Spammers In Great White North?

Over at Michael Geist’s blog (its on our must read list) he commented on Canada being a spam haven. Having read his particular blog a number of times we felt it necessary to comment. We think he’s on the mark when it comes to suggesting that Canada needs stronger spam laws but may be off the mark in concluding that Canada is a spammers delight.

…McColo Corp., a hosting provider in Northern California that was the home base for machines responsible for coordinating the sending of roughly 75 percent of all spam each day.

We monitor all incoming spam on our network (completely without any statistical validity we assure you) and interestingly we took about a 60% drop on November 12-15th. We were interested in the reason and found that a San Jose, CA, company, McColo, was forced off the air. It seems that the company was responsible for the lion’s share of spam (read the original story here). So a couple of observations:

  1. We have not seen the Cloudmark statistics, referred to by Michael, but we would check their data to determine how much email originates from these free mail services versus all other sources. Our own statistics indicate that we received less than 5% of our email from the three services mentioned.
  2. Where an email appears to be from does not establish exactly where it originated. Spam is a global work effort and is often made up of hijacked personal computers, botnets, cracked servers and a host of other interconnections. These relationships are not static and usually difficult if not impossible to sort out.
  3. It is every company’s responsibility to ensure that it’s servers are not used as a platform for spam. Where are Hotmail, Yahoo, and Gmail on this issue given that “80% of traffic” originates from these services. It seems to us that if the quoted stats are true, then they are the spam havens—and most of their servers reside in the USA.
  4. We will never stop spam at the receiving end. It must eradicated at its source. Further, no amount of brilliant legislation will ever keep pace with the creativity of spammers and those involved in scams in general.

While we agree that Canada does need anti-spam laws (with a little more teeth than the useless do-not-call registry) it does not follow that Canada is a spam haven. Some of the recent facts seem to indicate that again, when it comes to spam, we are poor cousins to our southern neighbour.

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