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Stupid stupid spammers

October 14, 2006

I’ve got way too many email accounts, and three domain names. One of them, I actually care about, and read mail regularly. Because I run the domain, I also get all the misaddressed mail, too. That mailbox was simply drowning in spam, until I went and looked at the addressee names. Almost all of the spam was addressed to uucp, sales, accounting, help, home, accounts, billing, root, majordomo, info, advertising, administrator, mail, contact, feedback, postmaster, and webmaster. Except for the last two (because I am the postmaster and the webmaster) everything sent to those addresses is directly deleted, untouched by human hands.

So what the heck is the point? Those addresses are all official or official-ish addresses. Anyone who sees mail to root, uucp, administrator, etc, is running a node on the internet, and will almost by definition HATE spam, spammers, phishers, and spyware. These are people who will, at their kindest, do what I did. Someone who is more motivated will write filters to gather spam signatures from these clearly bogus emails to help automatically filter spam out of other accounts.

There are numerous things we could do to more effectively filter spam, but for reasons completely unclear to me, all the big players who could make it happen, do not. Google? Yahoo? MSN/Hotmail? Apple? Thunderbird? (Thunderbird must do this already, I’ll go look). All these guys could start signing emails by default with hashcash, or a verified PGP id, or with a vendor-supplied certificate that verifies mail from an actual customer and give a lower spam score to any mail that was properly signed. As the signatures become more widely adopted, the bias against unsigned mail can be cranked up.

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