IBM Fights Back Against Spammers

IBM upped the ante in its fight against spam by releasing FairUCE Tuesday, a technology the company claims fights junk mail better by analyzing the "domain identity" of an e-mail. If an e-mail is deemed to be spam, it is redirected back to the real sender, essentially spamming the spammer.

According to IBM, a computer would be able to differentiate an e-mail that is spoofed, such as the numerous PayPal scams circulating the Internet, from a true e-mail coming from a legitimate source.

FairUCE stands for "Fair Use of Unsolicited Commercial E-mail," a play on the term more commonly used for describing legal ways that someone can use copyrighted work.

FairUCE is IBM's first foray into spam prevention; the company previously offered e-mail filtering. This is also the first time an anti-spam service will actually send the data back to the spammer.

There is a chance that legitimate e-mails could be misidentified, but IBM says it is not worried about any liability since all the e-mails do is bounce back.

Lycos Europe in late November released a screensaver called "Make Love Not Spam" that directly targeted spam servers with denial of service attacks, but removed it after bad press. The software was also blamed for taking two legitimate Chinese Web sites offline.

Other companies, such as Microsoft and America Online have taken legal routes to deal with the spam problem, but have found limited success in suing spammers. It is unclear whether successful lawsuits have had any measurable effect on the amount of junk mail.

IBM's latest anti-spam product is just the latest in a line of various attempts over the past several months to find a way to stop what seems to be an ever increasing amount of spam traveling through the Internet. According to IBM research, nearly 8 out of every 10 e-mails sent are spam, a number that has risen sharply since the beginning of the decade.

However, Big Blue feels that its source tracking technology may be the answer, according to IBM Director Stuart McIrvine.

"By creating a multi-layered defense that proactively repels spam at its source, companies can get ahead of spammers and malicious hackers who are always looking for new ways of penetrating IT systems through email," said McIrvine.

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