Thursday, January 18, 2007

Some you win, some you lose...

Peter and I arrived in yesterday morning to a message informing us that one of our partners had been sending out large quantities of spam yesterday evening. The message ended: "You put this spammer out of business today or get your entire domain blacklisted tomorrow!" This could have affected all of the partners we host email for. In order to protect the hundreds of other email users who rely on us we took the unilateral step of blocking email to/from that partner till they found and fixed the problem.

We then contacted the partner concerned and they have started investigating and found that one of their computers in their office had a number of viruses, but they actually believe that the spam came from a guest from Western Europe who used their office broadband connection to do their email yesterday evening. They are still investigating. Although it was probably not the computer they found the viruses on that sent out all the spam this shows that partners MUST be more diligent with their virus protection of their own computers.

This is exactly the type of problem we were concerned about and why we blocked .DOC files in December. This is the type of thing that can happen when a computer is 'hijacked' using the zero day exploit in Word documents. We all need to consider the implications of letting guests plug in or attach via wireless to our broadband connection. Today we discussed how all of us will almost have to get to having airport style security checks for people who wish to use our connections.

Spam is getting out of hand, so we understand why the spam blocking agency took the action they did to only give us 24 hours to solve the problem: Approx 6 months ago we had about 60,000 spam messages per month to deal with. We will be dealing with over 200,000 spam messages this month. If this rate goes on as it appears to we could be dealing with over 1 million spam emails by the summer and 5 million by this time next year, by which time the real email would constitute less than 0.01% of the email we were coping with. At some stage it could become unmanageable to try to deal with!

On a lighter note, in order to disengage my brain when struggling with these issues I play a quick game of Solitaire on my phone/PDA. Today for the first time I got 2005, the first time over the 2000 level... there is only one score higher I could have got so its the second top score.

Of course getting this is totally random and has no skill at all. There are times when I feel that the fight we have with various computer problems is totally random. Strange considering they should be logical devices. What's even stranger is that often the cards seem far from random.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

"all of us will almost have to get to having airport style security checks for people who wish to use our connections."

or you run separate networks for your staff and visitors, e.g. like this proposes http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/12/13/cloud_launch_guestbridge/