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."