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Spam The Internet

Despite Gates' Prediction, Spam Far From a Thing of the Past 198

Posted by timothy
from the still-delicious-after-all-these-years dept.
Slatterz writes "Bill Gates declared in 2004 at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland that spam would be 'a thing of the past' within five years. However, Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, has written in a blog post that 'with the prophecy's five-year anniversary approaching, spam continues to cause a headache for companies and home users.'"
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Despite Gates' Prediction, Spam Far From a Thing of the Past

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  • I disagree... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chabo (880571) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @06:05PM (#26567543) Homepage Journal
    I would contend that for the average user, spam is essentially a non-issue nowadays. IT departments still have to do quite a bit of work, but all that work means that the average amount of spam a user sees is nearing zero.
    • Re:I disagree... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Rewind (138843) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @06:07PM (#26567567) Homepage

      I agree with this both as an IT worker and an email user. A bunch of junk still comes in, but I rarely ever see spam anymore on my gmail or work email. I have an old yahoo account from around 97 that still gets some in, but even there, not much.

      • but not about Yahoo. Of course, it could be due to how I use the two accounts. I use GMail *ONLY* for friends and family. I use Yahoo for all my purchases.

        Yahoo by far gets more spam, and frankly, I don't think their filtering is nearly as good as GMail's.

        • by eln (21727) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @06:25PM (#26567781) Homepage

          I've had my Yahoo account since at least 1996, and have used it in many a web form. I get hundreds upon hundreds of spams a day to that address, but only one or two a day actually show up in my Inbox. All the rest are relegated to the spam folder. I consider that a very good success rate.

          • by Idiomatick (976696) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @06:34PM (#26567919)

            I've gotten 2 spam mails since i switched to gmail a few years ago.
            The summary is so negative, spam is pretty much gone, gates wasn't far off the mark at all.

            • by techno-vampire (666512) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @07:12PM (#26568419) Homepage
              It all depends on how you look at it. As an end-user of email, you're right. Almost no spam gets into the inbox on my gmail account. Some gets through the filters on my POP3 accounts, though, but most of that gets caught by the filters in Thunderbird. However, I'd bet that the people running and maintaining mail servers at ISPs wouldn't agree with you because spam is probably wasting at least as much of their bandwidth as ever. We don't see it because their filters have gotten pretty good, but then, the time, CPU cycles, memory and disk space needed for those programs adds, slightly, to the cost of business of every provider, as does that bandwidth I mentioned above. I'd bet that if spam were to "softly and silently vanish away, and never be seen again," our monthly ISP fees would drop.
              • by Baton Rogue (1353707) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @07:26PM (#26568545)
                If you read Bill Gates' original prediction [bbc.co.uk], he said that spam would be killed through the electronic equivalent of a stamp, also known as "payment at risk". This means that if an email gets marked as spam, then the sender will be billed for a cost whenever they send a spam email. He didn't say that users would not have to deal with spam, he said that spam would simply not exist altogether. This most certainly did not happen, so he was completely wrong in his prediction.
              • I'm sure it doesn't cost more than a few cents a month which i doubt will affect my price.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Synn (6288)

              I've gotten 2 spam mails since i switched to gmail a few years ago.
              The summary is so negative, spam is pretty much gone, gates wasn't far off the mark at all.

              If spam isn't an issue anymore, then you won't mind publicly posting your email address.

          • by Korin43 (881732)
            I can't remember the last time I got spam in my Gmail account. I vaguely remember it happening, but not recently enough that I remember it. If you're getting 2 spams a day you should seriously reconsider your email provider.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by cheater512 (783349)

              I get 2 spam in my inbox every day with gmail.

              Mind you I have seen up to 40,000 spam from the last 30 days in my Spam box.

        • by iamhigh (1252742)
          Same experience here (and I use them for the same purpose). I have rarely seen spam in gmail. about 10 a day in yahoo.
        • Yahoo by far gets more spam, and frankly, I don't think their filtering is nearly as good as GMail's.

          So you auto-forward your Yahoo messages to Gmail and then set Gmail to allow you to reply from Yahoo as needed. I've done this with a bunch of ISP and hosted accounts (but not Yahoo) and it works very well.

