists] On spam, stamps, and hygiene
Karsten M. Self
Thu Feb 5 11:56:48 PST 2004
Marketplace Radio carried a short fluff item on e-postage yesterday.
Which is only about the third or forth fully clueless tech piece I've
seen in the media this week.
Your e-stamps piece Wednesday the 4th was a dissapointingly naive
bit of advertorial opportunism in the face of the ongoing war
If a solution to the spam problem is to work without breaking the
current email system in radical ways, and without making email
inaccessible to those who've found it a tremendously useful fast,
and inexpensive communications medium, then "e-postage" is right
out. As an individual, I'd spend $350 on postage for the email I've
sent so far this year -- and that's excluding complaints about spams
and viruses. Even a penny or fraction of a penny would make email
prohibitively expensive to clubs and nonprofits who run mailing
lists with hundreds or thousands of subscribers as an inexpensive
way to stay in touch.
Worse, "transactionalizing" activities on the Internet opens a
Pandora's box many have feared for years. It's an open secret that
Microsoft have wanted to worm their way into financial transaction
processing for years, competing with the likes of Visa and
Mastercard -- for a small take of each transaction.
The fact is that email is a behavioral problem -- it's abuse of a
rich communications channel by a very small number of groups.
Spamhaus.org, which tracks spam and spammers, estimates 90% of spam
comes from as few as 200 "spam gangs". And these gangs operate with
the cooperation of major service providers. My own tracking
statistics show that China and Korea are major spam sources, with a
single Korean provider accounting for over 10% of all spam I
receive. But major US broadband providers are also to blame. Comcast
recently had over 9 million IPs -- street numbers on the Information
Superhighway if you will -- added to a spam list for persistantly
failing to deal with spam and abuse on its network. My own ISP,
Earthlink, turns out to host at least three spam organizations,
including two of the most notorious spam gangs, one since August,
Not all networks are bad:AOL and MSN both emit very little spam,
considerable for their size (and I'm generally no fan of either).
What's necessary is for pressure -- market, legal, social, and
technical -- to be put on those who spam, and those who facilitate
spam, if we really plan to take this problem seriously. The risk
otherwise is that the killer app of the Internet will be killed.
I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that spam is a hygeine issue. Much
the same way as health epidemics in the past two years (SARS and avian
'flu) have pointed out that regions which don't address local health
problems, don't provide useful information on the state of an outbreak,
don't respond to queries about status, and don't take action to notice
of problems, are blackballed and quarantined.
As distasteful as it is to some, it appears that the response of some in
the antispam community to persistant spam sources is valid: blacklist
spamming hosts, providers, ISPs, and ASNs. I'm seeing little reason to
allow any traffic from Korea or China. While spam volumes from the US
may be higher, the spam _proportion_ from these netblocks is wholly
beyond comparison. Brazil and several African states are similarly
overwhelmed by spam.
And there are providers within the US and Canada which have atrocious
records. Comcast has had 9 million IPs listed at L1 by SPEWS as the
cable giant has consistently failed to address spam and abuse issues
from within its networks. The SPEWS listing reads "Poster child of how
not to run a broadband network company when it comes to dealing with
Checking on my own ISP at Spamhaus, I found that Earthlink rates three
listing, two of these for the notorious "ROKSO" (registry of known spam
operation) spammers, one active since August, 2003:
02-Aug-2003 08:38 GMT Paul Mentes / Palmnet.com / RxMedical
07-Jan-2004 01:48 GMT zombies
europaglobal.com ; outpostdigital.net ; accesspj.net
18-Jun-2003 20:38 GMT Spammer verifying spam lists
This is the same ISP whose abuse manager, Mary Youngblood, states in an
Q: What's your ultimate goal? Is it to rid the world of spammers
A: I want my company to be synonymous for 'don't go there' for these
Earth(link) to Mary; they're here.
More happy fun Mary quotes:
The bullshit factor's just getting a little too deep for me.
Karsten M. Self <firstname.lastname@example.org> http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
Rules of Spam:
#2: If a spammer seems to be telling the truth, see rule #1. #3: Spammers
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