TMDA Knocks Out the Spam

Tired of spam in your inbox? Lord knows I am. Recently a variety of systems have sprung up to try and deal with spam. One clever system figures out what every piece of email coming to a server looks like (it generates a unique hash of the message) and then it shares that with other email servers. When they find matches they can pick out spam that is coming to lots of people.
A perhaps better method is that used by TMDA. It extends what is already common in the world of instant messaging to email. In most instant messaging systems I can send you an message even if I am not on your list, but it is a simple matter for you the user to check a single box and exclude messages from all users who you have not included on your buddy list. So it’s a very exclusive club of whom you allow to send you messages and you get basically no spam on ICQ, AIM, etc. TMDA extends that slightly because you so often get email from new people and you don’t want to exclude them out of hand. The sender gets a confirmation email back from the server when they try to send a message to you. If they don’t respond to the confirmation email you don’t get the original message. Of course a spammer can build an automated system to respond to the confirmation emails but he/she suddenly has at least two things to deal with that weren’t a requirement before. First is that the spam emails sent to you must have a valid return email address on them for the confirmation to get back to them, that makes it much easier to identify and block spammers than it has been in the past. Second is that it means the spammer is having to deal with a potentially huge influx of email as well as outflow. The spammer’s traffic just tripled for recipients who use TMDA because there is the original message, the incoming confirmation, and the confirmation reply. That additional traffic will increase the cost of doing business as a spammer and inevitably reduce the number of spam messages that can be sent.
TMDA is written in Python so it seems like it could be run on any operating system on any machine but currently the website for it only talks about Linux. Ultimately though, it would be nice to see this packaged up and made easy to install for end users. Then users could run Zone Alarm for a personal firewall and TMDA could be their personal spam blocker.

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One thought on “TMDA Knocks Out the Spam

  1. Jason R. Mastaler

    > TMDA is written in Python so it seems like it
    > could be run on any operating system on any
    > machine but currently the website for it only
    > talks about Linux.
    Really? I’m curious as to how you got this
    impression. I don’t even use Linux on a regular
    basis myself.
    Thanks,
    Jason (TMDA’s author)

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