Book Review: "Ending Spam", Jonathan A. Zdziarski


"Ending Spam", Jonathan A. Zdziarski, 2005, 1-59327-052-6, U$39.95/C$53.95 %A Jonathan A. Zdziarski %C 555 De Haro Street, Suite 250, San Francisco, CA 94107 %D 2005 %G 1-59327-052-6 %I No Starch Press %O U$39.95/C$53.95 415-863-9900 fax 415-863-9950 %O

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Audience s+ Tech 3 Writing 2 (see revfaq.htm for explanation) %P 287 p. %T "Ending Spam"

The preface states that the book is for those seriously interested in spam identification technologies, and concentrates on Bayesian and related statistical filtering.

Part one is an introduction to spam filtering. Chapter one reviews the history of spam, although many of the early entries are simply annoyances or chain letters rather than the commercial or fraudulent items considered under the banner today, and the author does not seem to realize that 419 scams predated email by a considerable margin. A look at the development of spam filtering (excluding Bayesian) is presented in chapter two, along with some non-filtering. Bayesian analysis is explained in chapter three, and the statistical filtering basis is outlined in chapter four.

The fundamental actuarial core is expanded in part two. Chapter five covers message coding. Tokenization, chunking characters into identifiable items, is examined in chapter six. Tricks spammers use to evade filters, and the solutions finding spam despite the deceptions, are outlined in chapter seven. Storage and performance issues raised by the data rules required by statistical filters are addressed in chapter eight. Chapter nine looks at aspects of scaling to systems supporting large numbers of users.

Part three deals with advanced concepts in statistical filtering. Chapter ten delves into testing which, because of the individual and adaptive nature of Bayesian filtering, presents unique challenges. Tokenization is revisited in chapter eleven, in more advanced forms. Markovian discrimination, with its examination of stateful entities, is explained in chapter twelve. Having noted many kinds of features in the book, chapter thirteen explores ways to reduce the items used (and data required) while maintaining accuracy. Collaborative rule- building with other users, groups, or systems is reviewed in chapter fourteen.

As the preface implies, this is *not* a book for users who just want to install POPFile (although that and other programs are explored in an appendix). For those who are seriously involved in managing and developing spam filtering, however, the book does provide very useful advice, pointers, and research.

copyright Robert M. Slade, 2005 BKENDSPM.RVW 20051029

====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer) I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forgo their use - Galileo

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