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A Dispatch

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January 04, 2005

The Folly of Challenge-Response

I've been getting more challenge-response challenge messages recently advising that an email message I "sent" was being quarantined until I click on a link in the message. The latest one included this advisory:

If you do not visit the above URL within 7 days, your message will be DELETED and I will not be able to receive messages from you in the future.

The subject of the original message was included, and I recognized it as a common virus subject line ("You cannot do that!"). The original message that triggered this challenge message was a virus that had forged my email address in the From: field. Another exceedingly common virus trick.

I detest getting these challenge messages to stuff that didn't come from me. They load up my inbox with automated garbage. I'm often tempted to click the URL (after doing research to see that the link isn't doing anything sneaky) to force the original virus message to wing its way to its intended recipient.

The email address of the recipient isn't revealed in the challenge message, so I cannot write to her to explain why Challenge-Response shifts her spam/virus burden onto others. After 7 days, my address will be blacklisted at her end. I hope she never writes to me for scripting advice because my response will never get to her. To head off that problem, I'm blacklisting her entire domain (see how this escalates?) because I don't want to get any more C-R spam from this outfit. Adios.

Please, folks. Don't let the instant gratification of Challenge-Response blind you to the harm it inflicts on others. In my eyes it turns you into a spammer.

Posted on January 04, 2005 at 07:22 AM