How to whitelist well-managed mailing lists

Gary Mills mills@cc.UManitoba.CA
Tue May 28 22:54:02 UTC 2002


On Tue, May 28, 2002 at 04:03:52PM -0600, Vernon Schryver wrote:
> > From: Gary Mills <mills@cc.UManitoba.CA>
> 
> > I'm not proposing to do this all myself.
> 
> Someone will have to accept primary responsibility for getting it
> started and working.  Things assigned to "The Community,"
> "The Committee," or even "us" never get done.

Yes, I agree.  Any volunteers?  Actually, at this stage a small group
of people would be appropriate.  They could determine if the idea is
feasible, and what has to happen next.  Where would be a good place
to get additional input?

> >                                           I'm thinking of a shared
> > distributed database, modeled on the DCC checksum database, or the
> > DNS-based mail relay blacklists.
> 
> I trust that's not making the common mistake of confounding distributed
> network protocols with cooperative efforts.

Oh, I probably am.  I'm just brainstorming at this point.
I appreciate your thoughtful feedback.

>					I see no room for an
> automated system like the DCC in a cooperative white list.  Every
> entry in any useful white or blacklist of mail sources must be associated
> with a responsible person.  To have responsible people for entries,
> you cannot have more than a few people involved.  By the time you have
> more than several dozen people with the authority to change such a
> list, you have something like an automobile driver's license, Microsoft
> system administration or programming certificates, and those Cisco
> certificates of network expertise.  None of those offer any guarantee
> of competence or even good intentions that anyone sane cares about.

I'm wondering now if a `checksum' model would work for a whitelist?
It would have to be a type of checksum that focuses on the similarities
between successive messages from a specific mailing list, and ignores
the parts that vary.  It may even be possible to generate the checksums
automatically from messages sent to a subscriber.

> Besides, every entry such a list must have sufficient supporting
> documentation so that any user of the list can determine whether to
> override any given entry, and that sort of thing doesn't fit well with
> automated things like the DCC that want to deal with 1,000,000s 
> or at least 100,000s of new entries per day.
> 
> A model like that used by MAPS or SPEWS is needed, where the list is
> distributed by the computers from an authoritative source.  The
> supporting documentation for a bulk mail whitelist might be distributed
> with the list itself, because the list might be smaller than SPEWS or
> the RSS.

Yes, there would need to be a chain of trust, which requires only
a limited about of delegation.  Yes, the volume for a whitelist would
be smaller and the entries less dynamic than for a blacklist.

-- 
-Gary Mills-    -Unix Support-    -U of M Academic Computing and Networking-



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