Combatting Spam and Viruses

Considering that I am writing about email and the impact of spam and viruses, it is good to know what Jon Udell does – using a combination of SpamPal, SpamAssassin and SpamBayes.

A broader solution: “There’s been a lot of talk about replacing email with RSS. I don’t buy it. Although I am a huge fan of RSS, and expect it to largely replace email for subscription-related purposes (e.g., mailing lists), I don’t see it as a general solution for ad-hoc person-to-person communication. Nor do I buy the argument that we need to toss SMTP. Obviously, we need to use it in a slightly different way. Of the various proposals floating around, the RMX idea — a DNS-based solution that enables a receiving mail server to verify whether the sender’s IP address is authorized to send from the domain within the sender’s address — seems particularly interesting.”

Business Week’s cover story is on Epidemics. “Combine viruses with the scourge of spam, and you have two heavy anchors dragging on an already sluggish economic ship. Indeed, the virus epidemic may undermine tech’s productivity boost. A new focus on defense could even discourage corporations from making investments in the latest computers and software.”

Adam chimes in: “Email has worn out its utility as a medium. Just as HTTP subsumed FTP (and Gopher!) by becoming wildly popular on the client side by adding some features users wanted, I’m convinced some new protocol will subsume SMTP by becoming wildly popular on the client side by adding some features users need. Automatic whitelists and blacklists and the ability to share who’s considered a spammer with other clients seem to be bare-minimum requirements; auto-classification (and sorting) like POPFile does seems important too. Also useful: a protocol that supports client policy and is easily configurable; auto-extraction of bits like dates and phone numbers and addresses; auto-backups client-side or server-side if desired (better than the lame offline sync mode!); the ability to see a unified view wherever you’re checking your mail from; something like Google search for past mails; and a linking model between from/to’s, subjects, keywords, and dates that makes mail more weblike. And that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head. The revolution is coming. Better PIMs like Chandler are only part of the solution. A new layer-seven protocol that incorporates policy is needed.”

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.