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What Next for Email Service Providers?

It's been a very bad month for ESPs, companies that handle bulk mailings for their clients. Several of them have had internal security breaches, leaking client information, client mailing lists, or both. Many have also seen clients compromised, with the compromised credentials used to send spam. The sequence of events suggests all the ESPs whose clients were compromised were themselves compromised first. (That's how the crooks knew who to attack.) more

9 Thoughts on Stepping Up Spam and Malware Enforcement

In a tweet, EU commissioner for the Information Society Neelie Kroes congratulates OPTA on the spam fine for the golf ball printing company Backsound. Since 2004 the Dutch OPTA is the number one spam and malware fighter of the EU with a total of €1.9 million in fines. It made me ask two question to myself: How come that we seldom hear of other spam fines in the EU? And can the EU change this in any way? more

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

Real. Or. Phish?

After Epsilon lost a bunch of customer lists, I've been keeping an eye open to see if any of the vendors I work with had any of my email addresses stolen -- not least because it'll be interesting to see where this data ends up. Recently I got mail from Marriott, telling me that "unauthorized third party gained access to a number of Epsilon's accounts including Marriott's email list."... more

ESP Compromises and Their Lack of Security

Over at Word to the Wise, Laura Atkins has a post up where she talks about the real problem with ESPs and their lack of internal security procedures which resulted in the breach of many thousands of email addresses (especially Epsilon). However, Atkins isn't only criticizing ESP's lack of security but also the industry's response wherein they have suggested countermeasures that are irrelevant to the problem.  more

Why the Fukushima Analogy Was Apt

A few days ago, CAUCE published a blog post entitled "Epsilon Interactive breach the Fukushima of the Email Industry" on our site, and the always-excellent CircleID. A small coterie of commenters was upset by the hyperbolic nature of the headline. Fair enough, an analogy usually has a high degree of probability that it will fail, and clearly, no one has died as a result of the release of what appears to be tens of millions of people's names and email addresses. But, the two situations are analogous in many other ways, and here's why. more

Garth Bruen Discussing Whois, DNSSEC and Domain Security

NameSmash has interviewed Garth Bruen, Internet security expert and creator of Knujon, on some key issues under discussion during the recent ICANN meetings in San Francisco. Topics include Whois, DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC) and generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) -- issues of critical importance particularly with ICANN's expected roll-out of thousands of new gTLDs in the coming years. more

Epsilon Interactive Breach the Fukushima of the Email Industry

A series of attacks on the Email Service Provider (ESP) community began in late 2009. The criminals spear-phish their way into these companies that provide out-sourced mailing infrastructure to their clients, who are companies of all types and sizes. ... On March 30, the Epsilon Interactive division of Alliance Data Marketing (ADS on NASDAQ) suffered a massive breach that upped the ante, substantially. Email lists of at least eight financial institutions were stolen. more

No False-Starts, Do-Overs, or Mulligans for Email

Josh Baer, former VP of Datran Media and current CEO of OtherInBox has been floating an idea at the DMA's Email Experience Council and a few other places, and recently got some traction in Ken Magill's Magill Report. What Josh is proposing is to create the technical means by which a Sender can decide when email 'expires' and is automatically removed from a recipient's inbox, either by deletion, or perhaps archiving (in the case of Gmail). This would supposedly help the end-user, by removing marketing offers that are no longer available. Why this idea shouldn't happen... more

Blacklist Operations and Practices: Excerpts from an ASRG Draft

The Anti-Spam Research Group (ASRG) published a draft for an Overview of Email DNSBL Best Practices. We can take a step back and review paragraph 2.2.5 (Conflict of Interest)... Some DNSBLs used for blocking/negative reputation have had a practice of requiring fees or donations to charities from the listee for delisting. It is generally considered entirely appropriate for a DNSBL to charge for access to it by its users -- the definition of a commercial DNSBL. more

Is Amazon Playing Chicken With Mailbox Providers?

It's easy to look at Amazon SES and sigh. Thousands of low-end customers sending mail from a shared IP pool? Amazon already knows that trick never works! Just one spammer will ruin the reputation of those IP addresses, resulting in ongoing delivery problems for everyone who uses the service. It is possible that Amazon can build the systems and human processes to keep spammers out; certainly sounds like they want to. more

Spam Volumes In 2010

I started hearing various people comment about lower spam volumes sometime in mid December. This isn't that unusual, spam volumes are highly variable and someone is always noticing that their spam load is going up or going down. The problem is extrapolating larger trends from a small selection of email addresses. more

Where Every Phisher Knows Your Name

Spear phishing is the unholy love child of email spam and social engineering. It refers to when a message is specifically crafted, using either public or previously stolen information, to fool the recipient into believing that it's legitimate. This personalization is usually fairly general, like mentioning the recipient's employer (easily gleaned from their domain name.) Sometimes they address you by name. Much scarier is when they use more deeply personal information stolen from one of your contacts... more

Wikileaks DDoS of Spamhaus: Political Activism at Its Dumbest

A week ago, Paul Vixie wrote a thoughtful piece on the morality of DDos, for both sides of the equation of the Wikileaks issues. In it he summarizes things nicely: "Denial of service is not merely a peaceful protest meant to garner attention for a cause. Denial of service is forcible and it is injurious. It is not like any form of civil disobedience, but rather it is criminal behaviour more like looting." Well said, Paul... more

Canada's Anti-spam Bill C-28 is the Law of the Land

It's been a long time coming, but Canada has an anti-spam law, and one, which sets a new world standard, and a tough, but fair, opt-in protocol for everyone in North America who sends commercial email and other electronic messages. Yesterday, The Canadian Senate voted to accept Bill C-28, and today, December 15, at 13:00 eastern, it will be given Royal Asset of the Governor General of Canada, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston. more