GREATEST CHALLENGE FOR 2003
by: Cary Christian
You know, I just don't understand how so many people can't see the forest
for the trees.
A lot of people do not like the topic I'm going to discuss tonight, but it
is something we all have to deal with every day and it's only going to get
worse unless something is done soon.
The amount of spam I receive on a daily basis has grown dramatically in the
last few months. I'm sure it's the same with most of you. And it's not only
the amount that's a problem. The fight between spammers and the anti-sp^m
groups is getting nastier day by day. And you and I are caught in the
Now don't go away just yet! This is not some article telling you about all
the tools you can use to fight spam. Instead, I want to deal with the crux
of the problem and talk about how we can nip it in the bud once and for all.
It's an important topic. We either deal with it and find a solution or we
will all suffer greatly. Let's just take a look at a few things that are
being done and let me give you my take on why they don't and won't work.
1. Filters - I'm sorry, but what a crock! The person who ever dreamed
filters would solve the problem just has no conception of how ingenious a
determined spammer can be. The filtering methodologies are even published
for goodness sake. Someone can simply study how the filters work and defeat
them all day long. If they're too lazy to study, there are a number of
services a planned email campaign can be run through to "cleanse" it to make
sure it makes it through. Filters will never work, period. The proof? We
have more filters in place now than you can count and the amount of sp^m
just keeps increasing. Geometrically! Legitimate business emails get
filtered, sp^m gets through.
2. Habeus - Worse than filters, my friends! The people who gave us
filters are now putting forth a scheme to charge us for allowing our email
to get through them. And who is joining them? Large companies who want to
take the Internet back from small business. Trust me: the large corporations
are extremely happy with this Habeus deal. YOU should not be! You need to
stand up against it now. And again, anyone who doesn't think the spammers
won't find a way to forge the Habeus headers is just dreaming. You and I
will pay, the spammers won't, and the problem will just keep getting worse.
3. Legislation - I've never really seen legislation solve this type
of problem. I think it's inevitable, but I doubt we'll like it very much.
The Internet as we know it today was born with freedom of expression as its
cornerstone. As layer after layer of legislation is added, the Internet will
become more like any other communication medium and will lose a great deal
of its character. And the spammers still won't be fazed. You think they
won't spam just because it's illegal? You really think the government is
going to put enough enforcement effort behind prosecuting a spammer to make
it work? Come on, folks. Government has bigger fish to fry. They're not
going to take resources away from finding kidnapped children to prosecute a
The whole spam issue has generated a lot of profits for people involved in
the so-called fight against it. People who create the filters and the people
who created Habeus have no real stake in stamping out spam. They stand to
profit from it. Why should they eliminate it?
So what, then, do we do?
The answer is so amazingly simple.
When law enforcement works to solve a crime, often the motive of the
criminal in committing the crime is an important element in solving the
crime. Without a motive, the crime would likely not be committed. What is
the motive behind the spammer's crime?
They profit from it!
How do they profit from it?
They profit from it because even people who say they hate sp^m will
occasionally see something they're interested in and they will actually buy
something from a spam email. That's what keeps them going. That's the ONLY
thing that keeps them going.
The spammer is content to rely on a tiny response rate to make his or her
profit. They buy a million addresses for under a hundred bucks and mail day
and night knowing that if only a tiny, tiny fraction of the people they mail
to actually buy something it will have been worthwhile. And people do buy.
Ask yourself what would happen if no one bought from a spam email. Do you
think anyone in their right mind is going to spend hours every day sending
out email if their return on their investment of time and money is zero?
These are very bad or very misguided people, but they're not necessarily
stupid. If it doesn't work, they will stop. Plain and simple.
So do you really want to stop sp^m? Then don't buy from spammers. Tell
everyone you know not to buy from them. If you run an ezine, tell your
subscribers. Put the message on your site somewhere. You can use this
article if you want. Make the phrase "Don't buy from spammers!" a mantra
that gets repeated throughout the Internet.
Spammers can avoid filters, forge headers, hide their identities, they can
even make it look like their sp^m came from YOUR website if they want. But
they cannot and will not continue a pattern of behavior that is no longer
profitable for them. So let's do our part to make it so.
That's all it takes.
Copyright (c) 2003, Cary Christian
Peak Small Business Center -
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