[linux-elitists] On spam, stamps, and hygiene

Phil Mayers p.mayers@imperial.ac.uk
Sat Feb 7 06:48:49 PST 2004

On Sat, Feb 07, 2004 at 04:34:43AM -0500, Rick Bradley wrote:
> * Karsten M. Self (kmself@ix.netcom.com) [040206 23:41]:
> >     Spam volume by ASN, top 100 contributing ASNs
> >     http://linuxmafia.com/~karsten/Images/spam-by-asn.png
> > 
> >     Cumulative spam volume by ASN, top 100 contributing ASNs
> >     http://linuxmafia.com/~karsten/Images/cum-spam-by-asn.png
> Not trying to sound like an idiot here, but those graphs show an obvious
> power law.  Plot that first graph log-log and look at the line you get.
> Which prompts the question:  How does the maxim "them what has, gets"
> apply to the physics of the spammer universe?  "People" must know where
> to go to get their spam sent, and some society must know who're the
> biggest and "best" spammers.
> Take out the top spammers and you cripple the spamming network.  Do it
> in a high-profile way and you deal a serious blow to spamming in
> general.  This tells me that technology alone shifts the graph downwards
> but doesn't change its shape, while legal action against the biggest
> offenders is likely to change the shape of the graph.

Or extra-legal action...

A friend of mine pointed something out (he's what you might call
"morally challenged") over a beer the other night:

1) Most spam is from ~200 sources
2) Larger organisations, on the whole, expend more resources (even if
it's only compute time and bandwidth) battling spam.

If HP, IBM, Dell, Intel, Microsoft, etc. were to meet up and do a quick
total of their costs fighting spam, I bet it would work out cheaper to
just have the spammers killed.

[Not to mention MSes Hotmail division, AOL, and if you want to get
tricky, ISPs and peering points; now that many virii are written solely
to send spam, eliminating the market should in theory reduce some of the
problems we have with worms etc.]

I shook my head and informed him of the gap in the market being filled
etc. and he replied:

"So kill them in a highly public and unpleasant manner! Shoot their kids
and chop the hands off the techies that work for them for all I care.
That ought to stop anyone trying to fill their shoes."

Scary, scary stuff. I made my excuses and left him to his ravings...



| Phil Mayers                              |
| Network & Infrastructure Group           |
| Information & Communication Technologies |
| Imperial College                         |

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