Lavasoft News - January 2007

Groups Waging the War Against Spam

Scott Hazen Mueller is the founder of what is considered the "Great Granddaddy of all anti-spam sites", spam.abuse.net.

The site launched in 1996 as a petition site for a consumer boycott of anything spam-related - products sold via spam, spamming services, and the corporations supporting the services. It has become a household name in the anti-spam community.

"The goal is to be the first stop for people interested in learning about spam and about stopping it," Mueller told Lavasoft News. The site provides countless links and resources and is always looking for new additions that are of interest to the anti-spam community.

Mueller decided to take his anti-spam fight one step further and launched the ad-hoc, all volunteer organization, CAUCE. The Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail (www.cauce.org) was formed to lobby the US Congress to outlaw UCE (Unsolicited Commercial E-mail), better known as spam.

Congress passed CAN-SPAM in 2003, federal legislation that many in the anti-spam community, like Mueller, see as a failure.

"While we wait for that to become fully evident - and wait for a better legislative climate - we are participating as a consumer representative in industry groups," said Mueller.

Mueller has also been busy helping launch CAUCE sibling groups such as EuroCAUCE and CAUCE.au that have lobbied their governments for laws against spam.

In the early days of UCE, when spammers started advertising their tools for sale, many like Mueller actually thought the problem would eventually fizzle out.

"Those of us in the anti-spam community jumped on that as proof that spamming was a giant pyramid scheme and that the easy money was running out and so the spammers were looking for suckers to fleece and leave holding the bag," he said. "Unfortunately, it appears that we were wrong - not only is there money in being a spammer, it's serious big money."

And Spamhaus knows all about that. The non-profit organization based in the UK tracks global spam gangs, works with Law Enforcement Agencies like the FBI to pursue spammers, and offers real time anti-spam protection for networks. But it is perhaps best known for its ROKSO database (Register of Known Spam Operations).

According to Spamhaus, up to 80% of spam targeted at Internet users in North America and Europe is generated by approximately 200 known professional spam gangs. The top 10 list of its ROKSO database spammers, including names and pictures, is updated weekly and posted here.

Perhaps the most infamous spammer to date, American Jeremy Jaynes, who is now behind bars serving a nine year sentence in a Virginia prison, was listed as the eighth-worst spammer on the ROKSO list at the time of his arrest. His was the first ever US felony conviction in a spamming case.

Anti-spam advocate Mueller thinks these spammers will continue to bombard our inboxes so intensely that it could eventually drive our current form of e-mail communication into extinction.

"Well, the easy call is that it (spam) will get worse again; it has every year since 1996. Ultimately, I think.e-mail is going to have to be replaced with something else. What that is, and where it will come from, I have no idea."

What are your thoughts? Will e-mail become extinct? What do you think it will be replaced with? Write to us at editor@lavasoft.com and we'll post some of your thoughts in the next edition of Lavasoft News.

 

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Spam Stats
1971 The first e-mail was sent by the computer engineer Ray Tomlinson
50 billion Number of e-mails sent every day
45 billion Number of e-mails from spammers
$50 billion The cost in lost productivity and expenses to fight spam in 2006
Source: The Times Online

Term of the Month
Internet lore claims the term spam gets its name from the well-known Monty Python sketch set in a café where every dish comes with the tinned-meat product Spam! A spam e-mail message is defined as being both unsolicited and bulk.

Forum Spam
Lavasoft's forums administrator CalamityJane deals with spam on a daily basis. She actually bans about 100 spammers per month. "Our forums do employ prevention measures such as requiring e-mail validation of new members and the CAPTCHA security routine, plus we have ban filters in place to minimize the amount of spam posts in the forums. It continues to be a problem and users need to be aware of precautions they should take when encountering forum spam posts (do not click on links or attachments). Report any spam to a Forums Administrator," she says.

Read more about Forum Spam at Wikipedia and take advantage of CalamityJane's expertise in the Lavasoft Support Forums today.

Tech Tips
If you have received e-mails that are just filled with gibberish, but do not require you to click on anything, they are designed to get you to mark them as spam and confuse your Bayesian spam filter (uses statistical methods to classify messages as spam). It may be wise to use your web mail account to delete all junk mail before opening up Outlook or Outlook Express.

Letter to the Editor
This is the first newsletter (December Lavasoft News) that I have received from you and it's very informative. Thanks for all of the new info.
There's so much out there that you don't know who to believe. You seem to put it in some order.

Thanks
Maryann Garrett
Rison, Arkansas, USA

Lavasoft AB
Lilla Bommen 1
411 04 Gothenburg
Sweden

www.lavasoft.com
editor@lavasoft.com

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