Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Email service providers using geographic tools to warn users of hack attempts

Mark Kellner has an interesting and sobering column on p A5 of the Wednesday June 9 Washington Times, “E-mail violators strike quickly”, link here. The main topic of the article was the possibility of hacking into someone’s email account to send spam, which should be understood separately from spoofing the sender address of email accounts. It would sound as though such activity could put an “innocent” user at risk of losing an account for TOS violations or, in rare cases, prosecution –a possibility of some legal controversy (this might happen too because of simply hacking a person’s Internet or wireless connection; actual prosecutions or job terminations have been rare but have been covered on this blog.)

While preaching the usual morality lesson about using strong passwords and sometimes actually changing them, Kellner also mentions a service offered by some email providers to detect sign-ons to email from locations separated geographically by an unreasonable distance. Google offers this for gmail users, as the company explained on March 10 here.

Another topic of importance in spam control is the effectiveness of captchas. There are many instances where spammers have overcome them (by capturing huge amounts of computing power) , and making them stronger and more effective does seem like an important issue.

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