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News and comments on community broadband networks, the communities deploying them and the technologies that support them. Published by Denise Frey and Al Bonnyman.

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Monday, October 13, 2003

 

The war on spam: "Filters that fight back"

From Paul Graham's web site"

"We may be able to improve the accuracy of Bayesian spam filters by having them follow links to see what's waiting at the other end. Richard Jowsey of death2spam now does this in borderline cases, and reports that it works well."

"Why only do it in borderline cases? And why only do it once?"

"As I mentioned in 'Will Filters Kill Spam?', following all the urls in a spam would have an amusing side-effect. If popular email clients did this in order to filter spam, the spammer's servers would take a serious pounding. The more I think about this, the better an idea it seems. This isn't just amusing; it would be hard to imagine a more perfectly targeted counterattack on spammers."

"So I'd like to suggest an additional feature to those working on spam filters: a "punish" mode which, if turned on, would spider every url in a suspected spam n times, where n could be set by the user."

"As many people have noted, one of the problems with the current email system is that it's too passive. It does whatever you tell it. So far all the suggestions for fixing the problem seem to involve new protocols. This one wouldn't."

"If widely used, auto-retrieving spam filters would make the email system rebound. The huge volume of the spam, which has so far worked in the spammer's favor, would now work against him, like a branch snapping back in his face. Auto-retrieving spam filters would drive the spammer's costs up, and his sales down: his bandwidth usage would go through the roof, and his servers would grind to a halt under the load, which would make them unavailable to the people who would have responded to the spam."

"Pump out a million emails an hour, get a million hits an hour on your servers."


(Link from Dewayne Hendricks via his Dewayne-Net mailing list)

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