Spam and Viruses

Spam doesn’t really bother me. Since I installed SpamAssassin the vast majority of it gets filtered off into a junk folder that I never read. I get hundreds of spam emails a day and I’m currently seeing three or four of them. If you administer a mail system you should seriously consider installing SpamAssassin.

Viruses don’t really bother me much either. A large proportion of them as also caught by SpamAssassin and anyway I run Linux so any that do get thru to my inbox can’t do any damage.

Of course, I’d be far happier if spam and viruses didn’t exist, but the point I’m making is that with my mail setup I can still function pretty normally even tho’ I’m inundated with them every day.

Actually, make that “I could still function”. That’s no longer true. It’s not spam or viruses that are making my life hell – it’s bounce messages.

You know, I’m sure that most spam comes from a fake email address. And that viruses use random email addresses from your address book or other sources. It seems that some of my email addresses are amongst those that are being used for spam. Every day I’m getting hundreds of bounces saying that my email about penile enlargement or some other dodgy business couldn’t be delivered. And now I’m also getting emails saying that the email I tried to send was deleted because it contains a virus.

Bounce messages are useful. Or, at least, they used to be. In the current climate they seem to be doing more harm than good. They are just adding to the problem. In my case they are most of the problem.

So if you administer a mail server here’s what I suggest (if you don’t administer a mail server you might consider passing these suggestions on).

  • Run decent spam recognition software on your server.
  • If an email is indentified as spam and you can’t deliver it, then don’t send a bounce message.
  • If for some reason you can’t install spam filtering software then configure your mail server to not send bounce messages.
  • If you run virus recognition software then don’t send virus notifications to the sender, because the sender almost certainly isn’t the sender.

Please help to make the internet usable again.

Join the conversation


  1. So far, I have this in my where_to_guv (a pperl script that tells procmail where to shove my mail)

    # check for bounces that arn’t for me
    if ($subject =~ /failure notice/i ||
    $subject =~ /Warning: could not send/i ||
    $subject =~ /Returned mail/i ||
    $subject =~ /Mail delivery failed/i ||
    $subject =~ /Undelivered Mail Returned to Sender/i ||
    $subject =~ /Mail System Error/i ||
    $subject =~ /Undeliverable Mail/i ||
    $subject =~ /Delivery Status Notification/i ||
    $subject =~ /Delivery reports about your e?mail/i ||
    $subject =~ /Delivery failure/i ||
    $subject =~ /Undeliverable/i ||
    $subject =~ /Unable to deliver your message/i ||
    $subject =~ /Devliery Reports/i ||
    $from =~ /Mail Delivery/i ||
    $from =~ /Postmaster/i ||
    $from =~ /The Post Office/i ||
    $from =~ /mailsweeper/i ||
    $from =~ /mailer-daemon/i ||
    $from =~ /mailserver/i ||
    $from =~ /mailscanner/i ||
    $from =~ /Mail Administrator/i ||
    $subject =~ /message undelivered/i ||
    $subject =~ /undelivered mail/i ||
    $from =~ /spam/i ||
    $subject =~ /return receipt/i ||
    $subject =~ /ambiguous address/i ||
    $subject =~ /Mail delivery problems/i ||
    $subject =~ /mail delivery status/i ||
    $subject =~ /unable to process your message/i ||
    $subject =~ /Delivery Notification/i ||
    $subject =~ /Your e?mail did not reach the intended/i ||
    $subject =~ /Your Message Could Not Be Delivered/i ||
    $subject =~ /Delivery Notification/i ||
    $subject =~ /Warning:.*?User unknown/i) {
    # work out if there’s in the body
    unless (grep { /mark\@(2|two)shortplanks\.com/ } @{ $message->body} ){
    print $mail_location . “/odd_bounce”;
    exit 0;

    This catches 95% of my fake bounces without dropping real bounces. Doesn’t get them all, but then again you never can.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.