Architecture, Application Security, Network security, Threats, Malware

Joint U.S.-China anti-spam report due next month

February 28, 2011

In a rare alliance, Chinese and American technology experts are working to curb spam.

And next month, they plan to release a joint report, “Fighting Spam to Build Trust,” the first product of bilateral talks between members of the EastWest Institute, a global think tank with locations in New York, Brussels and Moscow, and the Internet Society of China, a consortium of Chinese technology companies.

The report offers spam-reduction recommendations for senior policymakers, network operators, internet service providers (ISPs) and members of the private sector, Karl Rauscher, CTO of the EastWest Institute, who co-led the discussions, told SCMagazineUS.com on Monday.

“This is the first time the United States and China have worked together to fight spam,” Rauscher said.

Specifically, the report calls for the creation of protocols to distinguish legitimate messages from spam and encourages ISPs in both countries to use “feedback loops” to allow email recipients to blacklist suspicious senders, Rauscher said. In addition, the report will emphasize the private sector's role in reducing spam and call for consumer education around the risk of botnets.

Unwanted emails remain a significant problem, accounting for around 87 to 95 percent of all email, Michael O'Reirdan, chairman of the nonprofit Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG), told SCMagazineUS.com on Monday. Spam also has become a prime vector for malware distribution.

MAAWG held a conference last week in Orlando, Fla., where the report was first previewed.

Those involved in the report's creation chose to focus on mitigating spam because China has made strides to reduce the proliferation of unsolicited email in recent years, even as internet use rapidly has spread throughout the country.

“This cooperative effort will not end with this report,” Yonglin Zhou, director of the network security committee of the Internet Society of China, who co-led the talks with Rauscher, said in a statement. “Rather, it is a part of an ongoing process between Chinese and United States experts to open dialogue and foster mutual understanding.”

The United States is the world's top purveyor of spam, according to a recent Sophos study. China did not make the top-12 list, but the Asian recently ranked as the top hoster of web links contained in unwanted mail, according to an IBM X-Force Report.

Meanwhile, President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao last month issued a joint statement agreeing to cooperate further on cybersecurity issues.

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