Skip to main content
Delete Them All and Let God Decide

It came as a surprise, reducing my Spam burden by 70% that is. For me at least, the war is over, almost. Unsolicited email in my inbox has, this summer, overtaken legitimate email and now everything is shunted into my deleted folder until I choose to move it elsewhere.

Actually, this is not intentional but having turned Outlook’s Spam filter on, I can’t turn it off, even with help from Microsoft, who concede that it’s filters might be a little temperamental and so I’m stuck with everything going straight into the trash can as it arrives, which works quite well in a strange sort of way.

Back briefly then to the miracle of cutting down on junk mail. My wife has a BTconnect email address that I set-up for her and which has never been used. Any mail it might receive is forwarded to my inbox but this address is also my single largest source of junk mail. Why is this I wonder? I can see that her address on the distribution list for the multiple Viagra and Prozac offers don’t appear to suggest a dictionary attack on BT .Other names alongside hers, include am*, a* and a* so it’s clearly a distribution list of many thousands of names, starting with the letter ‘A’. Is it a question of a lucky guess or has the BT subscriber list fallen into the hands of a bulk emailer using one of many aliases or ?

Eight years ago, when I was a Director of a large ISP, we received a call from the Metropolitan Police Computer Crime Unit. They told us that all our subscriber account details were sitting on a Usenet hacker forum. It was a nasty surprise, we had been hacked and we didn’t even know about it.

Hacking, in the days before Internet Explorer became popular and Netscape Navigator was the new software superstar, was rather easier than it is today. Security resembled comic opera, because the Internet revolution was in the hands of a small number of technically skilled enthusiasts who led the business community around by their noses.

Today, it should be different, in theory at least. I should be able to create an email address which isn’t an obvious name, like ‘John_Smith’ on any ISP and expect it to be relatively safe unless I’m gullible enough to respond to a message from like the following:

Tired of Spam? We have an answer’. The "Do Not Spam" List from Global Removal, found at: can get your email address removed from hundreds of bulk-email lists’.

This is almost as convincing as this morning’s: “You are attached to ticket number 023-0148-790-459, with serial number 5073-11 drew the lucky numbers 43-11-44-37-10-43, and have therefore been approved for a lump sum pay out of US$5,500.000.00 in cash”.

From a business perspective, the answer may be to keep one email address strictly for commercial use and use a second alias for everything else. There’s no guarantee, if you happen to be using an ISP, rather than a corporate messaging server, that your address won’t somehow leak out to the Viagra set but for many of us, it’s too late to change a well-established address without instantly confusing hundreds if not thousands of contacts.

Perhaps the best solution is to follow me and try Outlook’s quirky spam filter, which may immediately and irrevocably declare all your incoming email to be junk. ‘Delete them all and let God decide’ may finally prove to be the practical answer in the fight against spam.


Popular posts from this blog

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.

In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …

The Big Steal

I’m not here to predict the future;” quipped the novelist, Ray Bradbury. “I’m here to prevent it.” And the future looks much like one where giant corporations who hold the most data, the fastest servers, and the greatest processing power will drive all economic growth into the second half of the century.

We live in an unprecedented time. This in the sense that nobody knows what the world will look like in twenty years; one where making confident forecasts in the face of new technologies becomes a real challenge. Before this decade is over, business leaders will face regular and complex decisions about protecting their critical information and systems as more of the existing solutions they have relied upon are exposed as inadequate.

The few real certainties we have available surround the uninterrupted march of Moore’s Law - the notion that the number of transistors in the top-of-the-line processors doubles approximately every two years - and the unpredictability of human nature. Exper…