May 21, 2006

Report from the Spam War Front [12:50 pm]

The Fight Against V1@gra (and Other Spam)

If individual users also have personal spam filters installed on their computers, their in-box spam count can be reduced to a trickle.

But spam continues to account for roughly 70 percent of all e-mail messages on the Internet, despite tough antispam laws across the globe (including the Can-Spam Act in the United States), despite vigorous lawsuits against individual junk-mail senders and despite the famous prediction, by Bill Gates at the World Economic Forum in 2004, that spam would be eradicated by 2006.

The continuing defiance of spammers was demonstrated last week when one of them forced Blue Security, an antispam company based in Israel, to shut down its services. The company gave customers the power to enact mob justice on spammers by overloading them with requests to be removed from mailing lists. A spammer in Russia retaliated by knocking out Blue Security’s Web site and threatening virus attacks against its customers. Blue Security said it would back off rather than be responsible for a “cyberwar.”

[...] Zombies now deliver half to three-quarters of all spam, according to a Federal Trade Commission report to Congress in December on the state of the spam problem. Among the zombies’ many advantages is an ever-shifting collection of I.P. addresses.

Another trump card was handed to spammers just over a year and a half ago, when VeriSign, the security and services company that controls the dot-com and dot-net network domains, unveiled a quicker way to update domain names.

Although a boon to people setting up their own sites, the new system decreased the time needed for a newly registered domain name to be activated, to 5 minutes from about 12 hours. That put spammers, armed with stolen credit cards and a willingness to buy and quickly abandon domain names, at a new advantage.

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Digital Distribution and Classical Music [12:44 pm]

Critic’s Notebook: Urge.com and Online Classical (Whatever That Is)

So far, perhaps the most notable innovation that iTunes has brought to the classical field has been creating an impetus to get the musicians’ union to agree on new terms regarding broadcast rights for downloads. This paved the way, for instance, for Deutsche Grammophon to team up with the New York Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic to sell live recordings under the rubric “DG Concerts.” This hardly represents a crass sellout to popular taste.

It remains to be seen what spin, if any, MTV gives to its classical section on Urge. There is every indication that the site is attempting to match the iTunes standard.

Related: A unimpressed review of Urge from the WaPo — New Media Player: Nice Features, but It’s No ITunes

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