Dave Bullock / eecue

photographer, engineering leader, nerd


SpamAssassin: Filtering Spam is a Good Thing

I installed SpamAssassin on my mail server. Previously I had just relied on Mail.app's spam filtering functionality to deal with the hundreds of junk messages I receive daily. Now vpopmail sends every message through SpamAssassin which has been extremely effective in filtering the incoming crap.

Relying on your email application to filter spam works well as long as always keep it running. I take my laptop to work with me so I frequently don't have Mail.app running. This causes spam to pile up and makes it a hassle to check email using my iPhone.

Now SpamAssasin and vpopmail automatically move spam from my Inbox into my Junk folder. When I check my mail on the go I am no longer greeted with a bunch of junk.

My users are also benefitting from the install. They have given me positive feedback on SA's management of their spam. Nobody likes dealing with junk mail so anything that makes the process easier is always welcome.

I have noticed that SA doesn't catch everything and sometimes falsely thinks some good email is spam. I update the rule signatures nightly which helps. Soon I am going to implement a spam/ham folder heuristic update script. This will automatically train SA just by moving incorrectly filtered email into one of two folders.

SpamAssassin is a great addition to my mail toolkit. I am very pleased with the results so far and I am eager to help it do a better job. Thanks SpamAssasin!

just mutton

Cans of Just Mutton sit ready for the buying on a grocery store shelf in Fiji during my honeymoon in 2006.


Email Fun: Catch-alls, Joe Jobs, SPF and Spam

I no longer have a catch-all email address. For years the email (qmail) server that I run was set up to receive anything @eecue.com. So if you sent an email to asdflakhjflakjsf@eecue.com or dave_is_a_mean_person@eecue.com I would receive it. This was helpful as it allowed me to create addresses for every site that I submitted my information to, such as target@eecue.com, amazon@eecue.com, etc. That way if those companies sold my address to a list I would know they were responsible for the spam.

This seemed like a good idea until I started getting dictionary Joe Jobbed a few years ago. A Joe Job is when someone sends emails from your account to discredit you. In my case it was just a spam bot sending spams from random addresses @eecue.com. I don't think it was an attack on me, I just have a short domain name that has a catch-all address.

The joe-jobbing caused me to receive thousands of bounce messages. Today I finally decided to turn off the catch-all functionality in my email server. First I dug through my archived mail to find any important addresses that I still needed to receive mail at. I added aliases for the ones that would be hard to change. Any address that was easy to change I just logged into the site it corresponded to and changed it to my main address.

After getting rid of the catch-alls I set up a Sender Policy Framework (SPF) record on my DNS server. SPF is a record on a name server that tells mail servers which IP addresses are allowed to send email for that domain. Luckily I only ever send email from my personal mail server so that was easy to fix.

These changes should greatly reduce the amount of spam and joe-job bounces I receive.


Google Fights Comment Spam

Google has added a feature to they search algorithm that ignores links that have the rel="nofollow" tag in them. This is great because it let's google know what information is your and what information was just posted by somebody commenting. They have recommended the nofollow tag be used on all links that can be posted by untrusted users. MSN Search and Yahoo! are both supporting it. Most blogging applications have already incorporated it. I am going to add it to my system too. Here is the link to the original article on Google's blog.


Arnold Schwarzenegger Signs Anti-Spyware and Spam Bounty Bills

The govinator has signed into law several tech related bills that are great moves in the fight against spam and spyware. First of all is the law that bans the installation of spyware on computers and secondly the law that makes the senders of spam liable for $1000 per email sent that doesn't include the email address and contact info of the sender.

Who wants to join with me and become spam bounty hunters?

(Via topix los angeles.)


Spam Reversal

On of my friends who is a print broker got a 10 identical copies of a mor.t.gag.e spam so he decided to fill out the form and send it out. So far he had received about 8 calls. Every time he gets a call he turns it around and tries to sell printing to the agent. He now has a couple of new clients.


Comcast Helps Lower The World's Spam Intake, Blocks Port 25

Thank you Comcast for lowering the amount of spam in the world by blocking port 25 on your periphery. When the clusestick whacking fails, block port 25.