We hate spam, because until we started to do something about it, we got so much that it actually was beginning to inhibit our ability to function. Besides, spam sucks.

So now we're doing a number of things to kill spam on the way in, as well as to protect our mail gateways from being hijacked by spammers.

decloaking tool

Some spammers have gotten in the habit of advertising web sites in rather obscure ways in order to make it more difficult for users to determine where to send their complaints. Since late in 1998, the fad has been to write the host address as one big number instead of as a domain name or traditional octets. We have a simple decloaking tool to resolve those, and even look up the host in the ARIN registry.

automagic complaint tools

Remember that there are people on the receiving end of spam complaints. Show respect for their time and effort. You'll have the greatest success battling spam if you keep a few things in mind: Now that your clue-bit is set, we invite you to peruse the following tools to see whether they might be able to help you battle spam more effectively. complaint service
Read the "how it works" section. Register for the service, be sure to use it properly. This is not a place to send all of your spam and expect it to be magically addressed.
A tool for reporting inappropriate commercial e-mail and usenet postings, as well as chain letters and "make money fast" postings.
A wrapper for adcomplain, developed locally, for use by those who need to have their environment set up a little differently from normal to use adcomplain.
If you're using Gnus to read news and/or mail and adcomplain/adc isn't your style, you might want to consider this package instead.

how we kill spam

First, we get a baseball bat, and then... um... I mean, we do the following:
bounce mail from bogus domains
When mail is coming in to one of our gateways, we check to see whether to sender's domain name is legitimate. The gateway will refuse to accept the mail if it is not.
refuse to talk to spamming relays
Our gateways will not accept mail from any relay listed in the MAPS RBL (that's Mail Abuse Prevention System Realtime Blackhole List). Also, we maintain our own list of mail relays that send spam, and refuse to talk to any of those hosts. Finally, we do not accept mail directly from many dialup networks. If you have a unix machine on a dialup account at your isp, please configure your mail transfer agent to send outgoing mail through your isp's mail server. Otherwise, if you try to directly initiate an smtp session with us, our relay is likely to reject it.
refuse to relay third party mail
Spammers commonly will point their spam-sending programs at a ``third party relay'', that is, someone else's legitimate mail host, and then have it perform all of the work of looking up addresses, attempting to actually deliver the mail, and deal with bounces. Point your spam-sender at us, and you'll get 550 ... Relaying denied. and you might get much worse.

a brief tirade

The fact that we've had to take these steps is a sad testimony to a change that is taking place in the culture of the Internet. It was once a haven of people who wanted to be able to share information with each other, people concerned with the internet itself, who used the resource intelligently, and contributed to its value.

It would appear that this is becoming less and less the case, as more and more people get on the 'net with the intention to MAKE.MONEY.FASTTM. The morons engaged in abusive, destructive behavior like blasting unsolicited email out to hundreds of thousands of addresses (many of which are either outdated, or simply wrong) are not the marketers of the future; they're parasites, trying to make a quick buck at the expense of everyone else. This sort of behavior should not be tolerated. Such people should be pulled from the 'net, and those who support this sort of nonsense with connectivity or their business should be boycotted.

There's no reason why commercial activity has to mean destructive activity. We should never give up the fight for to eliminate abuse of the Internet.

corporate | research | news | people | projects | publications | services | feedback | legal

C Matthew Curtin
Last modified: Sun Mar 28 17:02:02 EST 1999