One Minute a Month Can Eliminate 100% of Spam, Saving Companies and Individuals Billions of Dollars
Tuesday February 15, 10:06 am ET
Permission-Based Email Management Technique Tops Conventional Methods for Accuracy
ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- The spam problem could be entirely eliminated if email users were willing to spend less than one minute a month responding to automated messages used by "permission-based" or "challenge/response" software to verify that they are legitimate senders, according to an analysis by anti-spam vendor DigiPortal Software, Inc. The worldwide cost of spam has been estimated to be as high $20 billion a year, mostly in lost productivity.
Basic challenge/response systems operate by accepting email only from individuals in the recipient's address book. More advanced systems, such as DigiPortal's ChoiceMail, give users other tools to define email they want to receive. Unrecognized senders receive an automated message asking them to verify their identity in order to be added to the recipient's approved sender list. Most spam comes from phony or forged addresses, so the spammer never receives the challenge message. Those that do receive it almost never take the time to respond.
While this methodology is widely understood to be the only way to stop 100% of spam, there has been a perception that it places a large burden on legitimate senders. DigiPortal's analysis of traffic across servers that process mail for the 90,000 individuals and 300 companies that use its ChoiceMail software demonstrates that this is a fallacy.
The findings show that the average ChoiceMail user receives only two such responses per month. This is because the overwhelming majority of email comes from senders who are already on the user's list of approved correspondents and are therefore not asked to verify their identity.
"The perception is that people receive email from new correspondents all the time," said Dr. David Jameson, founder and CTO of DigiPortal. "Our users are pretty typical, and it turns out that on average they hear from someone they don't already know about once every two weeks. If everyone used this approach, we could turn off all the other forms of spam protection, the burden of email management would shift from recipients to senders, and senders would spend less than one minute a month to ensure that their legitimate messages get through. That's a small price to pay to conquer spam once and for all."
No Hardship on Email Senders
The ChoiceMail identity verification message contains a link to a web page where the sender is asked to enter his or her name and a short message, and then to type in a code that appears on the page in order to prevent spammers from automating the response. Responding to DigiPortal's challenge message takes 10 to 15 seconds.
If every mailbox in the world were protected by a system like ChoiceMail, that would translate into just 30 seconds of reply time per month for the average email user. The result is that spam would simply disappear. Marketers would instead have to turn to opt-in lists consisting of people who have specifically expressed interest in receiving their email solicitations. No other form of spam filtering or email protection would be necessary.
"If challenge/response were universal, the only people who would spend more than a minute or so a month dealing with spam would be people who send an unusual amount of unsolicited mail. That would be completely appropriate," Jameson said. "It's like paying for postage. The sender pays, not the recipient. In this case, you pay with a few seconds of your time instead of with a stamp. And you only pay when you contact someone who doesn't already know you."
Filtering by Identity Instead of Content
Instead of using complex rules to spot spam by return address and/or message content, challenge/response systems screen incoming emails primarily on the basis of sender identity. Users create a list of approved senders, usually by importing their existing address book. Messages from individuals on this "whitelist" are accepted. Senders not on the list receive an automated message asking them to verify their identity. Users can decide which correspondents they trust and add them to their whitelists to ensure that future emails from those senders will be accepted.
Key advantages include:
-- 100% spam detection - Only approved messages reach the user's inbox,
eliminating spam completely. Legitimate senders will respond to the
identity verification request. Spammers will not, because even when
spam comes from a real address, the identity verification process in
advanced challenge/response systems like ChoiceMail requires human
intervention. Spammers depend on volume and automation, and cannot
afford to respond. In contrast, filter-based anti-spam programs fail
to stop 5 to 20% of spam, forcing users to delete a lot of unsolicited
mail as well as search for legitimate messages that have been filtered
-- No filtering errors - No email from legitimate senders is mistakenly
blocked because all email from senders on the user's approved list is
allowed to get through. This eliminates the need to pore through junk
mail folders to ensure that no wanted messages have been filtered.
Even trusted bulk mail such as electronic newsletters and online order
confirmations can be routed to the user's inbox through the use of
virtual email addresses that eliminate the need to reveal one's real
email address or maintain separate email programs for these messages.
-- Permanence - Unlike standard spam filters that are constantly
circumvented by new spam strategies and require continuous updating to
adapt to new spam techniques, challenge/response systems offer a
permanent solution to the spam problem. No matter how many times a
spammer changes his address or modifies his tactics in an effort to
evade a spam filter, there will be no effect on ability of a
challenge/response system to block unsolicited mail.
"The only way to create a world without spam is to make it accepted practice for senders to expect to identify themselves before their mail is accepted by a recipient by whom they are not known," Jameson said. "It's the same principle as answering your front door: you can let in the mail you want, and keep out the messages you don't, but it's your choice."
ChoiceMail, DigiPortal's challenge/response spam-blocking system, comes in three versions. ChoiceMail Enterprise works with Microsoft Exchange Server, Lotus Domino, Novell GroupWise, and all other enterprise email servers. ChoiceMail One, a single-user version, works with any standard email program, protects unlimited email addresses, and provides advanced features such as the use of virtual addresses enabling users to receive newsletters, e-purchase confirmations and other trusted bulk mail without maintaining multiple addresses for privacy purposes. ChoiceMail Free is a free version with basic features that protects one email address.
About DigiPortal Software, Inc.
DigiPortal Software develops business information and enterprise software applications. Specifically, the company develops information management tools designed to provide today's end users with powerful aids in fighting information overload and inappropriate Internet content. The company's flagship ChoiceMail line of anti-spam solutions have received critical acclaim from the media for their ability to reduce junk email to zero in both home and business environments. For more information, visit http://www.digiportal.com .