“Stopping spam [using Bayesian filtering] is a bit like trying to stop the rain by catching every drop before it hits the ground.”
You had me at hello, Michael Specter.
If you want a well written, literary non-fiction description of the worldwide spam problem, Michael Specter at the New Yorker serves one up this week.
Specter takes the productivity angle with when looking at spam:
If a billion spam messages elude detection every day—which means that ninety-nine per cent do not—that adds up to a hundred and fifty-nine years of collective time lost hitting the delete button every day.
Not to mention sore fingers….
Additionally, Specter shows how little legislation has helped us dig out of our collective spam problem.
In the year after the law was enacted (2003), less than seven per cent of spam complied with the requirements of the legislation, according to MX Logic, an Internet-security firm. Last year, compliance with the law never even reached one per cent.
A great summary of where we are and where we’ve been, but Brad Taylor, spam czar of Google sums most anti-spam software up best:
“But I wanted to fix the problem and return to the bliss that existed before spam,’’ he said. “Often the fight is fun, like a game. But last year there were some low points. We started getting these image spams, and the spammer would adapt to anything we did. He would write software that cut the image into little pieces that reassembled by the time you opened your mail. When we figured out how to deal with that, he started making text that waved around and curved in odd ways. So we figured that out. Then he started with random images.’’ Taylor laughed. “This went on for a while. But, finally, he just gave up. And that’s our hope. It’s kind of like war. One side eventually gets tired. And we just can’t let it be us.”
To you and me, that sounds a heck of lot like an arms race. I’m glad we’re aiming a little higher than tit for tat in the war on spam.