Sunday, 04 August, 2002

Hotmail Gets A Billion Spams a Day?

The Houston Chronicle is running a three-part series of articles on spam.  No, not the delicious Hormel treat, but the trash email that we all know and love.   Most of us probably already know what's in the linked article, although I found this paragraph to be incredible:

On a typical day, Hotmail subscribers collectively receive more than 1 billion pieces of junk e-mail. Such spam accounts for 80 percent of messages received -- not including mail blocked by Hotmail's first line of filters. 

80% of delivered mail on Hotmail is spam?  I wonder what percentage of incoming mail gets blocked by the first line of filters.

Hotmail is perhaps an extreme example.  As one of the largest (if not the largest) email provider, it's a perfect target for spammers who use dictionary attacks.  They'll just send mail to "jim@hotmail.com", "jim1@hotmail.com", "jim2@hotmail.com", etc.  Mail to invalid addresses simply falls into the bit bucket.  And emails that are read typically have a fake image link that lets the spammers know that they've found a valid email address.

It's frustrating to watch and listen as people fight with this problem, when there are perfectly reasonable and easily implemented alternatives that will virtually eliminate spam.  But people resist change, and would rather complain about an unpleasant situation than cause themselves some short-term inconvenience in order to solve the problem.  So now I just sigh and shake my head.