Leo, we all have the problem with loads of spam, which not only annoys us,
but costs us in download charges. Most spam comes in mass messages forwarded to
great numbers of people. To stop or to slow spam, is there no possibility of
reversing the email charges so that instead of recipients paying for downloads
the senders are charged as a per-address basis as uploads? This would take edge
off their businesses.
In this excerpt from
Answercast #51, I look at the difficulties in tracing spam back to its
origin in an attempt to stop it.
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In theory, what you’re saying would work, except we don’t know who the
spammers are. In a very real sense, when an email message gets sent by a
spammer, there really is no specific and easy way to say, “This is the account
of the spammer that should be charged.” There just isn’t.
Spammers use so many different ways of spoofing and faking and falsifying
where the email is actually coming from, there is no legitimate or reasonable
way for us to trace it back to a spammer who would pay for it.
And in fact, you’re absolutely right.
If the spammers were forced to pay, spam would disappear overnight because
the whole point of spam is that it can be sent out for effectively free to
millions and millions of people. If even only a small percentage of those
millions and millions of people fall for the spam (or purchase the product or
do whatever), then it becomes profitable.
But unfortunately, there is simply no way to attribute spam to a specific
place that would get charged. There just isn’t.
Where does spam come from?
Think about it. So, often the spam that you get actually comes from
addresses of people that you know. They may not have sent it. You don’t want to
charge them, but the spammers have forged the “From” address.
Even the information in the email headers that will supposedly trace back
the spam to a specific server can be faked.
And in fact, even when it’s not, zombie networks (individuals’ machines) can
be infected with botnets, which means it could be your machine that’s
actually sending out the spam!
If the spam were to get traced back to you, would you pay? I don’t think so
and that’s the whole point. What we want is the spammers to pay.
Through a lot of detective work, many organizations are able to trace out
large botnets or large spam-sending organizations.
Not through tracing individual emails back to their source, but through
tracing millions and millions of emails back to common sources and the
sources of botnets that are on infected machines.
But it’s a way more complicated endeavor to trace spam back to its
origination – through its true origination; through its true spammers who are
sending it; than something like a simple charge would require.
Next from Answercast 51 – Word’s Save-As menu disappeared. How to I repair it?