Stopping the Junk Mail

The bane of every e-mail administrator's existence is unsolicited bulk email (UBE), more commonly known as spam. Spam is usually, but not always, commercial in nature. (Commercial spam is sometimes called unsolicited commercial e-mail, or UCE.) Whatever its contents, spam is a growing problem. Spam clogs mail servers' hard disks, consumes network bandwidth, and causes system administrators to waste valuable time answering questions about and otherwise combating it. Worse, some forms of spam are actually harmful to individuals. Spam is now a popular means of propagating illegal pyramid schemes, advertising child pornography, and worse. One particular type of spam, so-called 419 scams, named after the Nigerian law they violate, has been associated with murders perpetrated against some of its victims. (See http://www.crimes-of-persuasion.com/Chmes/Business/nigerian.htm for details.)

Although spams that lead to loss of life are extremely rare, controlling spam is nonetheless a desirable goal, and one you should consider when you run a mail server. The type of spam upon which you're probably most focused is incoming spam—you want to keep the spams from clogging your hard disk and consuming your network bandwidth. Just as important, though, is controlling outgoing spam. If all mail server and network administrators kept their systems from sending spam, the problem would vanish. By securing your system against abuse, you can help reduce the severity of the problem for others.

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