Connecting a computer to the Internet is a task for the brave. Phishing, spam, worms, Trojan horses, and a wide variety of threats endanger our computers when we plug in our Ethernet wires or access wireless networks.
Among these threats, spam is one of the worst. On one side, spammers try to deceive us to obtain property or services unjustly by flooding our email accounts with thousands of undesired emails; on the other side, spam filters aim to protect us from this threat. However, spammers progressively refine their fraudulent methods; therefore, improving filters and designing new countermeasures has become a must.
A good strategy to fight against spam is to teach computer scientists and engineers how spammers work. To do so, the authors have designed the Spamulator: a network simulator that aims to help students understand the mysteries of spam. The authors present the Spamulator as a very flexible tool to simulate the Internet on a laptop. The proposed simulator seems to scale properly due to its lightweight design, and the authors assure us that, due to its extensibility, it could be used as a research tool. However, there is no evidence in the paper to support this claim. Unfortunately, I have not been able to test the Spamulator, but, according to the authors, it performs well even on older computers. It appears to be a very interesting teaching tool.
The benefits of the Spamulator for teaching the secrets of spam in a realistic way are evident: scalability, extensibility, and simplicity. However, the usefulness of this simulator for research purposes has not been demonstrated yet. It does appear to be a very promising starting point, though.