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Will Habeus Work?

This article details an approach to combating spammers that I have not seen before:

http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,54645,00.html

I applaud the creativity of the idea, but I wonder if this will actually do any good.  I still don't quite understand how these "faceless" spammers will be tracked down when it comes time to hold them accountable.  I suspect that many spam operations use the same kind of techniques to cover their tracks as hackers do (stealing bandwidth from a legit company, for example, so that the traffic can't be traced to the guilty party) so I'm not sure what would stop spammers from stealing the "trusted" mail headers as long as they could conceal their identity.

It may cut down spam sent out by people who are actually trying to sell something, but what about spam purely designed just to annoy or offend?

The other problem I see is that the legal battles will likely come down to claims of "We didn't send that!  Someone else is using our name!"

Tim Lara
Wednesday, August 28, 2002

When you outlaw haiku, then only outlaws will use haiku.

How do Habeus' lawyers expect to track down and sue spammers that forge email headers and use hacked mail servers in Korea? They are trying to fight fire with water and sometimes that does not work.

Zwarm Monkey
Wednesday, August 28, 2002

OK, this is a bit off-topic, but does anybody know if the whole "Rodona Garst" thing is a hoax?  The story broke about two years ago, and got a lot of attention on Usenet, Slashdot, etc.  It seemed a bit fishy, though.

Allegedly, a hacker nick-named "Man in the Wilderness" broke into the computer of a spammer named Rodona Garst and posted all sorts of embarrassing information about her.

For details, see:

http://belps.freewebsites.com/index2.htm

Just wondering if anybody knows the scoop.  Thanks.

J. D. Trollinger
Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Hmm...Hadn't heard about this.  Entertaining reading, even if it is fiction.

Reminds me a bit of another off-topic link:

http://grc.com/dos/drdos.htm

Tim Lara
Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Whoops - I meant:

http://grc.com/dos/grcdos.htm

Tim Lara
Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Lets get this straight - they hacked my machine, used it to cause harm to my reputation, and we are going to put them in the clink for copying haiku? All's that has to happen is everyone in the world has to reconfigure their mail servers to detect this? Maybe instead of haiku they could insert an ad for their service, eventually that become a good business model. I thought wired died with the 90's, what's going on?

I noticed this while reading a link Matthew Lock
pointed out in another thread (same site) - it talks about using statistical analysis for words to detect spam, sounds a lot more plausible if less sensational.

http://www.paulgraham.com

Robin Debreuil
Thursday, August 29, 2002

Sounds like a 'boil the ocean' scheme to me.

The way I understand it is:

- The company produces some Haiku and copyrights it.

- EMail senders purchase the right to include the Haiku in there emails.

- Email is filtered so that only email containing the Haiku is premitted.

The whole thing works as long as every legitimate user of email purchases Haiku rights (and the company makes a mint).  If only a hundred or thousand users do, it means nothing.  It's just a rather dull signature.

Ged Byrne
Thursday, August 29, 2002

It seems to me the problem is informing everyone who might email you of your
haiku.

You could easily eliminate spam now by rejecting every mail that did not include your haiku (or some other code). I can't believe that a spammer would take the trouble to identify your piece of text (unless there is an automatic way of doing it? Suggestions?). The trouble is that anyone who
didn't know your key would get their mail dumped in with the spam.

I think the copyright side is a red herring,
because of the unenforcability. For example, if a spammer quoted an email that contained the haiku and looked as though it came from you, would that be legitimate use? Plus the fee for copyright is not small. How many are they going to copyright? 100? 1000? 

David Clayworth
Thursday, August 29, 2002


This topic was discussed on slashdot about a week ago.

It produced lots of interesting replies... in haiku, of course.

Leonardo Herrera
Thursday, August 29, 2002

David Clayworth, no one needs to know your haiku because you don't have one. Every email would use the SAME haiku, which is copyrighted by the Habeus company.

I agree with Ged that this is a "boil the ocean" strategy (to borrow Joel's phrase :-) that just won't work. If every email I receive that does not have the haiku is dumped in my Spam mail folder, then I will have more email in my Spam folder than in my Inbox! Every legacy email reader and email server will be generating spam false positives.  :-(

Zwarm Monkey
Thursday, August 29, 2002

> does anybody know if the whole "Rodona Garst" thing is a hoax

I got about halfway through the first page before I stopped believing it was true.  He got a screenshot of her desktop in action?  I might be wrong, but I don't believe it.

Brian
Friday, September 06, 2002

Irrelevant but amusing: Rodona Garst is an anagram of Arrogant Sod, which pretty much sums up spammers.

Adrian Gilby
Tuesday, September 10, 2002

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