SAN FRANCISCO, March 28, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Dave Rand, who co-founded the industry’s first reputation-based, anti-spam company and co-founded the first ISP to ban unsolicited junk mail, was honored with the lifetime M3AAWG Mary Litynski Award at the Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group’s 42nd General Meeting in San Francisco last month. Rand is one of the internet’s first anti-spammers and has been fighting online abuse for three decades.

“The internet was in its infancy when Dave took these stands, which were both brave and showed great foresight. At the time, different industry stakeholders fervently disagreed on whether marketers should be able to send email to users without their consent.  Each side hotly contested their view as the right one. Eventually, the volume of junk mail exploded, threatening both the email infrastructure and users’ patience, and the industry consensus shifted to the opt-in model recommended in the M3AAWG senders best practices and that Dave advocated for so many years ago,” M3AAWG Chairman of the Board Severin Walker said. 

In the early 1990s, Rand and internet pioneer Dr. Paul Vixie cofounded the first reputation-based DNS blacklist service that identifies IP addresses associated with abusive and junk messages, known as MAPS (Mail Abuse Prevention System – “spam” spelled backwards).  Its Real-time Blackhole list (RBL) is one of the best-known anti-spam services and is still widely used today by millions of people around the world.  But at the time, this innovative approach was extremely controversial and the nonprofit organization faced significant challenges from spammers and others within the industry.

In presenting the award, Dr. Vixie, Farsight Security Chairman, CEO and Cofounder; Internet Hall of Fall Inductee and M3AAWG member, said, “Dave has dedicated his life to improving how we live our lives on the internet. If there was a problem and Dave knew how to solve it in a way that was successful for the online community, even if there wasn’t any money to be made, he just did it.  Thanks to his sacrifice, expertise and hard work, we all enjoy a better world because of his contributions.”

At a time when the internet was just coming out of academia and military use to be available to the general public, Rand took a strong stand to protect end-users:

  • As co-founder of AboveNet, he managed the first ISP to filter spam on its network, proving to other internet service providers the profitability and business value of fighting abusive mail
  • He tirelessly ran MAPS and dedicated time to identifying abusive IP addresses, taking spammers’ complaint calls, and developing the organization’s long-term survival strategy
  • His company developed the first anti-spam customer policy
  • As the first anti-spam company, MAPS launched the anti-abuse industry and provided the initial training to many other pioneers who went on to develop other approaches to fighting cybercrime

In his acceptance remarks Rand said, “We had bomb threats and death threats, but we made a difference and created a line in the sand.  And it hasn’t been just about spam.  By the late 1990s, I realized this wasn’t going to be a simple ‘turn-the-handle and its done’ project.  It was something that needed to be addressed over the long-term.  Today, the topology has changed but the principle is the same and now it’s about standing up to malware in a much more complex environment.”

Rand also made great strides in other technological areas.  He co-developed the PC532, an early home computer based on a faster National Semiconductor microprocessor that was made available to hobbyists and early industry adapters. He co-developed EtherValve and MRTG, technologies to monitor and control bandwidth flow, and in 2004 he founded Bungi Communications, Inc. that provided IP transit services.

Anti-Spam MAPS Comes into the World

MAPS got its start in the early 1990s when spam began to appear regularly on the internet. Cofounder Vixie started compiling abusive IP addresses to share with other system admins that did not want junk mail on their networks. Cofounder Rand, through his ISP AboveNet, was Vixie’s first subscriber and provided regular updates to help maintain the accuracy and breadth of the spam list.

Rand and Vixie ran MAPS as part of AboveNet. “At MAPS, our employees were underpaid, over worked, and didn’t have enough equipment. They were the real heroes.  And I’m proud that many of them have gone on to develop new ways of fighting spam and to cultivate new companies,” Rand said. The MAPS work continued and was improved over the years, providing additional protection to millions of online users. 

“I remember getting seven or eight spam emails a week in 1995.  Today I see more than two million a day in my filters. The industry coming together to collaborate in fighting abuse and spam is more important than ever.  Thank you for your efforts,” Rand said at the recent M3AAWG meeting.

The 2018 M3AAWG Mary Litynski Award was presented to Rand on February 20 during the four-day M3AAWG meeting that attracted 590 attendees from 26 countries.  The next M3AAWG meeting will be June 4-7, 2018 in Munich, Germany.

The award is presented annually to recognize the life-time achievements of a person whose work has significantly contributed to the safety of the online community.  More information about the M3AAWG award program that recognizes industry achievements protecting end-users is available at https://www.m3aawg.org/awards.

About the Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group (M3AAWG)

The Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group (M3AAWG) is where the industry comes together to work against bots, malware, spam, viruses, denial-of-service attacks and other online exploitation. M3AAWG (www.m3aawg.org) members represent more than one billion mailboxes from some of the largest network operators worldwide. It leverages the depth and experience of its global membership to tackle abuse on existing networks and new emerging services through technology, collaboration and public policy. It also works to educate global policy makers on the technical and operational issues related to online abuse and messaging. Headquartered in San Francisco, Calif., M3AAWG is driven by market needs and supported by major network operators and messaging providers.

Media Contact: Linda Marcus, APR, +1-714-974-6356 (U.S. Pacific), LMarcus@astra.cc, Astra Communications

M3AAWG Board of Directors: AT&T ; Cloudmark, Inc.; Comcast; Endurance International Group; Facebook; Google; LinkedIn; Marketo, Inc.; Microsoft Corp.; Oath (Yahoo and AOL); Orange; Proofpoint; Rackspace; Return Path; SendGrid, Inc.; Vade Secure and Verisign.

M3AAWG Full Members: 1&1 Internet AG; Agora, Inc.; Akamai Technologies; Cisco Systems, Inc.; CloudFlare; Cyren; eDataSource Inc.; ExactTarget, Inc.; IBM; iContact/Vocus; Inteliquent; Internet Initiative Japan (IIJ); Liberty Global; Listrak; Litmus; McAfee Inc.; Mimecast; Oracle Marketing Cloud; OVH; PayPal; Spamhaus; SparkPost; Splio; Symantec; USAA; and Valimail.

A complete member list is available at http://www.m3aawg.org/about/roster.