Everyone wants to get rid of spam mail, except for spammers. To users it is a nuisance which hides legitimate mail, to web hosts it blocks up resources, to security professionals it means more filtering and monitoring, to website owners it could be a carrier of viruses and malware. Whichever side you are on, if you are not a spammer or a spam beneficiary, you would be against it. But how do we fight spam and how can we attack it at its roots? The root of most spam mail is web hosting servers, which become a tool or a target of the spam mail. By putting appropriate security measures on hosting servers, we can curb spam mail and make it powerless and less annoying. This article discusses how web hosting companies can fight spam mail and what measures they take to fight spam.
Blocking Outgoing Spam
Web hosts have a major responsibility in curbing spam mail. They are the source and the destination of these mails and hence, they are the ones who have maximum powers to actually plug the source and prevent mails from flooding the internet. Hosting companies can put various security measures into place to ensure that mails going out from their systems are at least put through basic tests which can stop spam right in their tracks. Legitimate mail servers are targeted by hacking into the email account of the users on that server and then mails are pumped out using genuine email addresses. Hosts can employ various measures to keep restrict spammy mails and rid the internet of this nuisance.
Apart from taking action silently, web hosts can also participate in reporting networks by automatically or manually reporting suspicious IP addresses and networks which are known sources of spam or spammers. Since hosts have a ready log of the spam activity, they can share it with centralized private and government agencies and help others benefit from that information. Spam patterns, type of mail content, geographic patterns and even targeting strategies can be discussed and shared with third party agencies who are offering anti-spam services.
As a simple way of restricting spam from going out from their servers, web hosts can simply put a cap on the amount of mails that a user can send out in a burst i.e. in a short period of time. Genuine users do not pump out so many mails and rarely hit this limit. Spammers try to send out as many mails as they can in a short time, usually a few minutes to a few hours. As soon as they hit the limit, the mails exceeding that hourly or tri-hourly limit will be discarded. Another way of preventing outgoing spam more effectively is to set sending limits based on the amount of mails that are successfully delivered. If more than 40% mails fail (for example) then for the remainder of the hour no further mails can be sent out by that domain. This will be triggered by spammers using a mailing list which is outdated, not updated or contains errors. It will also help regulate the amount of mails that go out to the same ISP or mails service providers.
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