Tech Nous Wham… Spam! But What Else?

The internet is still spying on my computer. First the Cookie Monster dumped its load of cookies on my unsuspecting hard-drive to pry on my web-surfing habits (see last month’s column). Then just few weeks ago, I was back at the repair shop to extract another crop of nasty system-sapping files that had mysteriously popped up, and to install yet another program that hopefully has the grunt to repel any future attacks.
The web is turning into minefield, and we need to be on guard at all times, both individually and corporately. It’s not just the high profile viruses, worms and trojans we must be aware of, it’s those insidious little files that piggyback on downloads. And then, of course, there is spam, the junk mail of cyberspace.
In November 2003, Brightmail (a company that filters around 15 percent of the world’s internet email traffic) identified more than half of the 77 billion email messages it filtered as spam – accounting for 56 percent of all internet email on worldwide basis, and 51 percent in the Asia Pacific region. Considering the volume of email traffic Brightmail filters, I think it’s reasonable to extrapolate this ratio of spam to legitimate email to the world’s internet traffic (internal corporate email or service provider networks are excluded from these figures).
Other interesting statistics emerged from Brightmail’s survey. For instance, 22 percent of all spam offers or advertises goods and services; 17 percent contains references or offers related to money, the stock market or other financial ‘opportunities’; while 16 percent is ‘adult’ email.
More than 80 percent of spam originates in North America, but it is truly worldwide problem. Australia recently passed spam-blocking legislation, but the lawmakers really don’t have all the answers. Anti-spam software is now necessity, and the market should be better informed about what spam is and how it can be controlled. Brightmail is doing its best to control the problem on global scale, and claims to block more than two billion spam messages every day using secret decoy email addresses seeded throughout the internet.
But enough on the negative side of technology. The year promises to deliver wealth of new developments and enhancements to existing technologies. I have already experienced the pleasure of operating my first digital camera (a FinePix S5000), and test-driven Microsoft’s wireless optical desktop keyboard and mouse. This is not the standard edition, but the executive version which features leather-look palm rest and mouse cover, and new tilt-wheel technology for horizontal and vertical scrolling with your right hand (on the mouse) or your left hand (on the keyboard). It’s device befitting the desk of any image-conscious CEO.
The camera was child’s play to operate. My kids took over photo duties on our Christmas holiday and I’m picking that there will be significant cost-savings in developing and printing – provided I resist the temptation to purchase photo printer.
And still on the subject of new technology – look out for Toshiba’s latest offerings, released late last year, including the e800 Pocket PC with the world’s first four-inch screen; Toshiba’s next generation Tablet PC with optional docking station; and new 5GB PC Card hard disk drive which gives notebook users additional portable storage and increased mobility. All on form factor that’s smaller than credit card.

Glenn Baker is regular contributor to Management.
Email: [email protected]

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