      • The false positives generated by GMail's spam filtering don't piss you off in the least? Not even the fact that you have no direct personal control over the process at all? Nor the fact that, unlike other services like Yahoo, you can't effectively disable it by passing it through, allowing you to use your own more tuned and effective local spam filtering solution (i.e. PopFile)? Nor the fact that GMail gives you no control over the auto-deletion process, and you are forced to check the folder for false p

        • by Tacvek (948259) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @09:02PM (#26569385) Journal

          The false positives generated by GMail's spam filtering don't piss you off in the least? Not even the fact that you have no direct personal control over the process at all? Nor the fact that, unlike other services like Yahoo, you can't effectively disable it by passing it through, allowing you to use your own more tuned and effective local spam filtering solution (i.e. PopFile)?

          It is easy to bypass the spam system, but the way to do it is not obvious. Create a new filter, with just an asterisk in the has the words field. That ensures the filter applies to all messages, even a sender-less, subject-less, body-less email. Then on the actions page select "Never send it to Spam". Apply the filter. Now the spam filtering is bypassed, and no messages will ever end up in the spam folder.

          • by macraig (621737)

            I'm embarrassed I didn't notice that possibility, since I have half a dozen filters I've created. Thanks for sharing that! Begone, false positives!

            [Runs off to reinstall PopFile for first time in years...]

    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @06:10PM (#26567607)
      If you had a Verifiable College Degree from an Authentic University, then more women would listen to your opinions and you'd get MORE ACTION.
      Why spend hours studying for a degree when you can call 1-800-IMAGRADUATE and get College, Masters or even DOCTORATE Degrees within One WEEK!!!
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Dr. Hellno (1159307)
        at least that one has some kind of logical thread to it. I'm honestly mystified by most of the subject lines in my spam folder. Just recently I received the cryptically titled "Is Your Boner A Loner When You Are With Her?"

        What is that even supposed to mean? Is it for guys with anti-social dongs? Is there an epidemic of this sweeping the nation that I was previously unaware of?
    • by Jurily (900488)

      the average amount of spam a user sees is nearing zero.

      Try using freemail.hu, you insensitive clod!

    • by damn_registrars (1103043) * <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @06:54PM (#26568185) Homepage Journal

      I would contend that for the average user, spam is essentially a non-issue nowadays.

      Just because they don't see it doesn't mean it doesn't cost them. The users have to pay (indirectly) for the cost of the spam traversing the internet, the CPU time for their spam filter to identify and dispose of it, the server space to store it, and the IT employees to refine the filters to acceptable levels of false positives and false negatives.

      Just because the users don't see the spam in their inbox doesn't mean it has no impact on them.

      • Yes, I agree with you. Saying "spam is essentially a non-issue nowadays," followed directly by, "IT departments still have to do quite a bit of work," seems a little crazy. If keeping spam out of users' mailboxes requires a decent amount of time and effort from IT people, then it's not a non-issue.

        Further, I still see spam coming to pretty much every mail account I see. I have a couple different Gmail accounts, and they all get spam. I know seems to think that Google's spam filtering is perfect, but I

      • by mcrbids (148650)

        Yeah, but the cost of this really is rather low.

        I run a corporate mail server, and it's my job to combat spam. Our email addresses are simple: firstname@domain.com, and they are widely circulated. I see probably 5 or so spam per day, certainly not enough to be problematic, and my first name is very, very common.

        On our mail servers, we subscribe to a couple of RBLs and use greylisting. That combination drops about 98% of the spam with basically zero false positives and almost no system administration at all.

    • Re:I disagree... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DaMattster (977781) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @06:56PM (#26568203)

      Make that strongly disagree. Spam is even more of a problem. Bill Gates should most likely not try to become the Nostradamus of the Internet because the problem is even more rampant. The problem is, we are combatting spam in the wrong way. Legally, the CAN SPAM Act is pointless. We need to make spam an uneconomical way of marketing and advertising. Spam filtration does not fight back because it does nothing to address the inexpensive economics of spamming. The only really effective method for fighting back has been developed by The OpenBSD Project. They have a spam deferral daemon that literally takes the wind right out of the spammer's sails. If a spammer attempts to send mail to an OpenBSD Spamd enabled machine, they are only able to send at 1 byte per second. This causes no problem for the reciever but could potentially wreck havoc on the spammer causing large queue backups and potentially crashing the spammer's server. That is a fight!

      Finally, Bob Beck of the project creates and maintains a list of IP addresses of any machine that has attempted to send spam in the past 24 hours to the University of Alberta. This list is freely available to all. If more people took advantage of OpenBSD's Spamd and Bob's list, it'll be a TKO for the spammers.

