Postini Spam Solutions

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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First--not that it's necessary but just to be clear--comes the formal definition of spam, more formally and descriptively known as unsolicited bulk email (UBE). As the federal CAN SPAM Act of 2003 so neatly (for once) put it, "non-solicited pornography and marketing." It is, as anyone using a computer knows too well, a major issue. The proportion of spam has more than doubled in the last few years, and now runs at about 70 to 80 percent of all email traffic.

Solutions to Countering Spam

Ideally, of course, spam would be cut off at the source. While that is technically--at present--essentially a no-go, legally it's not, hence the 2003 legislation. Words on paper might seem a feeble effort. Now that the first convictions under it are decided, however, it may prove the deterrent it was designed to be. One of those found guilty was sentenced to nine years in prison. A second was fined $7,500.

Blacklisting--that is, denying all traffic from a specific IP or sender--is one approach. There are both commercial and proprietary blacklists, and most tend to follow a "guilty until proven innocent" approach. This, of course, is problematic in that it can block legitimate mail. Fingerprinting is a way of filtering email for keywords, either in the body or in headers. Rules-based scoring uses a checklist of criteria to classify a message as spam.

The fact is, however, effective solutions are complex and time consuming. On a corporate or organization level, turning to managed service is more and more common. This is no surprise in light of the approximate $23 billion spam cost the U.S. marketplace in 2003.


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