Merit Network
Can't find what you're looking for? Search the Mail Archives.
  About Merit   Services   Network   Resources & Support   Network Research   News   Events   Home

Discussion Communities: Merit Network Email List Archives

North American Network Operators Group

Date Prev | Date Next | Date Index | Thread Index | Author Index | Historical

Re: IBM to offer service to bounce unwanted e-mail back to the

  • From: Susan Zeigler
  • Date: Wed Mar 23 17:37:36 2005

Anne P. Mitchell, Esq. wrote:

On Mar 23, 2005, at 12:37 PM, RSK wrote:

On Tue, Mar 22, 2005 at 10:24:37AM -0800, Andreas Ott wrote:

If this write-up is accurate,

It's not. From the website:

IBM Not Spamming Spammers! FairUCE is About Fair Use, Not Abuse!

Did you hear? IBM is spamming spammers! It’s all over the Internet, and tongues are a’wagging! Except, it ain’t so. IBM is not spamming spammers.

Whether you think that spamming spammers is right or wrong, IBM ain’t doing it, and shame on CNN for getting it so wrong, and making IBM look so irresponsible, and in league with the likes of Lycos’ “Make Love Not Spam” DOSsing Screensaver program, and the notorious Mugu Maurauder bandwidth sucking program.

You can’t really blame the folks who read CNN’s horribly wrong piece for spreading the rumour, after all it was quite sensationalist:

“Spamming spammers?
IBM to offer service to bounce unwanted e-mail back to the computers that sent them.
March 22, 2005: 12:22 PM EST

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - IBM unveiled a service Tuesday that sends unwanted e-mails back to the spammers who sent them.

The new IBM (Research) service, known as FairUCE, essentially uses a giant database to identify computers that are sending spam. E-mails coming from a computer on the spam database are sent directly back to the computer, not just the e-mail account, that sent them.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

About the only thing which the article got right is that the program is called “FairUCE". FairUCE, according to IBM’s own FairUCE website, readily available for anyone to read (cough…CNN reporters..cough), is a “spam filter that stops spam by verifying sender identity instead of filtering content".

Let’s say that again: FairUCE is a spam filter that stops spam by verifying sender identity instead of filtering content.

If FairUCE can’t verify sender identity, then it goes into challenge-response mode, sending a challenge email to the sender, to which the sender must reply, to demonstrate that it is not a spambot sending the mail in question, but a real live person.

Here is IBM’s explanation of how the FairUCE system works:

“Technically, FairUCE tries to find a relationship between the envelope sender’s domain and the IP address of the client delivering the mail, using a series of cached DNS look-ups. For the vast majority of legitimate mail, from AOL to mailing lists to vanity domains, this is a snap. If such a relationship cannot be found, FairUCE attempts to find one by sending a user-customizable challenge/response. This alone catches 80% of UCE and very rarely challenges legitimate mail.”

Now, being kind, it’s possible that the good folks at CNN mistook the sending of the challenge for “spamming the spammer"....

(Rest at fair-use-not-abuse/)


While I wholeheartedly agree with much of the Aunty-Spam article, I also have to note that it appears the original erroneous claim was made by an IBM spokeperson. In the CNN/Money article, the following appears:

"IBM has previously offered anti-spam filter technology, but this is the first time the company has developed technology to "send spam back to the spammer," according to IBM spokeswoman Kelli Gail. IBM is not concerned about liability, even in cases where innocent senders might be misidentified as spammers, because all the technology does is bounce back the e-mails, said Gail."

That paragraph seems to be the basis for the entire articles claim--and attributes the "sending back to the spammer" idea to IBM. Perhaps we should expand the "Just one more example of why people who are not technically knowledgable should not, you know, report on technology." statement to include technology company's non-technology-literate marketing people;)


Susan Zeigler | Phairos Technologies | 515.965.5338

"I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands
of fools. Let's start with typewriters."
-- Frank Lloyd Wright

Discussion Communities

About Merit | Services | Network | Resources & Support | Network Research
News | Events | Contact | Site Map | Merit Network Home

Merit Network, Inc.