Updated: The Losing War on Junk Email: Spam is Unevenly Spread

While I enjoyed the piece in the current New Yorker about tactics (on both sides) in the losing war on junk e-mail, it misses an important point. The spam problem is still here, but it’s unevenly spread.

There are many of us who get maybe one or two junk messages a day, and that’s about it. And there are others I know who get oodles of the stuff all the time. We have, in other words, a two-class system in junk mail: The haves (spam), and the have-nots (spam). And the trouble is, it is the latter folks who are least sophisticated, and therefore most prone to viewing things, clicking on attachments, and making things worse by adding more zombie spam senders and the link.

[Update] Speaking of spam (& scams), some great related work being here in San Diego by researchers at the Collaborate Center for Internet Epidemiology and Defenses at UCSD. Worth-reading paper to be delivered at USENIX next week here, and a summary is here.


  1. we need a semantic email client.

  2. By that you mean an email client smarter than the people using it.

  3. I’m in both classes:
    – the haves, since I do receive a lot of spam
    – the have-nots, since I don’t see them, thanks to gmail’s antispam excellence.