Federal task force releases

Canada’s crusade against spam has reached a decisive phase with government and industry agreeing to a series of “best practices” to combat the menace.

The best practices guidelines were recently released by the Canadian government’s Task force on Spam that includes representatives from government, as well as industry groups such as the Canadian Cable Telecommunications Association and the Canadian Association of Internet Providers.

Publication of the best practices is widely seen as a milestone in the Anti-Spam Action Plan for Canada – a joint government and private sector initiative to battle spam that was announced last May.

Among other things, the Task Force has urged ISPs and other network operators to:

* Limit by default, the use of port 25 by end-users. If necessary, the ability to send or receive mail over port 25 should be restricted to hosts on the provider’s network;

* Block e-mail file attachments with specific extensions known to carry infections or filter email file attachments based on content properties.

* Actively monitor the volume inbound and outbound email traffic to determine unusual network activity and source of such activity, and respond appropriately; and,

* Establish and consistently maintain an effective and timely process to allow compromised network elements to be managed and eliminated as a source of spam.

The Task force has also called upon all Canadian registrants and hosts of domain names to publish Sender Policy Framework (SPF) information within their respective Domain Name Server (DNS) zone files as soon as possible.

In its struggle against spam the Task Force has adopted a comprehensive approach. It has set up working groups to look at five key issues: legislation and enforcement; technology and network management; validating commercial e-mail; public education and awareness, and international collaboration.

Through these groups, the Task Force on Spam has engaged more than 100 people, representing an additional 60 government, business and consumer organizations.

“Public education and awareness are critical tools in our fight against spam,” said task force member Suzanne Morin, an assistant general counsel with Bell Canada. “We point out a number of straightforward measures that consumers can take to help protect themselves and fight spam.”

As part of its public education program, the group has developed a communications strategy for a consumer campaign. It includes an Internet-based education and awareness campaign directed at a broad consumer audience.

This effort will be comprised of a “Stop Spam Here” icon with a link to tips for consumers and small business that highlight behavior and steps they can take to limit and control the volume of spam in their inboxes, as well as how they can protect themselves from the more dangerous elements associated with spam.

All major ISPs as well as leading information Web sites such as Strategis are expected to use the ‘Stop Spam Here’ icon before the year end.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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