Network News Break: Mixed News on the Spam Wars Front

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Editor’s Note: What Are the Spam Laws Accomplishing?

Just last week, new FTC rules went into effect governing the ways
in which pornographic spam must be sent. The most obvious of the
rules was a decree that all
pornographic spam must carry a label
in the subject line that
looks like this:

SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT

The FTC is particularly proud of the subject line, since it used to
require the subject line to read this:

SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT-CONTENT

They thoughtfully reduced the length of the warning so spammers
could fit more information on the subject. After all, how will they
be able to reach the true connoisseurs of pornographic spam if they
can’t differentiate their wares?

Today, against the backdrop of the provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act
being implemented, two more bits of spam news came down the wire:

First, Maryland passed “The Spam Deterence Act,” which provides for
tough new fines for fraudulent spam. The second piece of news is an
apparent victory for anti-spam activists in the form of a
conviction. A spammer sending out fraudulent mails received a sentence
of up to seven years for his activities, which involved identity theft
and over 800 million spams.

So there are laws and regulations, and the courts are even figuring
out ways to deal with spammers, and that’s all for the good. But
what’s the impact?

According to one thumbnail
look at the week in spam
, not much. Brightmail reported that
pornographic spam was sent out in greater frequency after last week’s
rules went into effect, enough of which looked like it was
complying with the law that most end users probably imagined the spam
situation had improved on some level. But it hasn’t, from a network
management point of view, because we still have to deal with this
stuff coming onto our networks at all.

Network admins get it coming and going. When the boss reads about
an awesome new technology he’s just dying to see implemented, money
that was unavailable for the less sexy work of keeping the net
infrastructure maintained suddenly appears. And when he sees enough
headlines about “get tough” laws and the occasional conviction for
things that would be illegal if they occurred over a telephone,
snail-mail, or even a can and string run between two treehouses, he
assumes a little more money he might have spent on a technical
solution might be better spent on that new shiny he was reading about.

Maybe we’d be better off without the laws.

Elsewhere

» Network Associates reports it’s now
shipping McAfee
LinuxShield
. It’s an anti-virus product less to secure Linux
machines against still-rare viruses, and more to protect Windows hosts
on the network from ‘net-based threats.

» Microsoft has announced that
Intelligent Message Filter (IMF) will be available to everybody, not
just subscribers to its Software Assurance Program. IMF works with
Exchange 2003 in a manner similar to the anti-spam tech employed in
Outlook 2003, giving admins a lot of control over how agressively it
filters suspect mail. Maybe there’s hope for a free
SP2 after all
.

» Towerstream reports
that it’s got a WiMAX antenna sitting atop the Empire State Building
now. The new antenna allows the company to provide T1 and 100 Mbps
level performance over 802.16 to anyone within a ten mile radius of
Manhattan.

» A second iteration of IBM’s SAN File
System is headed for market next month. Formerly for Windows and AIX,
the new version will include support for Red Hat and Solaris. The
Register caught a
disturbing side note
about the product: “SAN File System has
limited file sharing between UNIX and Windows environments because of
the difference in file access control between the two types of
operating systems.”

The Week in Crossnodes

» Scripting Clinic: Dissecting a Live Python… Script

By examining a working script line by line, this edition of the
Scripting Clinic shows you how to put your own scripts together and
exposes a few Python quirks along the way.

» Pack-Rats
by Law: A Message Archiving Primer

With the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, messaging archives have gone from a
voluntary tic among pack-rat users to a regulatory necessity. Here’s
how to crate up the correspondence without overloading your LAN.

» AirDefense
Secures the Wireless Perimeter

In the rush to go wireless, administrators will find that they must
supplement standard security measures with serious reporting and
policy-enforcing products. Count AirDefense among them.

» WiMAX
Bridges the Last Mile in Broadband

WiMAX is slated to provide high-speed connectivity over distances that
dwarf 802.11’s effective range. Of course, it also promises to keep
things interesting for network administrators just coming to grips
with Wi-Fi.

»Plan
and Project Your Wireless LAN in 3-D

Don’t guess when it comes to creating a wireless network at your
company. LANPlanner SE lets you design and deploy a wireless network
with confidence.

The Week in Network News

» Monday: Time
to Talk Network Storage

If your CIO hasn’t come to chat about archiving and storage, brace
yourself: the message storage outlook for many companies is a little
rocky. Also: battling message authentication standards, and a boost in
NAS capabilities from Microsoft provokes some products from Iomega.

» Tuesday: Microsoft
Backs a New Way to Slam Spam

With a new day comes a new, Microsoft-backed standard for
spam-fighting. With the merger of Caller ID for E-Mail and the popular
but flawed SPF, there’s no reason to sit out the spam wars. Also:
Cisco’s monstrous new switch, Comcast’s startling admission, and
Microsoft’s new security software.

» Wednesday: Memo
to Microsoft: XP SP2 Wants to Be Free

As Microsoft mulls its bottom line, the rest of the world
deals with the widespread Windows vulnerabilities SP2 was built to
fix. Our suggestion: Be a good citizen of the ‘net and let even the
freeloaders get at SP2. Also: EMC and Dell push out a sub-$10k SAN,
Broadcom’s new 4-Gig switch might be overkill, and get ready for a few
new Palm clients on your WLAN.

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