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Catch all spam from automated bots

23/09/08

Catch all spam from automated bots

Permalink 12:10:20 pm by Eugene Gardner, Categories: Articles, Technical Tips

The problems of regular spam (junk e-mail) are well known and some remedies listed at http://www.1computercare.co.uk/spam.htm

Until recently I have used filters and rules to give a better than 99% effective separation of the genuine from the rubbish that comes my way. In the 30 days to the point of writing this, a total of 43,752 e-mails were appropriately relegated to my Junk folder without being read.

Now I have a new problem. Some 'person' has started using addresses in my domain (1ComputerCare.co.uk) to populate the From field of their inducements to enhance the readers' anatomy with chemicals bought from them etc. This mail that purports to come from me is sent to millions of decent folk, a significant number of whom have changed addresses thereby causing a mail failure delivery notification to be sent to me. Further, many people have automated replies such as 'out of the office'.

These automated bounce-backs are virtually undetectable by my spam filters as they all come from 'genuine' people. So if anyone does send me a message and does not receive a reply within 24 hours, please accept my apologies and assume your message is unread in my spam folder.

With the benefit of hindsight, I could have avoided much of this problem had I used my catchall address differently. For years I have given an address specific to the recipient, for example, if registering at the Microsoft website I would give my address as Microsoft@ 1ComputerCare.co.uk so as to enable me to easily set up an appropriate filter for incoming mail, and detect who sold my e-mail address on to a spamming organisation.

A better way would be to limit my address to just a few names, e.g. Eugene@, Service@, Sales@ and then set an appropriate catch-all option. That is, when mail addressed to someone at my domain but not in the small pre-defined list is received, a message can be automatically sent to the recipient advising them of my true address. The cost of resending the message would be insignificant to genuine mailers, but not worth the effort for spammers or automated bots.

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