      • And the spammer quickly sets up his net to abort after a few seconds and move on to the next sucker who isn't using OpenBSD. And which, BTW, still only works IF you know from the IP or the first few bytes that the incoming email is spam.

        And IP lists like Bob's can screw with mail systems because just one infected machine at a business or ISP can drop-kick any and all legitimate mail sent from the gateway IP address. One can obviously TKO all spam by TKO'ing ALL incoming email, spam or not. Unfortunately, th

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Baton Rogue (1353707)
          The majority of all spam comes from home computers infected with a worm that makes it part of a botnet. The fact that some mail servers can slow down the sending of mail is not the solution. If ISPs were to block all SMTP connections from their DSL/cable customers, that would put a huge dent in the amount of spam. Most people get their email through some sort of webmail based system so there is really no need for people to be sending legitimate emails via SMTP. And for the ones that like to have their
          • by jonwil (467024)

            If all ISPs blocked port 25 from inside their residential connection network (i.e. preventing anyone running a mail server inside the network) it would shut out most of the zombies. Especially if corporations and universities followed suit and blocked email from coming out except from approved mail servers.

            Corporations can go further and block all SMTP traffic from going into/out of their network unless it comes from the approved corporate mail servers.

            For bots that try to send email through the approved em

        • Let's just say I set it up in my father's business and it rid us of 100% of SPAM without filtration. We have 0 false positives. I don't see how the spammers can adapt. The chances of you being the first recipient of a spam message are so incredibly small that a simple blacklist based on Bob Beck's traplist is good enough. Less than a tenth of a percent of the daily volume of email event make it to the grey lister.
          • by shmlco (594907)

            "Let's just say I set it up in my father's business and it rid us of 100% of SPAM without filtration. We have 0 false positives."

            IF you set it up and IF it rids you of spam and IF you have no false positives and IF you don't end up blocking ANY legitimate mail... THEN, I suppose, it's a good deal.

            IF, however, a simple IP blacklist or delay system were foolproof and 100% effective, THEN don't you think we'd have implemented it by now?

            "The chances of you being the first recipient of a spam message are so incr

      • by ozbird (127571) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @07:22PM (#26568509)

        Bill Gates should most likely not try to become the Nostradamus of the Internet because the problem is even more rampant.

        I can't imagine why... "The Internet? We are not interested in it" -- Bill Gates, 1993

      • ... sending in special forces trained hit squads once we identify the spammers!

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Its still an issue as it wastes bandwidth and storage. Its a hidden issue that is choking a lot of ISP's and corporate email systems, raising costs.

    • by treat (84622)

      I would contend that for the average user, spam is essentially a non-issue nowadays. IT departments still have to do quite a bit of work, but all that work means that the average amount of spam a user sees is nearing zero.

      I agree with this both as an IT worker and an email user. Email that reaches our site is approx 99% spam (up from ~95% a few years ago). That's what is filtered by our email gateway, and has a virtually zero false-positive rate (I have never caught a false positive).

      Unfortunately, so much spam slips through that I have to send all Internet mail to a spam folder I can't ever check because it gets too much mail. So my work email is for internal work email only, with the occasional whitelisted vendor. People w

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by porkUpine (623110)
        One word: Proofpoint.
        We spent about $50K on these boxes (cluster) and our spam levels have gone to %0.0001. There is maybe one false positive a year. We have 5000 users connected to the system. Spend the money, fire your spam guy and enjoy email again.
        • by Ciggy (692030)
          And who is going to provide the money for this?

          The spamvertisers? (who use spam)
          Microsoft? (Most spam comes from infected Windows boxes and they've known about the virus problm since pre-Windows days and should have done something about it in the NT kernels at least)
          Bill Gates? (Put his money where hs mouth is)
    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      The problem with Spam is that it won't disappear, it will just change to adapt to the filters and find new annoying ways to get through.

      The only way to get rid of spam is to get rid of the spammers permanently.

  • The funny thing is (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 22, 2009 @06:06PM (#26567557)

    Most of this spam comes from bot-nets made of Windows computers that have been taken over.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Sloppy (14984)

      BTW, parent is on-topic. The reason Gates thought spam would end [bbc.co.uk] wasn't tech, it was economics:

      But ultimately, Mr Gates predicted, spam would be killed through the electronic equivalent of a stamp, also known as "payment at risk".

      This would force the sender of an e-mail to pay up when an e-mail was rejected as spam, but would not deter senders of real e-mail because they could be confident that their mail would be accepted.

