Emailâ€¦what a wonderful tool running amok. Much of our work today is based in email. When you find, however, that your inbox is cluttered with spam and unsolicited intrusions, you start to wonder if itâ€™s all itâ€™s cracked up to be.
Most of the mail on the internet today is spam. We protect you from most of it. Not all. You have tools at your disposal to block more. Unfortunately, the more you tighten your filters, the more good emails get caught in the nets. (sigh) Thus we are losing confidence in a communication means that used to be very reliable.
In spite of our approaches, new types of spam keep coming through. A year or so ago, we were dealing with multitudes of smut and offers to enlarge. We installed new software to filter that out. Then we had credit card and eBay scams, phishing ploys enticing us to update our accounts and offer up our access codes to financial data. Currently, weâ€™re fending off stock deals, masked by randomly generated names and subject headings.
Consider this from a recent Computer World article:
Computer security analysts who fight spam face the same thankless task as goalkeepers: They donâ€™t get much credit for the unsolicited e-mail they stop, only demerits for the ones that get through. But those few messages that wriggle past increasingly sophisticated filters constitute the greatest threats on the Internet. The sheer volume of spam threatens to bring the Internet to a crisis point. The amount of all e-mail traffic that is spam has recently risen to 85%, according to the Messaging Anti-Abuse Work Group in San Franciscoâ€¦.
Who knows the precise percentage, but those numbers are consistent with our experience.
Fighting spam is difficult in an academic environment. We value academic freedom and are committed to free exchange of ideas. Rarely do we block access to information, and only when it poses a threat to our network.
Yet if the spammers continue to have their way, they may force us to develop new strategies for communicating and messaging. It might mean that we change to another means of messaging. It almost certainly requires resources and ITS time and effort.
Set your own spam filter at oz.plymouth.edu/spamkill This is a free service to the PSU community. Outlook users can also set a second filter under the Tools menu.
ITS will continue to keep pace with developments in the anti-spam industry. We know this is important to all of us.