Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Friday, September 10, 2021

When Bill Gates made his much-ballyhooed announcement earlier this year about eradicating spam, I was skeptical. My reasons were twofold:

As for the ideas on countering spam, I’m not sure about the basic approach: Restricting email communication only to those addresses already in a person’s address book. Does that mean you can’t just give someone you meet your email address without first adding them to your address book ahead of time? What if a mutual friend/colleague gives your address to someone else? What about information requests, or just public inquiries? Not to mention that viruses get spread by using address book information, so any such email “protection” system that makes messages sent by recognized senders appear “trustworthy” would cause the average person to drop their guard against malicious attachments (typical of Microsoft to think of these things in compartmentalized fashion: “We solved spam, but how could we know it would have increased virus spread tenfold?”).

Basically, I thought the whole approach relied on a clumsy whitelist filter, and so would be doomed from the start. What’s more, it would only make things easier for virus writers (close enough parters with spammers).

It looks like my suspicions were justified: Spammers have already taken advantage of the brand new Send ID feature that MS is pushing, ironically helping junk email evade filters. So it’s making spam more pervasive, not less.

Is it obvious yet that Microsoft is just not organizationally equipped to solve problems like this? You didn’t need a crystal ball to anticipate this sort of misuse. When you approach problem-solving by ignoring big-picture ramifications, naturally you’re not only not going to solve the problem you’re targeting, but you’re also going to exacerbate other problem areas.

If this is the sort of ham-handed approach that Longhorn will be based upon, I think I’ll pass.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 09/10/2021 08:24:48 PM
Category: Internet | Permalink |


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