Friday, August 29, 2014

I'm Not Spam

Open mail relays are no joke. Except when I joke about them in my comics. But seriously, you have to be careful if you run a server to prevent spammers or botnets from using you to spam people.

When I installed postfix it listened publicly on port 25 by default. While it probably wouldn't let anyone log in to send an email, that still seemed a bit dangerous to me. I don't need somebody running a port scanner on me, seeing that I run a mail server, and then attacking me constantly trying to break in.

I had to change the following line in /etc/postfix/main.cf
inet_interfaces = 127.0.0.1
Then I had to restart postfix.

# /etc/init.d/postfix restart

It was the last line in my file. It just tells postfix to listen only on localhost and not on my public IP address. You can't connect to my server on port 25 from anywhere but my server.

SPAM and Eggs
Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, and eggs.
Alas, it did me no good. For some reason, amphibian.com is still listed as a spam site on Barracuda Central. Unfortunately, this means that many networks will block access to my comics because they assume that I am some kind of villain.

You can tell if your site is in some "bad" category by using their lookup tool. You can even request to change your category if it is wrong. I did this, but haven't gotten any response yet.

They have other informative sections of their site, where you can look at global spam statistics in graphs. The United States sends quite a bit more spam than the rest of the world, and penny stocks are an extremely popular spam subject.

While I certainly don't appreciate being labeled a spammer, the history of why unwanted email is called spam is quite interesting. It really traces back to a Monty Python sketch from 1970. In it, a couple is in a diner where every item on the menu contains Spam. The word spam is used so many times in the sketch, and Monty Python sketches are so popular among early adopters of the Internet, that people used to annoy each other in things like Usenet groups and MUDs by typing the word spam repeatedly. Just like in the sketch, the overuse of the word made it undesirable and over time the word became associated with unwanted stuff on your network, primarily email.

Amphibian.com comic for August 29, 2014