      Thanks to Gates' companies' OS and apps being unusually friendly to people who wan

  • What's that?

    I have this one folder in GMail called spam... I don't go there much, the grammar is nonsensical and the products are out-competed by the text-based advertising.

    • Re:Spam? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @06:23PM (#26567759)
      Spam is the reason I have a gmail account. When I first got an e-mail address I was using a small ISP and spam didn't even exist. After 12 years of using the same e-mail address that thing is about 90% spam. I couldn't find an e-mail client capable of cleaning it and my ISPs filters were useless. Finally I caved and just started consolidating it all in gmail and letting gmail do the filtering for me. So, yes, spam is still a huge problem if you're not using gmail or a work e-mail where all the work is being done for you.
    • by Sancho (17056) *

      Ooh, Barracuda....

      I've heard horror stories of Barracuda boxes falling over due to the overwhelming amounts of spam.

      • Yeh, I wouldn't touch them with a 10' pole.

        Even good old WatchGuard are pretty shit (and forget getting a support contract with them, they almost never deliver). SpamAssasin on a *nix box works a LOT better if you can figure out how to configure it. :D

        Or you could just use Google services... cheaper to run and much less of a headache.

  • At my previous work email, I saw about one spam per month get through the filter. In terms of "false positives", I had a two or three in a one year period.

    At my current work email (here for six months), I have not received any spam nor have I had any false positives when I've checked the spam folder.

    For my Yahoo account, I get about one spam message missing the filter per week and my spam folder is completely full. I get about one false positive a month.

    For my Hotmail account, I get about one spam
    • I dunno how you only get 1 piece of spam a month on Hotmail... possibly due to not using it for MSN msgr. I get about 1 every few hours... thus why I don't use it for email.

      As far as false positives, well, yes, Hotmail/MSN are terrible for this. Yet another reason not to use it.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @06:17PM (#26567681)

    He made that prediction on January 24, 2004 - and it's only January 22nd now. So he's got two more days...

    • by Coopjust (872796)
      Bill will call Ballmer tonight and tell him to "execute order 66".

      On the morning of January 24th, 2009, hundreds of botnet controllers and spammers will be found dead. All will have died from brute force trauma, with no weapons or clues...other than a broken chair at each crime scene...
    • by Culture20 (968837)
      Get your Linux install CDs handy. Bill might know something about Windows and 2009/01/23 or 2009/01/24 that we don't.
  • Really? (Score:5, Informative)

    by pushing-robot (1037830) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @06:20PM (#26567735)

    I've slowly switched all my email accounts (business and personal) over to Gmail, and I almost never have to deal with spam anymore.

    I still get a fair number of advertising emails from companies I've placed orders from, but they all provide the ability to unsubscribe.

    The only people I know still drowning in spam are the ones who are clinging to some ancient ISP-provided address, or who have a poorly managed company mail server.

    If those people would simply find a decent email provider, the spammers' market would dry up and spam might become a "thing of the past" once and for all. But for now there's no reason you can't switch to a decent email provider and forget about spam today.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Daehenoc (233724)

      If those people would simply find a decent email provider, the spammers' market would dry up and spam might become a "thing of the past" once and for all. But for now there's no reason you can't switch to a decent email provider and forget about spam today.

      The only way for the spammers' market to dry up would be if THEY STOPPED GETTING REPLIES to the messages they send out now. They still get replies to some (single digit percent?) of the messages they send out, and that makes them money. So they keep fighting (successfully!) against the majority of the Internet population and sending out new spam messages and keep trying to defeat anti-spam measures.

      The spammers aren't the problem, the people who reply to spam are the problem.

      • by thogard (43403)

        The people running the spaming operating get paid by the idiots who find some cheap "op in email marketing company". The guys sending the email out get paid even if the replay rate is 0.

        • Yes, but...

          Nobody getting spam in inbox => nobody replying to spam => no ROI for email marketing company => no paycheck for spammer => no more spam.

          • by thogard (43403)

            When there are billions of people around the world that get a new business idea and hunt for a way to market it, there will always be spamers willing to take their cash even if every web page in they read says its a bad idea. How many people send their cash off to Nigeria every day?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Teckla (630646)

      The only people I know still drowning in spam are the ones who are clinging to some ancient ISP-provided address, or who have a poorly managed company mail server.

