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Networking Spam The Internet

Stopping Spam Before It Hits the Mail Server 157 157

Al writes "A team of researchers at the Georgia Institute for Technology say they have developed a way to catch spam before it even arrives on the mail server. Instead of bothering to analyze the contents of a spam message, their software, called SNARE (Spatio-temporal Network-level Automatic Reputation Engine), examines key aspects of individual packets of data to determine whether it might be spam. The team, led by assistant professor Nick Feamster, analyzed 2.5 million emails collected by McAfee in order to determine the key packet characteristics of spam. These include the geodesic proximity of end mail servers and the number of ports open on the sending machine. The approach catches spam 70 percent of the time, with a 0.3 false positive rate. Of course, revealing these characteristics could also allow spammers to fake their packets to avoid filtering."
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Stopping Spam Before It Hits the Mail Server

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  • RFC 3514 (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @12:35PM (#28868407)

    Problem already solved back in 2003, I don't get any spam now.

  • by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @12:48PM (#28868711)

    So this software functions in both space AND time? Fascinating.

    It's good that they specified that in the name, to avoid questions such as "Will this software work in the universe which we inhabit?"

  • by oldspewey (1303305) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @12:51PM (#28868769)

    what happens when someone tries to contact me out of the blue before I have a chance to white list them?

    Absolutely nothing happens ... at least from your perspective.

  • by crymeph0 (682581) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @01:10PM (#28869125)

    Your post advocates a

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

    approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your 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
    ( ) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
    ( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
    ( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
    (x) 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
    ( ) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
    ( ) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
    (x) 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, your plan fails to account for

    ( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
    ( ) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
    ( ) Open relays in foreign countries
    ( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
    ( ) Asshats
    ( ) Jurisdictional problems
    ( ) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
    ( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
    ( ) 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
    ( ) Extreme profitability of spam
    ( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
    ( ) Technically illiterate politicians
    ( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
    ( ) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
    ( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
    ( ) Outlook

    and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

    ( ) Ideas similar to yours 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
    (x) 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 you and your servers?
    ( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
    ( ) 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
    ( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

    Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

    (x) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
    ( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
    ( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your
    house down!

  • by jammindice (786569) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @01:11PM (#28869137) Homepage
    Your post advocates a

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

    approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your 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
    ( ) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
    ( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
    ( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
    ( X ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
    ( ) Users of email will not put up with it
    ( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
    ( ) The police will not put up with it
    ( ) 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, your plan fails to account for

    ( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
    ( ) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
    ( ) 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
    ( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
    ( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
    ( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
    ( ) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
    ( X ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
    ( ) Extreme profitability of spam
    ( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
    ( ) Technically illiterate politicians
    ( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
    ( X ) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
    ( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
    ( ) Outlook

    and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

    ( X ) Ideas similar to yours 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
    ( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
    ( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
    ( ) 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 you: ( X ) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work. ( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it. ( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your house down!
  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @01:12PM (#28869161) Homepage

    It's easy, really. All you need to do is use a fake address which happens to be exactly the same as your real address.

    It's as simple as closing a user's browser window without using Javascript [thedailywtf.com].

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