September 9th, 2004

Busan Day 2 – Emerging Spam

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Yesterday, the speakers have more or less covered almost all the current antispam techniques, I wonder if I should repeat them again for my talk today which will probably makes it pretty boring. Or should I do something else and make it interesting…so I did the latter :-)

Since my session is ‘Emerging Technologies’, I decided to turn my talk to ‘Emerging Spam’.

Business communications technologies has constantly evolvoing, from Postal Mail to Telegraph to Telephone to Fax to today Email. By historical trends, we should not expect Email to be the end of this evolution1.

And if we look at generic problem of “spam” (ie. bulk unsolicated commerical communication) it has also followed the communication evolution too. From Junk Mails to Junk Fax to Junk Voice Mail to Email Spam, we can also expect spams to exists in new form of communication technologies.Fundamentally, “spam” is an economic problem, where the cost of marketing vs the return of investment. As such, the lower the cost of communication, the bigger the spam problem.

So in the near future, we can expect the following kind of spams: Mobile Email Spam, Mobile SMS Spam, Instant Message Spam, Blog’s Comment Spam (which I am pretty familiar with :-) and Wiki’s Spam. And with the advancement of VoIP that promises lower cost of long distance communication, the set of direct marketing spam, the voice mail spam and junk fax will return. Only this time, it would be different in that they are international. How are a company in Korea going to deal with a Junk Fax from Singapore, for example?

But no, I am not advocating that OECD to look at the generic and longer term solution. While spam exists on all these channels, the nature of the spam are very different and hence, the set of antispam measures would be different too. Moreover, while some of these emerging spams is a problem, none of them has reach a critical stage like Email.

So lets stay on focus on the Email Antispam effort but bear in mind that experiences and that international networks we built in the OECD workshop would be very valuable in the long term fight against spam.

ps: On a related note, USA Today carries a news about zombies PCs for hire, 20,000 for US$3,000. (via Slahsdot). I blog about how virus writers, spammers and criminals are coming together last year. Seem like it is coming true…

1 Nope, I didn’t actually say Email is dead. It wouldnt be polite, especial to my fellow panelists from Symantec and MessageLab who is trying hard to sell their wares :-)

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