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A Dispatch

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August 10, 2007

Huge Spam Spike on 9 August 2007

I was surprised to see that the spam statistics chart showed an outsized jump in spam for the 9th of August—more than twice the usual flow. I had heard rumblings of similar increases from other sources, mostly attributed to stock "pump and dump" spam.

In checking my log for the day, I discovered that most of the jump here was due to backscatter messages—notices that messages sent with my address in the From: field were not delivered to their recipients. In other words, my email address had appeared in the From: field of about 1000 spam messages that could not be delivered to their addressees. Lucky me! This type of backscatter is so bad, that my spam filters unceremoniously dump it to the trash right on the server. In the meantime, the myriad of servers around the world sending these bounce messages to forged addresses waste everyone's bandwidth and server resources.

Come on, email server admins: If the message is spam, quarantine or delete it quietly; if the To: address is not valid, refuse to receive the message immediately, rather than take it in and send a backscatter bounce message. You'll save everyone (including yourselves) a ton of resources.

Posted on August 10, 2007 at 12:35 AM