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Why We Get Spam

Mark Edwards
31-03-2005

The volume of spam is increasing. As a result, mail filters have to use tighter and tighter standards to stop the flood of spam from drowning legitimate mail. The unfortunate side effect of this is that the rate of false positives increases.



There are many technical reasons why spam is popular and relatively easy to do. These include the open nature of the protocol (SMTP) we use to send email.



As a consequence there are many technical fixes in use or proposed to reduce or eliminate spam. For instance, a new means of verifying that the sender of an email is who they say they are is proposed using the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) which appears to gaining more widespread acceptance.



Bill Gates announced on a recent visit to Australia that spam would be eliminated within the next few years.



I do not believe that the "war on spam" will be won with technical fixes. The main reason why is that spam pays. Spammers continue to send out spam because people respond to the emails and buy the products. Until we stop responding to spam we will continue to see it filling up our inboxes.



I don't see that happening very soon. Sorry Bill.

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