Definition

KnujOn

The KnujOn Project is an interactive Web-based spam reporting service. By working with the Internet community at large and focusing on shutting down the distribution points for spam, the KnujOn Project hopes to cut off spam at its source. Bob Bruen, Knujon's creator and developer, named the service to reflect its function: "KnujOn" is "no junk" spelled backwards.

Knujon works by gathering and analyzing spam to determine its origin and points of distribution. The service solicits examples of spam from the public, providing individual users and business networks with software that reports incoming spam automatically. KnujOn runs the spam it receives through a process it calls the Policy Enforcement Engine. The Policy Enforcement Engine examines each instance of spam, filters by sending URL to determine origin, and analyzes the message to determine the best course of action. In some cases, KnujOn coordinates with ISPs (Internet service providers) to shut down offending Web servers. By eliminating these transaction platforms and (sometimes) initiating legal action, KnujOn increases operational costs for spammers and lowers the value of unsolicited bulk email (UBE). This approach contrasts with that of Spamhaus, which typically identifies spammers but does not directly address the means of distribution or ISPs.

In the future, KnujOn plans to include banks, and consumer product companies in the service. Typically, KnujOn receives about 20,000 pieces of junk mail a day from more than 2,000 registered subscribers and about the same number of unregistered members. Registration costs $27 annually. Since its founding in 2005, KnujOn's efforts have led to the shutdown of tens of thousands of sites, including those trafficking in the following:

  • Counterfeit or unlicensed prescription drug sales on the Internet
  • Traffic in knockoff, diverted, pirated, and stolen merchandise
  • Predatory lending in the sub-prime and refinance mortgage industry
  • Vacation scams
  • Identity theft

In addition to developing technical tools to address spam, research at KnujOn explores the issues that drive its creation, studying the impact on individual victims as well as the burden on the economy. The challenge that KnujOn and other anti-spam software makers face is simple: Spam works. Currently more than 90% of all global email traffic is spam, with employees in the U.S. spending about 100 hours each year dealing with spam, for a daily loss of $130 million.  The loss of productivity to companies is estimated at $712 per employee, or $71 billion annually to all U.S. businesses.

The chances of getting caught, prosecuted and punished are miniscule in comparison to the potential wealth. According to a Consumer Reports survey, 650,000 people purchased at least one item sold through a spam advertisement in a single month. If the average spam "unit" is $75, that is $48,750,000 per month or $585,000,000 per year. While the majority of Internet users may be blocking and deleting spam, the remainder keep the spammers employed.

This was last updated in December 2007
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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