Services, abuse and bears
A couple weeks ago I wrote a post about handling abuse complaints. As a bit of a throwaway I mentioned that new companies don’t always think about how their service can be abused before releasing it on the unsuspecting internet.
Today’s blog post by Margot Romary at the Return Path In the Know blog reminds me that it’s not always new companies that don’t think about abuse potential before launching services.
I don’t have enough fingers to count the instances over the years when — in running one of the largest email systems in the world at my previous employer — I had to shut down a new product launch because the peer initiated email feature of this new product was insecure.
Margo also points out that networks that allow peer-initiated messages have an average of over 20 spamtraps per IP address. The only surprise about this statistic is how low it is. Margot mentions spammer abuse as one of the primary reasons, but I don’t think every form used by Return Path clients is actually open to spammer abuse. Yes, thinking about how to spammer proof peer-submission is important. But it’s as important to think about how to stop submitters from inadvertently hurting your reputation.
It’s not just forms that have problems, social networking sites also see problems with users and spammers abusing their services.
No security is going to be perfect. After years and years of this, all the people who fight abuse can do is acknowledge that we’re never going to actually stop spammers, scammers and criminals from attacking and compromising services. We are never going to outrun the bear. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about erecting as many fences and obstacles as possible.