Why webmail is going to spam?

Email is the primary means of communication for many people and it’s still the preferred way to communicate with business associates or customers. The number of email users keeps growing, but at the same time, we face a real problem: even though we have more and more mailboxes, their amount of spam becomes bigger and bigger. This affects our productivity and wastes our time.

What’s wrong? Email communication is based on the SMTP protocol and this protocol has a problem: it allows almost anyone to send email using another person’s mailbox without permission. This became possible because historically there were no strict rules about mailboxes ownership verification. Every server owner could just pick up an abandoned mailbox, install his own SMTP server and send not wanted messages.

The situation changed when major Internet providers started to block traffic from dynamic IP addresses (Internet users who have no static IP address), as they realized that many of these dynamic IP’s were used for spamming activities. But some spammers countered this measure by using open proxies, relaying their mail through other people’s servers.

The response of major ISPs was to institute a blocking based on an open proxy list, containing IP addresses that are known to be used for spamming activities or other abusive activities (for example sending unsolicited mail through someone else’s mailbox). This made the life of spammers more complicated, but some of them developed new tactics, like using hijacked machines (infected with Trojan-horse viruses) to send spam, or using webmails to send spam.

Hijacked machines are not an easy target for ISPs; they require coordinated actions from law enforcement agencies and from other Internet providers. But the case of webmail is different: it’s a loophole that can be closed quickly by changing SMTP standards.

If webmail is going to spam, why can’t we just shut it down? Unfortunately, there are hundreds of thousands of legitimate webmail users who have a right to communicate using their email accounts and they will not stand for being cut off from this method of communication.

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