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IP Blocklists, Email, and IPv6

Engineers in the Internet Engineering Task Force, in the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group, and elsewhere have been debating how to handle e-mail-server blocklists in an IPv6 network. Let's take a look at the problem here. We basically have three ways to address spam, in our goal of reducing the amount of spam in our inboxes... more

Kidnapping, Theft and Rape Are Not "Cyber" Crimes

Kidnap. Rape. There are no lesser words that can be used to describe what happened to the daughter of an anti-spam investigator in Russia. His daughter was recently released, according to Joseph Menn's recent article on Boing Boin, after having been kidnapped from her home five years ago, fed drugs, and made to service men, as a warning to ward off further investigations. The criminals behind these vicious acts were also responsible for large spamming organization associated with Russian Mob activity. more

Think China Is the Highest Spamming Country? Think Again

In my department, we block about 92% of our total email (around 2.5 billion per day) at the network edge without accepting the message. When we do that, we don't see any traffic from that IP anymore and don't keep stats on it due to the overwhelming volume of mail. However, we do keep stats on mail that we block with our content filter. I decided to go and calculate how much spam we receive from each country by mapping the source IP back to its source country... more

Huge Increase in Spam in October Email

You may have read reports that the total amount of spam is on the decline. Don't believe them. In the month of October, I saw the amount of spam in my traps here roughly double, from about 50,000 per day to 100,000/day now. In conversations with managers at both ISPs and corporate networks, I'm hearing the same thing. more

Why I Want a .PAYPAL New gTLD

I use Paypal, and I am quite satisfied with how it helps me with my business: it is still a little hard to use, and I don't use all functions of the tool, but it is not so expensive, it is fast and efficient, and Paypal does not send so many emails. In one word, Paypal rocks... The only problem that I have with Paypal is the number of fake emails that I receive. Of course, I easily identify them as they come in and luckily, G Suite (Gmail) does an excellent job at blocking all spam and phishing. more

Oklahoma Spammer Fighter Loses Even Worse

Last December I wrote about Mark Mumma, who runs a small web hosting company in Oklahoma City and his battle with Omega World Travel a/k/a cruise.com. Mumma lost his CAN SPAM suit agains them in December, but Omega's countersuit for defamation went to trial last week, and I hear that the jury awarded Omega $2.5 million in damages, which Mumma is not likely to be able to pay. This may be painted in some circles as a huge defeat for anti-spam activists, but it's not... more

ICANN Ordered by Illinois Court to Suspend Spamhaus.org

Apparently, at this stage, it is only a proposed ruling. But I am no lawyer. This story has been discussed before, when Spamhaus, which is located in the UK, was sued in the US by a spammer. They refused to come before the court as "they do no business in Illinois, and are located in the UK...After this court ruling, Spamhaus.org was under a DDoS attack, in my opinion for the purpose of preventing users from reaching the information it provided about the court ruling. This was done along-side a Joe Job, sending fake email appearing to come from Spamhaus's CEO... more

Does CAN-SPAM Really Matter?

As a daily and enthusiastic reader of The New York Times, I was disappointed to read their February 1 article on CAN-SPAM entitled, "Law Barring Junk E-Mail Allows a Flood Instead" (subscription required). The theme of the article was, as the title suggests, that enacting CAN-SPAM was worse than having no laws at all. The article really missed the point on several fronts. more

An Interview with the Lead Developer of SPF - Part II

CircleID recently interviewed Meng Weng Wong, the lead developer of Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and founder of Pobox.com. As one of the leading anti spam authentication schemes, SPF is used by companies such as AOL, Earthlink, SAP and supported by anti spam companies such as Sophos, Symantec, Brightmail, IronPort, Ciphertrust, MailArmory, MailFrontier, Roaring Penguin Software, and Communigate Pro. Last month, Microsoft announced its agreement to merge Caller ID, its own proposed anti spam authentication scheme, with SPF -- the joint standard is called 'Sender ID'. In this two-part interview, Meng Wong explains how SPF got started, where it is today and what could be expected in the future of email. more

The Cycle of E-Mail Security

Stepping back from the DMARC arguments, it occurs to me that there is a predictable cycle with every new e-mail security technology... Someone invents a new way to make e-mail more secure, call it SPF or DKIM or DMARC or (this month's mini-fiasco) PGP in DANE. Each scheme has a model of the way that mail works. For some subset of e-mail, the model works great, for other mail it works less great. more

IP Address Reputation Primer

There has been a lot of recent discussions and questions about reputation, content and delivery of email. I started to answer some of them, and then realized there weren't any basic reference documents I could refer to when explaining the interaction. So I decided to write some. This post is about IP address reputation with some background on why IPs are so important and why ISPs focus so heavily on the sending IP. more

ARF is Now an IETF Standard

When a user of a large mail system such as AOL, Yahoo, or Hotmail reports a message as junk or spam, one of the things the system does is to look at the source of the message and see if the source is one that has a feedback loop (FBL) agreement with the mail system. If so, it sends a copy of the message back to the source, so they can take appropriate action, for some version of appropriate. For several years, ARF, Abuse Reporting Format, has been the de-facto standard form that large mail systems use to exchange FBL reports about user mail complaints. more

An Unwelcome Afterlife for a Long-Dead Blacklist

There's still a few weeks before Halloween, but have we ever got a scary story for you -- and every word of it is true. (Imagine we're sitting around a campfire, chowing down on s'mores, flashlights under our faces.) Seven years ago, on this very internet, there was a man named Matthew who was angry about spam. Now sure, there are lots of people angry about spam, and some of them are named Matthew, but this particular Matthew decided that he was going to do something about it... more

DKIM for Discussion Lists

There's a pernicious meme floating around that DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) doesn't work with discussion lists, particularly those hosted on common open source software packages like MailMan. It's particularly odd to see this claim after I set it up successfully on a stock Debian server in less than half an hour, just a few weeks ago. Here's how it can, should, and does work. more

Phishers Now Targeting Domain Registrars

This is an issue of some concern and should be watched carefully: phishers are now trying to get passwords of domain registrants (domain owners). Currently, correspondents inform me that GoDaddy is the target, but there's no reason to think the phishers won't expand to other registrars. Normally, phishers go after bank accounts or other financial information, or sometimes the online accounts of users so that they may send spam. It's not known precisely why phishers are after domain registration information, but the possibilities are chilling... more