ISPs Unite Against Spam

By Sean Michael Kerner

While lawmakers recently passed the Can-Spam act to control the spread of unwanted messages and malicious code, industry groups are trying to do their part too. The newest such group, the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG), was announced today.

Led by Openwave , the group includes telecoms and Internet service providers, including Abranet, Bell Canada, Bell South, Cox, Internet Initiative Japan, Telus and IIJ America. MAAWG’s members represent 80 million subscribers and 40 million email accounts.

MAAWG is the first step in an effort to align messaging industry stakeholders. MAAWG will plan actions for carrier-class spam protection, develop best practices and technology and present a unified point of view on public policy.

“We must move from reactive to proactive approaches to solving these issues and tackle this collaboratively to create a unified front to make systemic progress,” Rich Wong, Openwave’s general manager of messaging applications, said in a statement.

IP spoofing is a particular problem that the group will focus on. The latest Xombe attack and its predecessor SWEN have been particularly successful because they used spoofing techniques.

Spoofing makes spam or a DoS attack appear to be coming from a different IP or email address than the attacker’s. In the Xombe and SWEN cases, the spam spoofs a Microsoft email address to fool users into downloading a trojan.

Openwave is no stranger to partnerships of this kind. Last month, it allied with Brightmail to detect spam before it reached users’ in-boxes.

Of course, MAAWG is not the only anti-spam industry group. In April, AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft formed their own anti-spam group. But it has yet to publish any specific proposals.

Microsoft has been widely criticized for security flaws in its programs that spammers continue to exploit.

MAAWG comes at opportune time as the global Spam and Virus onslaught appears likely to intensify this year.

“Spammers are united, sharing ideas and technology. We need to do the same thing — to unite and aggressively raise the bar in our opposition,” said Nick Jacobs, director of data services at NII Holdings, said in a MAAWG statement.

MAAWG will have a global summit in the spring to discuss progress and future steps.

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