Microsoft v. Spam

This morning I heard a piece on Morning Edition about how Microsoft is claiming they will eliminate spam in the next 24 months [Update: corrected the minor fact that two years is 24 months, not 48]. Riiiiiiight. Kind of like their “security initiative” of a few years ago, when “security became their top priority.” How’d that turn out? Oh, they are no more secure and now these virii and worms leave trojan programs behind that make Microsoft machines sources of spam. We’re supposed to believe that they are willing and able to completely solve this problem, when they’ve been unable to solve any particular problem of recent times despite having the largest warchest of resources to apply. From what I heard, their ideas now are highly sub-wonderful – challenge-and-response and/or the old postmark/debit idea. I do believe that we all understand that spam will never be eliminatable until there is a successor protocol to SMTP that involves trust relationships. Until then, any other tactic is subject to the arms race. No matter what impediment is added, there will be some solution from the spammer end. When spammers are clever enough to trick pr0n seekers into solving the challenges there will never be a solution via adding in a “step easy for a human but computationally complex for a computer” as Ryan Hamlin suggested on the radio.

How about this Microsoft – instead of trying to alter the mail landscape, focus first on cleaning up your own buggy piece of crap products so that your customers are not unwittingly used to spam everyone else? I’d say start there before trying to kludge together half-assed lamebrain mail hacks.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father.