Call in the Spam-Busters; Decoy Addresses in New Battle against Junk Email; Financial Mail

Article excerpt

Byline: RACHEL OLDROYD

JUNK email, the electronic nuisance that clogs up the Internet, is coming under attack.

Each year Internet users are estimated to waste a total of at least 27,588 years reading and deleting unsolicited emails known as spam.

Andrew Sadler-Smith of network specialist Novell says that much of the unwanted mail is not just tiresome but pernicious because it contains dubious invitations to join get-rich-quick scams or visit hardcore pornographic sites.

A report by Novell estimates that the problem costs British firms up to [pounds sterling]5.1 billion a year in lost time.

But eliminating spam attacks has proved difficult. Every time companies introduce new software to fight the menace, the email senders become more inventive.

Spamming is so profitable that it has become a formidable enemy. The companies behind it operate by scouring the Internet for addresses to send junk mail to on behalf of their clients.

Hundreds of companies have sprung up that specialise in building and selling lists of addresses.

In June, the US State of Washington introduced innovative legislation that effectively outlawed two of the spammers' favourite tactics - using false email addresses in an attempt to avoid being traced, and disguising messages with false information in the subject field, so that seemingly innocent email may contain an offensive sales pitch.

In another move, a US consortium is about to intensify the war on spam-mers with a promising cat-and-mouse strategy designed to draw them into the open.

California-based Bright Light Technologies, founded by Sunil Paul, has created thousands of 'fake' email addresses that it hopes will infiltrate the spammers' lists. …