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CipherTrust wants your spam

The company is calling on surfers of all stripes to help it wage a fight against spam by sending their unsolicited mass e-mail to its new Web site.

    E-mail security company CipherTrust wants your spam.

    The company is calling on surfers of all stripes to help it wage a fight against spam by sending their unsolicited mass e-mail to its new Web site, Spamarchive.org. The idea is to create a vast public repository of spam, so makers of antispam tools can test their algorithms on the latest mass-messaging trends.

    "It's kind of like donating your spam to science," Paul Judge, director of research and development at CipherTrust, said.

    The company is hoping to differentiate its spam database from others by making it both large and public. Many antispam companies ask for spam donations, but most keep such submissions secret. Publicly available databases are often run by independent individuals.

    Judge said the creation of Spamarchive.org was inspired by the successful collaborative development that takes place in communities such as the open-source movement and the security-software market.

    CipherTrust is soliciting volunteers to help it determine which messages constitute spam. It plans to put the database online in a few days and will collect spam messages on an ongoing basis.

    Spam, the bane of almost every Internet user, is so severe in some cases that it could discourage people from using e-mail at all. Some filtering companies predict spam will make up the majority of message traffic on the Internet by the end of this year.

    As a result, companies and organizations


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    are constantly working on ways to deflect unwanted messages without discarding the e-mails users really do want. Popular methods include filters and blocklists, which identify IP (Internet protocol) addresses of suspected or known spammers. However, both have the potential to over- and under-block messages.

    Other techniques include letting through only messages from preapproved senders, which can be cumbersome for the both the sender and recipient of legitimate e-mail.

    Meanwhile, anti-spam crusaders are engaged in an escalating arms race with direct marketers, who are constantly adopting new tricks to foil technical efforts to block spam.