Pay-for-email plan taps computational resources

— 12:03 PM on December 29, 2003

Researchers at Microsoft have come up with a novel approach to reducing spam by making emailers pay for postage with computation resources. The system works by forcing email senders to solve a cryptographic puzzle for every email they wish to send; puzzles take 10 to 20 seconds to solve, dramatically reducing the amount of email a single machine can send in a given day.

"If I don't know you, I have to prove to you that I have spent a little bit of time in resources to send you that e-mail.

"When you see that proof, you treat that message with more priority."

Of course, any pay-for-email scheme will need widespread adoption to have a major impact on the volume of unsolicited junk mail. Forcing spammers to pay for email with computational resources may encourage efforts to hijack insecure PCs for their potential puzzle-crunching power, too.
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