Messaging Anti Abuse Working Group

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Just how much is spam and malicious email attempts costing you and your staff, clients and partners? That is a big question. And for many who run their business solo — difficult to assess the true costs to themselves and their customers.

However, when you factor in the hard numbers – in bandwidth, storage, time spent managing spam, and any support issues generated by it – the expense can get quite large. That does not include customers who may fall prey to a phishing attempt.

While a big part of anti-spam and other malicious email schemes can be battled though a combination of client education and desktop and/or server technology solutions, no broad standards exist for fighting back.

The Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG), an independent organization made up of international companies deeply entrenched in the business of cyberspace, meets this week in Atlanta, Georgia to further its mission to battle spam and other unwelcome messaging and hopefully begin to develop and contribute standards.

Participants include Adelphia, newly-minted member AOL, Bell Canada, Cingular Wireless, France Telecom, Microsoft, Sprint, Vodafon and numerous others across the globe (see list here).

A broad look at the organization’s goals can be found here, created for a summit the group held early this past summer.

To put just the spam issue into perspective — in late 2003 the Pew Internet and American Life Project pegs 50% of 30 million emails a day as spam. This has surely risen in 2004 and includes relentless surges in email virus blasts and phishing quests.

There have been arguments on both sides as to whether standards and regulatory elements should come from governments, private industry or both. My humble opinion would be to give groups like this one time to propose solid standards that are feasible at all levels of the technology stream globally — rather than attempting to get multiple foreign governmental bodies to concur on new laws that may not maintain relevancy for the long term.

Postscript: Interesting additional thought – the MAAWG is looking at measures that will benefit both traditional computer users AND mobile devices. Good forward thinking I would say considering the growing proliferation of handheld capabilities.

Blane WarreneBlane Warrene
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