      I have an ISP email account and a Gmail account. I only use my ISP email account for things like registering with amazon.com or my bank, because if my Gmail account password is hacked or stolen, I'm screwed. If my ISP email account password is hacked or stolen, at least I can call my ISP and have the password reset.

      This issue seems like a big problem with web based email: no recourse if your account password is compromised.

  • Really. When I re-joined my old company I received a bunch of spam at first; however, within a week I'd weeded it out. Maybe they mean "spam for the layperson is still a serious issue if they fail to use a spam prevention method..." ;)

  • Incentive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by isBandGeek() (1369017) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @06:23PM (#26567753)
    Where there is an financial incentive to spam (there are those dumb people that click on the v1@9r@ ads, believe it or not), there will be spam.
  • by Drewmon (815043) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @06:30PM (#26567869)
    Our Barracuda gateway, in about two years of use, processed about 10 million messages. Of which just under 3.8 percent are deemed real. This is for an office of about 50 active users at any point in time. Of the messages that funnel through the 'Cuda, I get about two dozen annually that are daft enough to fool the gateway's checks. Conversely, I get no false positives. So the 'Cuda does its job well, but end users have no idea what goes on to make their mail client less encumbered and full of their personal junk. Spam blows. As does any prediction Mr. Gates may ever front...
    • Every one of those 96.2% junk emails that hit your 'Cuda gateway has one thing in common: A hyperlink to the spammers website. Every single one. Otherwise, how could anyone be able to buy their v1@9r@? What if your 'Cuda just send an opt-out email to the website for every spam. Imagine that. Slashdotted by their own botnets! Might change the economic equation somewhat.

      Spammers wouldn't be able to take down your 'Cuda since there would be thousands of others doing the same thing. They could try to in

  • Wow.. Go Bill! Way to predict Gmail's success!
  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @06:35PM (#26567927) Homepage

    Bill Gates advocates a

    (X) technical ( ) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

    approach to fighting spam. His idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to his particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

    ( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
    (X) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
    ( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
    (X) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
    ( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
    (X) Users of email will not put up with it
    ( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
    ( ) The police will not put up with it
    (X) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
    ( ) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
    ( ) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
    ( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
    ( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

    Specifically, his plan fails to account for

    ( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
    (X) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
    (X) Open relays in foreign countries
    ( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
    (X) Asshats
    ( ) Jurisdictional problems
    ( ) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
    ( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
    (X) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
    ( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
    ( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
    (X) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
    (X) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
    (X) Extreme profitability of spam
    ( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
    ( ) Technically illiterate politicians
    (X) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
    ( ) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
    (X) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
    ( ) Outlook

    and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

    (X) Ideas similar to his are easy to come up with, yet none have ever been shown practical
    ( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
    ( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
    ( ) Blacklists suck
    ( ) Whitelists suck
    ( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
    ( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
    ( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
    ( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
    ( ) Sending email should be free
    (X) Why should we have to trust him and his servers?
    (X) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
    (X) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
    ( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
    ( ) I don't want the government reading my email
    (X) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

    Furthermore, this is what I think about him:

    (X) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
    ( ) This is a stupid idea, and he's a stupid person for suggesting it.
    ( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to burn his
    house down!

    • A Technical solution is one that is needed. A good technical solution that takes the low cost economics of spam spewing out of the equation will work better than any law. If you make sending spam expensive and ineffective, it won't happen. You also need a technical solution that fights back. This is why I love OpenBSD Spamd. It does just that!
      • Here's a technical solution. I receive email from a botnet touting v1a@ra. I tunnel back to the infected machine, slip in, and wipe the drive.

        Pretty soon, no more botnet. And we also get a nice little econo-boost from all of those people replacing their antiquated virus-ridden computers, systems, and software.

  • 5 years or 2 years? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CannonballHead (842625) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @06:35PM (#26567931)

    Previous slashdot entry dealing with Gates' predictions. [slashdot.org] It cites two years, not five years, with the spam thing.

    I guess "5" looks like "2" and vice versa, but... :P

  • Naturally (Score:2, Insightful)

    What has been done over the past 5 years to prevent spam from being sent? Nothing, really.

    As I've said before, spam is an economic problem. It won't go away until you remove the economic incentive to send it. Spam is sent out because people can make money by sending it, plain and simple. If something meaningful was done to remove the incentive to send spam, then it would go away.

    But never before then. And you can forget about filters. We have seen ever since the first bayesian filters that spammer
    • As I've said before, spam is an economic problem. It won't go away until you remove the economic incentive to send it. Spam is sent out because people can make money by sending it, plain and simple. If something meaningful was done to remove the incentive to send spam, then it would go away.

