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Beowabbit
Now mostly on Facebook (and rarely caught up even there)
aq.org email flaky 
21st-Apr-2008 06:07 pm
Geek: Mac 64
aq.org is the current target of a huge storm of backscatter spam (i.e., bounces of spam allegedly, but not actually, sent from aq.org), which is bringing the email system to its knees. I've already had to reboot the machine once and do a lot of work diagnosing things. Unfortunately, I’m going to be away from a keyboard for a few hours, and it's possible that the machine (or email on the machine) may go down in the interim.

I’ll do my best to take care of things when I get back home. It’s possible, I’m afraid, that the quickest route to getting it up and running reliably long-term may be to reinstall it on new hardware, so I may be up all night tonight. :-/ Hope not.

[EDIT: After the reboot and a lot of manual unclogging of the tubes, aq.org seems to be doing OK. I still need to prioritize upgrading it.]
Comments 
21st-Apr-2008 10:21 pm (UTC)
huh. I'm getting a lot of that same kind into my tufts.edu account. I wonder what's up in the internet!
21st-Apr-2008 11:07 pm (UTC)
Perhaps some of the tubes are clogged. Allow me to recommend a can of Senator Stevens' "Tubo" whose slogan is "Once every week, Tubo in every tube." As Senator Stevens says, "I drink a can of Tubo every week and it keeps all of my tubes in perfect working order."
22nd-Apr-2008 01:03 am (UTC)
Yeah, it was pretty sudden, and I saw a similar but much smaller bump at work. (At work we have much better spam filtering, partly ’cause we can throw money at it, and partly ’cause I get up to eight hours a day to work on it when needed.) I wonder if some software package used by spammers that used to mail from randomly-generated addresses or from something like Friend@public.com got upgraded and now sends from real addresses from its database.
22nd-Apr-2008 09:28 pm (UTC)
I got it too at home. At first I thought my security had been compromised, but M had been hit a few days before and explained. I closed two email addresses that were hit, so far not my main addresses. How does one stop it?
22nd-Apr-2008 09:48 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, there’s no way other than chopping off the typing fingers of all the spammers on the planet, since the message has absolutely nothing to do with your account up to the point where the bounce comes back to you.

On a global level, the more sites have spam-blocking software that drops connections even before the spam is accepted, the fewer of these bogus bounces there will be. (And the more legitimate messages will be incorrectly dropped as spam — we have a few people at work who regularly lose important non-spam mail because our spam software refuses it.)

Also, if Internet email were completely replaced with a system that required that senders be authenticated and/or which were structured such that sending a message was considerably more expensive for the sender than the recipient, that would help.

But there’s nothing you or I as innocent bystanders can do about the bogus bounces, other than maybe figure out automated ways to discard them.

On the bright side, I think I’ve only gotten about three of these bounce-storms ever, and all three times they were really big in the first few hours, but things settled down by the next day. (I’m still seeing a few trickle in from last night, but the overwhelming bulk of them came in within the first few hours.)
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