Spam

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Don't Register Your Domain in the U.S. if it's Controversial

In the news lately have been a number of incidents where U.S. courts, or the U.S. government itself has ordered domain registrars to shut down free speech. First was the E360 vs Spamhaus case, in which accused spammer E360 Insight sued anti-spam organization Spamhaus for labeling them as spammers and won by default when Spamhaus insisted that U.S. courts did not have jurisdiction over them in England and didn't appear. Unfortunately, U.S. courts did have jurisdiction over Spamhaus' domain registrar, who was nearly ordered to shut Spamhaus down (a court order was under consideration). Fortunately, Spamhaus was able to move their registration overseas before any shutdown order could be issued... more

Developing Internet Standards: How Can the Engineering Community and the Users Meet?

There is currently a discussion going on between Milton Mueller and Patrik Fältström over the deployment of DNSSEC on the root servers. I think the discussion exemplifies the difficult relation between those who develop standards and those who use them. On the one hand, Milton points out that the way the signing of the root zone will be done will have a great influence on the subjective trust people and nation states will have towards the system. On the other hand, Patrik states that "DNSSEC is just digital signatures on records in this database". Both are right, of course, but they do not speak the same language... more

Oklahoma Spammer Fighter Loses Even Worse

Last December I wrote about Mark Mumma, who runs a small web hosting company in Oklahoma City and his battle with Omega World Travel a/k/a cruise.com. Mumma lost his CAN SPAM suit agains them in December, but Omega's countersuit for defamation went to trial last week, and I hear that the jury awarded Omega $2.5 million in damages, which Mumma is not likely to be able to pay. This may be painted in some circles as a huge defeat for anti-spam activists, but it's not... more

ICANN Ordered by Illinois Court to Suspend Spamhaus.org

Apparently, at this stage, it is only a proposed ruling. But I am no lawyer. This story has been discussed before, when Spamhaus, which is located in the UK, was sued in the US by a spammer. They refused to come before the court as "they do no business in Illinois, and are located in the UK...After this court ruling, Spamhaus.org was under a DDoS attack, in my opinion for the purpose of preventing users from reaching the information it provided about the court ruling. This was done along-side a Joe Job, sending fake email appearing to come from Spamhaus's CEO... more

Questioning Parked Domains and Google AdNonSense

Is contextual advertising helping or hurting the web? It basically started with Google Adsense even though the concept wasn't new. It had never been done on the scale that Google did it. Now we have Yahoo Publisher. MSN is building their version. We have Konterra and a whole lot of other companies scrambling to cash in on the contextual ad craze. Initially contextual advertising seems like a good idea. Ads based on the content of your website that might benefit your readers or visitors. Ads that are related to the content you produce that will also help you make a little money for your efforts. However greed ruins all good things. Now there are probably millions of webpages online that are built for the sole purpose of cashing in on contextual advertising. ...To make money with contextual advertising you want your content to be bad. Yes, you want it to be bad. more

Does CAN-SPAM Really Matter?

As a daily and enthusiastic reader of The New York Times, I was disappointed to read their February 1 article on CAN-SPAM entitled, "Law Barring Junk E-Mail Allows a Flood Instead" (subscription required). The theme of the article was, as the title suggests, that enacting CAN-SPAM was worse than having no laws at all. The article really missed the point on several fronts. more

An Interview with the Lead Developer of SPF - Part II

CircleID recently interviewed Meng Weng Wong, the lead developer of Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and founder of Pobox.com. As one of the leading anti spam authentication schemes, SPF is used by companies such as AOL, Earthlink, SAP and supported by anti spam companies such as Sophos, Symantec, Brightmail, IronPort, Ciphertrust, MailArmory, MailFrontier, Roaring Penguin Software, and Communigate Pro. Last month, Microsoft announced its agreement to merge Caller ID, its own proposed anti spam authentication scheme, with SPF -- the joint standard is called 'Sender ID'. In this two-part interview, Meng Wong explains how SPF got started, where it is today and what could be expected in the future of email. more

WSIS: What Is It 'Really' All About?

Until a few weeks ago, almost everyone in the Internet governance circus seemed to ignore the very existence of WSIS. After it popped up on international newspapers, however, things have been changing; and suddenly, I have started noticing plenty of negative reactions, on the lines of "we don't need WSIS, we don't need the UN, we don't need governments, we don't need internationalization - just go away from our network". However, I often find that these reactions are based on fundamental misunderstandings of the issues at stake; so please let me offer a different perspective. more

The Cycle of E-Mail Security

Stepping back from the DMARC arguments, it occurs to me that there is a predictable cycle with every new e-mail security technology... Someone invents a new way to make e-mail more secure, call it SPF or DKIM or DMARC or (this month's mini-fiasco) PGP in DANE. Each scheme has a model of the way that mail works. For some subset of e-mail, the model works great, for other mail it works less great. more

WHOIS Review and Beyond 3.7.8

We have posted our support of the WHOIS Policy Review Team Report with two important comments. First, on page 79 of the report it is confirmed that the RAA is unenforceable on WHOIS inaccuracy (we wrote about this while at the last ICANN meeting) because the language of RAA 3.7.8 has no enforcement provision. It is now time for ICANN to confirm this problem officially.  more

IP Address Reputation Primer

There has been a lot of recent discussions and questions about reputation, content and delivery of email. I started to answer some of them, and then realized there weren't any basic reference documents I could refer to when explaining the interaction. So I decided to write some. This post is about IP address reputation with some background on why IPs are so important and why ISPs focus so heavily on the sending IP. more

ARF is Now an IETF Standard

When a user of a large mail system such as AOL, Yahoo, or Hotmail reports a message as junk or spam, one of the things the system does is to look at the source of the message and see if the source is one that has a feedback loop (FBL) agreement with the mail system. If so, it sends a copy of the message back to the source, so they can take appropriate action, for some version of appropriate. For several years, ARF, Abuse Reporting Format, has been the de-facto standard form that large mail systems use to exchange FBL reports about user mail complaints. more

An Unwelcome Afterlife for a Long-Dead Blacklist

There's still a few weeks before Halloween, but have we ever got a scary story for you -- and every word of it is true. (Imagine we're sitting around a campfire, chowing down on s'mores, flashlights under our faces.) Seven years ago, on this very internet, there was a man named Matthew who was angry about spam. Now sure, there are lots of people angry about spam, and some of them are named Matthew, but this particular Matthew decided that he was going to do something about it... more

DKIM for Discussion Lists

There's a pernicious meme floating around that DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) doesn't work with discussion lists, particularly those hosted on common open source software packages like MailMan. It's particularly odd to see this claim after I set it up successfully on a stock Debian server in less than half an hour, just a few weeks ago. Here's how it can, should, and does work. more

Phishers Now Targeting Domain Registrars

This is an issue of some concern and should be watched carefully: phishers are now trying to get passwords of domain registrants (domain owners). Currently, correspondents inform me that GoDaddy is the target, but there's no reason to think the phishers won't expand to other registrars. Normally, phishers go after bank accounts or other financial information, or sometimes the online accounts of users so that they may send spam. It's not known precisely why phishers are after domain registration information, but the possibilities are chilling... more