Monday, April 21, 2008

Delete all you want, we'll make more

I’m curious if anyone knows where these junk emails come from. I can understand people who try to sell stuff getting together a collection of valid email addressed and just mass mailing their ads to a huge market in the hopes of getting a few bites. It’s good business. I’m not one of the biters, but at least I can see the logic of it.

What I don’t understand are the nonsensical emails that I get 20 times per day. What is their purpose? Do they have a purpose? Or is there a 3 year old somewhere that has found their parents mass email account and is just sending out gibberish?

This was my favorite one from today: “Find out what Prescri] ptionz are on sale daily”

I have no idea what Prescri] ptionz are and if I wanted to find out I don’t know how. I suppose I could Google it, but I suspect I wouldn’t find much. Maybe I’d win a million dollars.

The problem stems from SMTP. The S stands for Simple. By propagating SMTP, we have inadvertently created a huge junk email problem. The only way to filter it is at the receiving end. My computer has MS Outlook which does a pretty good job of filtering junk mail. Out of the 40 or so per day, only 1 or sometimes 2 pop into my Inbox. And only 1 or 2 good emails get dropped into my junkmail box.

It’s not really a good solution. Thus you have the “fancy” spammers who come up with funny looking emails that try and slip through the filter. I think this is where the random text comes from. If I spew forth a few hundred random words in my spamilitious emails perhaps I can circumvent the recipient’s flawed filtration system.

You can, of course, set up your account not to accept emails from anyone not in your address book. A good spammer can get past this as well. And, you might inadvertently miss an email from someone who has recently changed their address. Or that old high school friend that you have not heard from in 20 years. Do you really want to hear from them anyway?

The correct answer, I believe, is to fix SMTP. We’ll call it ASMTP (that way we just have to add an A at the front). We’ll call it the Anti-Spam Mail Transfer Protocol. Think of all the packets that would get saved from needless collisions by reducing the amount of “simple mail” on the wire.

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