By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2003-11-25 Print this article Print

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.
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.
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.

Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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