Messaging Pipeline | Depending On Sender ID Is Whistling In The Dark
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September 08, 2004

Depending On Sender ID Is Whistling In The Dark

You can't fix SMTP with bubble gum and paper clips, you have to replace it.

Messaging Pipeline

Gee whillickers, those gosh-darned spammers. They've gone and hijacked Sender Policy Framework, the foundation technology that makes Sender ID the authentication scheme of the future, the gadget that the Anti-Spam Technical Alliance (ASTA) says will stem the rising tide of spam e-mail. Who would've thought those rascals would do such a thing?

I'm not trying to brag, but you have to admit that predicting this sorry turn of events was something of a no-brainer (See Weapons of Spam Destruction, Jun 24, 2004).

As I said then, "Spammers are smart, they will figure out a way around or through sender authentication schemes . . . they are also not very nice people." That also means that the spammers will figure out how to defeat any so-called "sender accreditation" scheme that comes along as well. It's downright silly of MX Logic's Scott Chaisin to think that accreditation will help. If you have any doubt, check around your town to see how many illegitimate businesses have legitimate business and professional credentials.

There is nothing available in the technology surrounding SMTP, and for that matter in the way in which SMTP operates that will allow spam to be prevented, or even slowed. SMTP is an open system that was designed for small groups of friendlies who liked each other, didn't want to sell each other anything but ideas and group dates for coffee, and thought the world would stay that way.

The world didn't stay that way, and today SMTP operates in an environment that is part of an open society that unfortunately has a few venal people who will exploit anything they can to make a few dollars. They'll steal from their grandmother just as quickly as they'll dump a few hundred million spam messages out the door using your maiden aunt's compromised computer.

I will beat on this drum until it hurts your ears: SMTP e-mail needs to be replaced. It needs to be replaced with a closed, secure system that does not allow for uncontrolled mass mailings. This businesss of trying to "fix" SMTP with bubble gum, paper clips, and Sender ID, is just whistling in the dark.

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