Can Spam Be Stopped By Focusing On Legitimate Mail?

from the coming-from-a-different-direction dept

The NY Times is taking a look at yet another way many companies are looking to stop spam. Instead of focusing on identifying the characteristics of spam and filtering them out, this approach is to identify legitimate email and letting it through. Reading through the details, this is really just “authenticated” email – an idea that is hardly new. The premise is that if you can definitely identify the sender of the email, it’s much easier to track them down and get them to stop spamming. It appears that the big ISPs are all working together on such a system – but not everyone agrees how it should be done. In fact, many of those ISPs don’t even agree that there should be a standard – since any standard will end any differentiation they might have on “better” spam fighting tools (though, if all the other ISPs agree – and it does cut out spam, there goes that argument anyway). Since no one wants to force a complete infrastructure overhaul on email, they say that any such system would be voluntary, but that anyone who didn’t follow it would have their email subject to additional spam scrutiny. As they say, using the authentication method would create an “express line” for legitimate emails. Still, many legitimate email marketers say that the ISPs plan will leave the system open for hacking spammers to hack into “approved” servers, and send out legitimate-looking emails. These marketers would prefer a system based on digitally signed certificates going out with each email. While some get upset whenever anyone mentions the idea of “authenticated sender”, it still sounds like the most reasonable plan I’ve heard.

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Comments on “Can Spam Be Stopped By Focusing On Legitimate Mail?”

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Tony Preston says:


I have been very successful with blocking spam at my home email. I use a program called K9 which is a baysian filter. I use the statistical filtering in combination with a whitelist of “expected” people. It may be that it does not statistically filter the whitelist accepted emails, just the “unknown” emails, but it allows just over 1% of the spam through. I get 500+ emails a week of which 50% are spam I never see.
The interesting thing is I have never had a false positive… A few emails have come close, but it has never once labeled a good email as spam. It
even picks up the “thank you” and Microsoft support fake trojans because I labeled them as spam (it took 4 or 5 of them before it learned to
reject them). Over the last couple of months I have gone for 4 or 5 days at a time without seeing a piece of spam….

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