If you have an e-mail box you know what spam is by now. With the recent arrest of Robert "Spam King" Soloway, there's been no lack of information and/or opinions on the web about spam in general. Most of it, like this Wired story, covers why the legal system isn't really making a big dent.
It's certainly a good read if you have the time, here's a tidbit to get you started:
"I believe the answer will lie in following the money. Spammers send spam because it is profitable. When the messages are touting snake-oil cures or illegal pharmaceuticals, someone is banking the dollars from the people who click to buy. When the messages contain spyware that routes private information back to identity thieves, the virus code can reveal where the information goes.
Last year, students in my Cyberlaw Clinic and in Stanford's Computer Science Department banded together to analyze spyware transmissions. It wasn't easy, and maybe was impossible to track some of the off-shore purveyors, but government agencies and private companies with more resources should be able to do the same thing for many spammers."
It still leaves us wondering where 'we' come in. How can the victims of spam really fight back, especially against perpetrators that might be outside of the jurisdiction of anyone that might be willing to listen to our complaints? How can we hit them where it hurts? Can we write those politicians we voted in and expect results? These are all really good questions but there just doesn't seem to be any really good answers at this time.
The only thing that can be said with anything even close certainty is that it's always best to get to the root of a problem before contemplating a solution. What is the real underlying problem for people who try (and sometimes succeed) in scamming people out of money online? Greed? Socioeconomic inequities that characterize the current global economy and/or capitalism in general? If these are major factors then we may have to consider the possibility that we will never be rid of spammers and malware because the conditions that create the problem in the first place may have more benefit than spam is harmful and annoying. We'll keep changing security measures and they'll keep adapting. We'll toss one in jail, more will spring up out of the woodworks.