Fighting Spam to Build Trust
Policy Report | May 27, 2011
“When Presidents Obama and Hu Jintao met last January, they called for the U.S. and China to cooperate on cybersecurity,” says EWI’s Chief Technology Officer Karl Rauscher. “In anticipation of this need, over a year ago we brought U.S. and Chinese experts together on this major cyberspace challenge.”
The results are strong joint recommendations for fighting spam – an underrated problem in cyberspace according to Rauscher, who led the bilateral process with Yonglin Zhou, Director of the Internet Society of China’s Network and Information Security Committee. Spam, which comprises as much as 90% of all email messages carried in networks, irritates end-users, clogs networks and carries the malicious codes used by hackers for fraud and other crimes.
To fight spam, the experts made two key recommendations: first, the creation of an international forum to deal with spam; second, that network operators, Internet service providers and email providers follow 46 mutually-agreed upon best practices. Those best practices include the creation of international protocols to weed out spam from legitimate messages; consumer education about botnets; and that ISPs in both countries use feedback loops to discourage spam.
“People from all nations have to fight spam. With international collaboration, we can dramatically increase the effectiveness of our efforts to stop spam, botnets and other cyber threats,” says Zhou.
Fighting Spam to Build Trust will be one of the topics at EWI’s Second Cybersecurity Summit, to be held on June 1-2 in London. The summit has attracted more than 400 participants, including top government, industry and technical experts from 43 countries. At the summit, breakthrough groups, one of which will be chaired by Jerry Upton of the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG), will discuss how to set up the forum and implement the best practices.
EWI’s China-U.S. team will continue its collaboration, going on to address a series of more difficult and complex cybersecurity challenges in the coming months.
The team leaders see their work as more than a series of practical solutions to a pressing problem. According to Rauscher and Zhou, “In a time when most can only see a grim, downward spiral of recrimination when it comes to all things cyber, this report is the product of cooperation and offers some hope for an improved relationship between China and the U.S.”