Chapter 36. Spam Is Dead

In 2004, Bill Gates boldly proclaimed that Microsoft would solve the spam problem by the beginning of 2006. That was wrong, but maybe not as far off as some people might think.

True, most people are still seeing ads for Viagra and love letters from horny Russian girls, and getting business opportunities from Nigerian princes on a regular basis, but not too many of them. Most decent antispam technologies out there work about 98% of the time, but if you’re getting 15,000 spams a day before your antispam filter has its go at it (this is the level of spam I personally receive each day), that’s still about 300 spams showing up in your inbox. That’s probably great for the average Gmail user, who only would have gotten about 100 spams in a day, and only gets 1 or 2 in his inbox.

Another problem with a lot of spam filters is that they will tag legitimate email messages as spam. When you’re getting a lot of spam, you’re not going to want to try to search it periodically to figure out what your spam filter got wrong. This problem is worst with the spam filters built into most email systems. If you use an email security service or a big security vendor, this still happens, but they tend to be a lot better about it.

Even though 15,000 pieces of spam show up to my personal email addresses on a daily basis, I use a spam filter that lets through less than one piece of spam per day. Here’s what my system does (it is not unique to me, even though I wrote my own code):

  • If I’ve ...

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