LINX members unite in the war against spam

At the recent London Internet Exchange (LINX) AGM, the 200 strong membership agreed operational principles for spam management teams to share information while ensuring that customer privacy is not infringed.

The decision was made following a review of a Best Current Practice (BCP) document on spam-busting techniques by Internet expert Dr Richard Clayton, researcher in the Security Group at the University of Cambridge.

The study is part of a spambusting research project called “spamHINTS”, which is financially supported by LINX and Intel Research. spamHINTS applies traffic data analysis techniques to identifying spam sources without using content analysis.

Traffic data analysis of radio signals and telephone traffic has long been used by intelligence agencies to locate enemy forces, and by the police to detect organised criminals; but it is still novel to apply these techniques to the Internet.

Dr Clayton said: “Traffic data logs can be analysed to seek out patterns indicative of the sending of spam or copies of email viruses. The patterns of usage between legitimate senders of email and those sending spam and viruses are very different and importantly, analysis can be carried out on just the traffic data without any of the content analysis results at all.”

Having identified spam sources, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) need to co-operate to close down spammers, which is where LINX’s Best Current Practice publication comes in. The BCP document pays particular attention to the processes that ISPs should consider when dealing with the abuse issues caused as a direct result of spam and viruses, while respecting data protection laws and customer confidentiality. It is estimated that over 60% of the 84 billion emails sent each day are spam.

The new information sharing principles together with Dr Clayton’s research demonstrates the continuing commitment of the LINX membership and the industry into fighting spam. Malcolm Hutty, Head of LINX Public Affairs, said: “As always, we are very appreciative for the hard work undertaken on behalf of LINX by the membership. LINX Best Current Practice publications benefit the industry as a whole, and the extraordinary expertise that experts such as Dr Clayton bring to our BCP development continues to be invaluable.”

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