IBM To Spam Spammers

The technology, known as Fair Use of Unsolicited Commercial Email (or FairUCE), establishes a "return to sender" policy for messages that come from a database of computers sending spam. It is available for solution providers to download for free through the vendor's alphaWorks emerging technology program.

Marc Goubert, manager of alphaWorks at Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM, said the technology presents a new option for messaging security as the number of spam messages continues to increase exponentially. In February, 76 percent of all e-mail was spam, according to a recent IBM Global Business Security Index report.

"There is a different way of looking at spam," Goubert said. "This is more effective than running the arms race that we're running with [bandwidth-intensive] content-based filtering."

The FairUCE approach verifies the IP address of a message sender and matches it against a list of blacklisted domain names, Goubert said. If the message comes from a blacklisted address, the technology returns it to the sender. And if the message comes from an address deemed as "safe," it's allowed to pass.

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The FairUCE technology also establishes a relationship between an e-mail domain, an e-mail-address and the computer from which messages are sent. Since IP addresses are fixed and can't be changed, FairUCE can identify whether the messages are arriving from a zombie computer, bot device or legitimate e-mail server.

Goubert added that unlike spam filters, which identify spam by scanning the content of every e-mail entering a network, FairUCE blocks and eliminates spam from spammers who use false identities. "With FairUCE, we look up the envelope a message came in as opposed to checking out message itself," he said. "The solution is based on simple technologies."

By stopping some of these fake messages, the technology will minimize threats such as phishing and spoofing--tactics used to trick users into disclosing information that can lead to identity theft, Goubert said. So far, there are no plans to commercialize the product, he added.