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Arguments Split Over Anti-Spam Technology

Anti-spam technologies are essentially of two types - blocking and combined filtering. A debate among anti-spam vendors exists as to which technology is superior.

In a 'Consumer Reports' survey it was estimated that online scams, malware and phishing attacks have cost users around US $8 billion over the past two years. Thus it needs to be ensured how spam mail can be diverted to the bulk mail folder and not let legitimate mail land in that folder.

According to Peter Stewart, CEO of TotalBlock, 'blocking' is more effective to prevent scams than 'filtering'. Users using blocking techniques could save billions of dollars than if they used the usual filtering process. This is because the blocking-based anti-spam software results in zero spam.

However, there is a different opinion about blocking as given by Michael Warrilow, Managing Director, Hydrasight. According to him blocking relies on a trust-based environment where there is an ongoing relationship between the sender and the receiver. Therefore it may not work for e-mails, which come from unknown sources.

Warrilow instead asserted on blended filtering that permits entry of legitimate e-mail even from unrecognized sources. In other words this approach can use a cocktail of different filters and algorithms. And it would be more popular as it can allow people without a pre-existing relationship with others to send them e-mails that could be legitimate in all respects.

Having a similar argument Mr. Paul Ducklin of Sophos referred to a mixed approach to combat spam because a single anti-spam technique is inadequate. He believes that to gain accuracy and speed a single technique does not work for everything, so an effective anti-spam solution must include multiple techniques.

Both Ducklin and Warrilow agree that spam and virus techniques have similar features therefore anti-spam and anti-virus solutions should be combined together. Warrilow says there are overlaps in spam and viruses with respect to their behaviors. Ducklin argues that spammers and virus writers use similar coding techniques. While spamming involves using 'botnets' and viruses to infect systems, virus creators use spam to distribute malware. Thus the two solutions - anti-virus and anti-spam can be blended to give effective results.

Related article: Arizona Voters Could be Targeted for ID Theft During Election Season

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