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Re: surge in spam email (fwd)

  • From: Greg A. Woods
  • Date: Thu Aug 10 18:59:30 2000

[ On Thursday, August 10, 2000 at 15:59:25 (-0400), Barry Shein wrote: ]
> Subject: Re: surge in spam email (fwd)
> I'm not really trying to be too sarcastic, but I think your world-view
> of what the net has become is anachronistic and the idea that some
> project like ORBS is going to harass every open-relay in the world,
> every workstation capable of forwarding mail for example, into
> behaving better is at this point in time kinda like the Chinese
> footstool tidal wave (is that from Dr Strangelove? whatever.)

Ah, but you don't have to harass every open relay -- just enough to get
the message across (and in the mean time to keep the spammers at bay).
The problem with leaving the teeth out of a system like ORBS is that
it's like preaching to the choir -- you never get your message across to
the people who can actually do something about the situation.

Of course I have to say "everybody" because otherwise nobody'll jump.
The trick is to get enough of the big fish to jump -- the rest will be
caught in the wave!  OK, now, on the count of "three":  "One"....  ;-)

> No, we need a legislative approach, with some technical support to
> help increase the likelihood that spammers who break the law will get
> caught. But first it has to be illegal, or else it's all for naught.

Well, relayed spam is likely already illegal, perhaps several times over
if the spammer is stupid enough to commit one or more of several often
used frauds at the same time.  The problem is in getting the right party
to complain officially, and of course dealing with the jurisdictional
issues.  The proof is certainly easy enough to come by in the vast
majority of cases, even without the co-operation of the abused system's

These issues, along with the fact that a significant portion of spammers
are already off-shore, especially for us Canadians, are why I think a
technical solution is the only real solution that'll ever stand a chance
of success in the long run.

> Put it this way: I consider my house locked up even if I do have glass
> windows, and even if glass is rather easy to break.
> If it were legal for a person of ill intent to break the glass to get
> into my house to rob me the first approach would not in my mind be to
> board up all the glass unless I really lived in some mad max anarchy.
> I'd first want to see it made illegal to break into my property.

So, since it's already illegal for someone to steal services from
another, why do so many mailers continue to leave their doors wide open,
even during a storm?  Shouldn't they at least install a screen door and
pretend to latch the hook on it?  ;-)

> Then, with reasonable diligence, I can enjoy the sunshine and spend my
> time and money on more important things than trying to engineer it so
> it's impossible to break in.

oddly enough fixing most open relays is actually cheaper (and some might
even argue easier!) than installing an old broom handle in your patio
doors!  ;-)
The trick is to get the patio door makers to install a physical block in
the first place, and then of course even trickier is the problem of
getting existing patio door users to install a new set of secure doors.
Luckily in the software world it doesn't have to cost quite so much to
do such upgrades.

							Greg A. Woods

+1 416 218-0098      VE3TCP      <[email protected]>      <robohack!woods>
Planix, Inc. <[email protected]>; Secrets of the Weird <[email protected]>