Sep 152004

Spam: Crisis, or Approaching Denoument?

Spam: Crisis, or Approaching Denoument?

A few interesting comments on this front today. Fred says the crisis is over, everyone should just calm down. Pamela says spam filtering technology is getting really good now. And I had lunch with Saul Hansell from The New York Times today, who thinks that authentication will make a monumental difference.

[For those of you who read OnlyOnce and aren’t super technical, authentication is the newest trend that ISPs are starting to employ to snuff out spammers. In a nutshell, it’s a technology like Caller ID that lets an ISP verify who’s sending the mail so they can shut it down if the mailer is clearly a bad guy (or someone who blocks Caller ID).]

I’m not sure as Fred says the crisis is over — but I think it’s on the way to being minimized. And Pamela’s right — filters like Cloudmark are pretty darn effective. Things like that just need to be rolled out to broader audiences. And Pamela’s also right that mailers will have to work on managing their identity and reputation in order to cope with new technologies like authentication and beyond. That’s a posting for another day.

But before we declare victory, let’s remember two things:

– First, these things take a LONG time to trickle down to a broad enough audience to say “problem solved.” I mean YEARS.

– Second, the bad guys aren’t going to give up without a fight. This is war! They’ll be back and they’ll find us. They’ll get better at avoiding filters, and they’ll infiltrate things like authentication and exploit loopholes in CAN-SPAM and other legislation. Remember, spam’s economics still work.

So I’m happy to say Spam isn’t still in Crisis Mode, but it’s not resolved either — how about Approaching Denoument?