      Given that a lot of spam is blasted out by infected PCs, if ISPs implemented a pay-per-bandwidth scheme it might have the side effect of motivating end users to be more conscientious about security. Suddenly getting stu

      • by treat (84622)

        As I've said before, spam is an economic problem. It won't go away until you remove the economic incentive to send it. Spam is sent out because people can make money by sending it, plain and simple. If something meaningful was done to remove the incentive to send spam, then it would go away.

        Given that a lot of spam is blasted out by infected PCs, if ISPs implemented a pay-per-bandwidth scheme it might have the side effect of motivating end users to be more conscientious about security. Suddenly getting stuck with a $200 monthly bill might wake some people up.

        This doesn't do anything to dismantle the economic incentive to send spam; it just might increase the difficulty of assembling large bot nets.

        If I fill a 16GB memory card with my digital camera, and make an offsite backup, should that be as costly as sending 16 million 1kB emails?

        • Yes. Same amount of data, right?

          To your point, though...if something of this nature were ever implemented, I'm almost positive it would involve a relatively large amount of "free" bandwidth before overage charges started to apply. So unless you were uploading 16GB worth of photos every day for an entire month, your usage would probably stay under the limit.

    • by gad_zuki! (70830)

      >What has been done over the past 5 years to prevent spam from being sent?

      SPF, domain keys, new and better RBLs.

      >And you can forget about filters.

      We have already forgotten about filters. Now we just weigh the sending IP against a series of RBL. If they score high enough then its spam and we drop the TCP connection. We dont even receive the entire message. No content filtering at all. Works great. RBLs arent perfect but they are good enough.

  • He also said in the book _The_Road_Ahead_: "The obvious mathematical breakthrough would be development of an easy way to factor large prime numbers." Yeah, we all know what he _meant_ to say, and I believe it was fixed in later editions, but I've still got a hardcover copy of the book with this quote in it.
    From a technical standpoint, the SPAM problem is easy to solve: change the email protocol so that the originator of every message can be positively identified (e.g. assign every mail originator a public
  • The "demise" of spam in the inboxen of the masses has nothing whatsoever to do with the (in)actions His Most High Irrelevancy Sir Billington of Gates, and everything to do with the actual, hard, fucking work of people like the SpamAssassin crew, Spam Cannibal and (gosh) the The Spamhaus Project. May they fuck forever.

    There. I said it. It is done.

  • When there is no money to be made. As long as there are suckers, it will continue.

  • by buddyglass (925859) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @08:42PM (#26569203)

    When I still checked my mail on a BSD machine using pine, I had a complex scheme set up using custom IP filters + SpamAssassin. After all that work, I still had 5 or 6 slip through each day out of approximately 140. Since switching to gmail, maybe one slips through per week.

    Ironically, thanks to google, Gates prediction is largely true. For me, at least. Spam is a complete afterthought.

  • It happened to me some days ago that my ISP refused to send a mail to a mailing list because it was using sender verification just like itself, and it was causing too many errors (because it's actually starting to send a mail before bailing out). It happened today to someone trying to send a mail to my someone on my ISP... It seems this thing doesn't really work both ways :D
  • 640 spam emails a day ought to be enough for anybody.

  • He was off because we were at a bar a few years ago, I was pretty hammered and started talking about how I was a ninja and would kill all spammers within 4 years. I guess he took me seriously. I also suggested he make a new form of windows called vista. Again, I'm sorry. I've learned my lesson and will not go out drinking with that dude anymore.

  • Part of the problem is that we primates are masterful at gaming the system, getting an edge, grabbing a little more gravy for us and ours, at the expense of others. It's literally wired into the genome (if you doubt this, watch our closest primate relatives, and immediately see the unmistakable embryo of our behavior laid bare.)

    Part of developing a civilization that lasts more than a century or two, is becoming clear about who and what we are, and engineering the social systems to responsibly manage the exp

  • I'm shocked!!!

    He was never the tech-industry visionary he wanted everyone to think he was with those grand pronouncements about the future. He always waited to see where everyone else was going, changed course to follow them, and then steamrolled them. Remember, he's the same guy who initially blew off the internet because he thought everyone would flock to MSN. Miss Cleo's predictions carried more weight.

    ~Philly

"It's when they say 2 + 2 = 5 that I begin to argue." -- Eric Pepke

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