In a newsletter I read this week I heard about a spam solution that actually works. It works so well that spammers have gone nuts, threatening to take down the internet unless people stop using it.
Spam, in this context at least, refers to unsolicited bulk email.
- Unsolicited – you did not sign up for it
- Bulk – it was sent to thousands of people at once
- Email – electronic mail, wizzing around the internet
But I don’t need to explain what spam is, you all get it everyday. I personally have about 4 systems to analyse my mail for spam before I see it, but still some gets through. But there is now a solution.
Blue Security is an Israeli software company that has come up with a solution that ‘spams the spammers’. Blue Security has created a “do not intrude” registry – a list of email addresses that prefer not to receive spam.
It’s more elegant to read how the process works on Blue Frog’s website: Blue Frog Solution Overview.
The client sits in your taskbar, and also installs plugins for Firefox and IE. If you use an online email service such as Hotmail, GMail or Yahoo!Mail, the browser plugin activates when you log in, scans your spam/bulk mail directory and reports everything in it automatically.
To use with a desktop client (I use Thunderbird, but there are instructions online for Outlook, OE6, Eudora, Incredimail) is also really easy. Right click on the Blue Frog taskbar icon and select “Report Spam”. It opens up a new compose mail window, addressed to the blue security team, which you just drag the offending spam into as an attachment and click send. Easy as!
The registry has been operational since May 2005 and 6 of the top 10 spammers have agreed to not spam blue security members. One of the other 4, PharmaMaster, is so anguished about possibly losing business that he has been going all out to take down Blue Security. On Tuesday last week he took offline a major blog hosting provider, Six Apart, where LiveJournal and TypePad are based, as collateral when Blue Security redirected their main DNS records to their company blog. This has angered a lot of net users against the company, which is unfortunate.
I guess time will tell if this is a successful battle in the war against spam. Even if this solution isn’t perfect (two wrongs don’t make a right, an extra unneccessary program running in taskbar) any chance to fight back at spam is worth taking.
Update 18/05/2006: According to the BBC, Blue Security has ceased it’s Blue Frog service, in effect conceding defeat to the bullying tactics of the spammers. What a shame. Hopefully there will be a more robust solution soon.