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10:36am on Sunday, 18th September, 2005:

Email Guessing


QBlog received its first piece of spam email today! It was from "Maureen Reagan [DebbieWolfe@rajachain.com]", offering "OEM Adobe software @ wholesale price$".

Most mail hosts will return email sent to a user name they don't have on file. Thus, one of the problems that spammers face is that of guessing user names.

For mud.co.uk, I don't have any user names. Basically, anything sent there comes direct to me. Having given up on anti-spam software for taking longer to filter spam than it takes for new spam to arrive, I now do all my filtering using hand-crafted rules. I remove the commonest false names when they start getting large volumes of email, but find in practice that most of the rubbish is eaten by my subject line filters (it's amazing what you can get rid of just by removing any vowel with an áccênt ön ìt).

This morning, sitting in my please-delete-me pile was some spam sent to qblog@mud.co.uk . As you will no doubt be aware, QBlog isn't hosted on mud.co.uk (well, not yet, but my 10Mb limit at http://privatewww.essex.ac.uk/~rabartle/ is close to capacity). Some piece of software has spidered QBlog, found that there's a link at the top to mud.co.uk, and reasoned that there may be someone at mud.co.uk called QBlog. They probably sent some to Richard@essex.ac.uk, too, but will have got no response as there isn't one.

Hmm, maybe I'll add $ to my list of delete-on-sight symbols, too...

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Copyright © 2005 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).