Some thoughts about spam email

I’m so tired of spam messages in my mailboxes. The amount of spam increases monthly, and even if most of my spam is filtered out by GMail’s fantastic spam filter, I still receive lots that I need to categorize manually every day. In particular, in the past week I started receiving mail that was allegedly sent by me.

This starts to feel very stupid especially since, after years from the start of the problem, we haven’t been able to resolve the situation at all. Software has been refined to mark email with better precision, but the source of the problem is still there. What does this tell me?

Often I hear the argument that if spam wasn’t a business, we wouldn’t be seeing any, so the cause of the spam continuing is the fact that people do actually buy stuff from spammers. I’m not entirely sure of this reasoning. Yeah okay the reason why phishing continues is because people actually fall for it often enough, making it profitable for frauders, even when the risk of being caught is sensibly higher. On the other hand, I start to wonder who is the spam profitable to.

If I look at the spam I started to receive lately, it’s not always sent to sell me stuff, and while sometimes I see german spam that seems to have some kind of political objective (that is most likely not going to be helped by the spam itself, but whatever), I get huge amount of spam that just seems to be used to get around filters, and be annoying. Maybe they try to poison the spam filters, or maybe…

Who’s currently having heavy profits from spam emails? Producers of spam filters, consultants who sell configuration of SpamAssassin, and most importantly, providers of combined spam filtering services. My ISP is selling special email accounts with better spam filtering, instead of providing it to its users as a basic service. I hear people talking about mail clusters with multiple input, output and processing servers; I always thought that mail protocols were quite lightweight, I sincerely doubt this was the case before spam was an issue.

In the reasoning I cited above there is one thing that is for sure: spam will continue as long as it’s profitable. The problem is who is it profitable to? What can we do to make it not profitable any longer?