[ISN] REVIEW: "Fighting Spam for Dummies", John R. Levine/Margaret Levine Young/Ray Everett-Church

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Tue Aug 24 02:39:17 EDT 2004

Forwarded from: "Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Hannah" <rslade at sprint.ca>

BKFTSPDM.RVW   20040719

"Fighting Spam for Dummies", John R. Levine/Margaret Levine Young/Ray
Everett-Church, 2004, 0-7645-5965-6, U$14.99/C$21.99/UK#9.99
%A   John R. Levine www.iecc.com/johnl
%A   Margaret Levine Young www.gurus.com/margy
%A   Ray Everett-Church www.everett.org
%C   5353 Dundas Street West, 4th Floor, Etobicoke, ON   M9B 6H8
%D   2004
%G   0-7645-5965-6
%I   John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
%O   U$14.99/C$21.99/UK#9.99 416-236-4433 fax: 416-236-4448
%O  http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0764559656/robsladesinterne
%O   http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0764559656/robsladesin03-20
%P   222 p.
%T   "Fighting Spam for Dummies"

Part one introduces the world of spam.  Chapter one tells us that spam
is bad and that spammers like to do it, but there is little substance
to the material and a lot of oddly spam-like verbiage.  Even though
the authors outline the "dictionary" process (that generates addresses
on a semi-random basis) in chapter two, they insist on trotting out
the usual recommendations to limit exposure and prevent address
harvesting.  A confusing look at US law, in chapter three, says that
the situation is confused.  Chapter four does provide information
about obtaining and deciphering email headers, but the attempts to be
funny make it hard to understand.

Part two deals with filtering spam.  Chapter five has a generic
description of filtering, but there is little useful content. 
Chapters six to ten describe menu items related to filtering in the
Outlook, Netscape, Eudora, AOL, Hotmail, and Yahoo programs.

Part three looks at filtering programs and services.  Chapter eleven
has a terse review list of major filtering programs (with some odd
exceptions: SpamAssassin is not mentioned), a few spam filter review
sites, and fairly detailed descriptions of POPfile and Spam Bully.  A
reasonable, if brief, outline of filtering services is given in
chapter twelve.  Chapter thirteen touches on a few items not
previously detailed, but it is far from being a useful guide to the
network and email administrators that it supposedly addresses.

Part four is the usual "Part of Tens."  Chapter fourteen lists the
most common spam scams.  The list of annoyances in chapter fifteen is
mostly unrelated to spam.  (For the one that is, dealing with popups,
some fairly complex solutions are listed, and a simple one is missed--
turning off JavaScript and ActiveX works great.  The cost to the user
will vary with patterns of activity.)

This book does provide some pointers to software based assistance with
spam filtering and removal.  However, even in relation to the
minuscule size of the book the content is very thin.  Repetition,
editorializing, and attempted humour take the place of substantive

"Stopping Spam" (cf. BKSTPSPM.RVW) and "Removing the Spam" (cf.
BKRMSPAM.RVW) are from an older era, and address the issue from a
perspective of users who were more used to manual email controls, as
well as a time when spam was not the overwhelming majority of email. 
Even so, they dealt with the issue realistically and informatively,
which this book does not.  The current work is better than nothing,
but only just.

copyright Robert M. Slade, 2004   BKFTSPDM.RVW   20040719

======================  (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
rslade at vcn.bc.ca      slade at victoria.tc.ca      rslade at sun.soci.niu.edu
I've got a PhD and no one listens.  I take off my clothes off,
and here you all are.           - Briony Penn to the media, 20010123
http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev    or    http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade

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