Network News Break: Mixed News on the Spam Wars Front

New laws and the occasional conviction might make a spam-fighting admin's day, but are they distracting from the technical battle? Also: Wi-Fi you might want to relabel Hi-Fi, an anti-virus product that helps Linux protect Windows on your net, and an anti-spam giveaway from Microsoft.

 By Michael Hall
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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:


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


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.


» 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.
This article was originally published on May 27, 2004
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