Fighting the Problem of Unsolicited E-Mail Using a Hashcash Proof-of-Work Approach

Fighting the Problem of Unsolicited E-Mail Using a Hashcash Proof-of-Work Approach

Kevin Curran (University of Ulster at Magee, UK) and John Honan (University of Ulster at Magee, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-274-9.ch014
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Abstract

This chapter investigates the problem of e-mail spam, and identifies methods to minimize the volumes. The analysis focuses on the hashcash proof-of-work approach, and investigates the feasibility of a hashcash-based solution. A potential problem with proof-of-work is that disparity across different powered computers may result in some unfortunate users spending a disproportionately long time calculating a stamp. An experiment is carried out to time how long it takes to calculate stamps across a variety of processor speeds. It is concluded from the analysis of the results that due to this problem of egalitarianism, hashcash (or CPU-bound proof-of-work in general) is not a suitable approach as a stand-alone anti-spam solution. It appears that a hybrid anti-spam system in conjunction with a legal and policy framework is the best approach.

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