Wednesday, 05 March, 2003
AOL Trashes a Billion Spam Messages
AOL announced today that its front-line filters trashed a billion spam email messages in a single 24-hour period. That's one billion messages that were canned before they were delivered to subscribers' inboxes, or an average of 28 messages per subscriber. That's an astonishing number. It's interesting to note, though, that AOL's filters have a false positive problem. As the article says: "...an extremely small fraction of messages snagged in AOL's spam filters were legitimate ones." The AOL spokesman declined to give any figures on the false positives. Yes, folks, spam is a real problem. I've noticed an increase here recently, including at least one every day that has the "klez" virus. RoadRunner strips the attachment from those, fortunately.
The Internet Engineering Task Force (www.ietf.org) has finally decided to get involved. They've formed the Anti-Spam Research Group (ASRG) to study the problem and propose solutions. One wonders why the IETF has taken so long to get involved. It's not like spam is a new problem. It looks like they're focusing on a consent-based system which looks like a fancy term for filtering. They do mention the addition of a source tracking component, which I think is necessary for effective spam blocking. Source tracking, of course, makes anonymous email a bit more difficult, so the idea will meet some resistance. It will be interesting to see how this proceeds.