This year brought us many state laws against spam, and it appears that
Congress is on the verge of passing legislation. I sure hope Im wrong, but dont look for this law to cut the amount of spam in 2004 (or 2005, 2006, 2007... should I go on?). The spam problem is not the result of mail sent by the sort of legitimate marketers who would obey such a law.
If technology is all thats left to work with, what will be the leading technologies in 2004? As it has been for years, my bet is still with the service model. Companies like Postini and MessageLabs can completely outsource portions of the security model for an enterprise or even an ISP. The current year saw growth in this model in both the business and consumer space, as ISPs began taking on many security-related tasks centrally. Since this is the only model that can make a big dent in the growth of Internet-based attacks, I expect it to continue to grow in 2004. Eventually I expect and hope that ISP accounts that dont at least offer spam and threat protection will be untenable in the market, if not actually illegal. Check out eWEEK Labs Director Jim Rapozas security predictions for 2004. Yes, illegal. One day people will realize that even if they take all the precautions they can, there are still oblivious suckers out there running infected systems that are dumping all over everyone else. Perhaps ISPs should be expected to provide a safe environment, rather than letting users fend for themselves. I can see some legislature requiring ISPs to provide that. Probably not in 2004, but before too long. And theres a law that could make a difference. Discuss this in the eWEEK forum. Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the compute industry since 1983. Check back on eWEEK.com tomorrow for our predictions on storage and servers, followed by mobile computing and open source on Friday, collaboration and Web services on Saturday, and networking on Sunday.
Even if spam should be illegal, because fraud should be illegal, the law is not going to solve the problem. Some say that the solution to the spam problem, as well as to other problems such as mail worms, is user education. And just like a law against forged mail headers, user education is an undeniably good thing and can help. But its not going to solve the problem in 2004, or anytime soon, because all it takes is a few unsophisticated users to keep these problems alive.