Thursday, December 21, 2006

A True History of the Internet

The Wicker Man and the Spam Men

(I say men as I cannot believe that a class act like women, would ever do something as nefarious as spam).

So there are zillions of people trying to become famous and save the world by finding a solution to the spam problem. I am already more famous than I want to be, so the reason I am suggesting this solution is to stop people patenting it and charing you for it.

The idea is this:

Spammers have to harvest lists of e-mail addresses. This is abottleneck as it takes time, although once you have them, you get to use them a lot. Some spammers even target e-mail quite well by getting other info from the e-mail address context (location, web page, institution, etc).

Users want e-mail, with all its warts -the ability to send a message to someone who hasn't heard of you appears to be appealing. (Some people have moved off e-mail to chat rooms and IM where the invitation only process prohibits mass misuse much more effectively - we'll leave them to their success).

So here goes. What if I change my e-mail once a day? once an hour? once a minute?

Oh, you cry. what about all those people who have my _old_ email address in their address book?

No problem, I respond. If they have it in an address book, and they send me a message to my old e-mail address I can do one of several things.
1. i probably have old e-mail from them, or they are in my address book - so I just take the mail and send them a response with my new address (standard tools already support change of address stuff.
ii. if i want to reduce load on my mail server as well as reduce reception of spam, I could pro-actively tell everyone in my address book each time I change my address.

What if the spammers harverst address books? They alerady do, but it takes time.
What if they use exploited machines address books? Well, I won't turn off my current spam technology, so when I get spam from someone who should know better, I delete them from my address book, and wait for them to get my new e-mail address.

How do people get my new e-mail address?
Easy: I publish it on my web page. This is cool, because it means that in a year, I could publish 525600 different e-mail addresses, only one of which will work in any given minute.
The spammers have now hadd their spam dilulted by 5-6 orders of magnitude.


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misery me, there is a floccipaucinihilipilification (*) of chronsynclastic infundibuli in these parts and I must therefore refer you to frank zappa instead, and go home