Black Viper
Black Viper
Mar 022004
 

Introduction

My current E-Mail address listed on the Contact BV page has served me well. It has been in use for over five years. However, in the last ten hours, I have received three times more virus infected E-Mail’s than I have received legitimate correspondence. Not to mention the spam that my server automatically blocks.

The Good

  1. People that contacted me five years ago can very well do so today with no fears that the E-Mail will be bounced.
  2. I am rather attached to it. This fact can also be considered a bad thing.

The Bad

  1. With Outlook Express and Outlook, the “default” configuration is to “automatically place” E-Mail addresses into the address book of people that the user has replied to. Even though it would take more time and effort than I would like to spend to discover exactly the amount of people with my current E-Mail address in their address book, my best guess is over 3000+ in only the last two years searching for “RE:” in the subject line of my archived E-Mails. This does not include those that could have added me without “replying to my reply” or discount those not using the previously mentioned E-Mail clients.
  2. Way too many viruses and worms of the past, present and future, take advantage of Outlook Express and Outlook by using those particular E-Mail addresses listed there to attempt and send an infected E-Mail to the rest. If that was not bad enough, most of them also pluck a random one out of the address book and “spoof” the from address, leading to my next comment.
  3. To further my discontent, E-Mail server/system administrators still insist on their systems to “automatically reply” to the above mentioned virus infection attempts. This is either done at the E-Mail server itself, or what ever virus protection service they use. Sometimes, these automated systems even include the virus in the bounced message!
  4. spam. Isn’t that enough reason to make my old address go away? When I first started this web site, I placed, as I do now, a “mailto:” link on the Contact BV page. Having my domain on a server that I did not have the “privilege” of administering (until it was way too late) caused my E-Mail address to be sucked up by the multitude of E-Mail harvesting robots out there. More on this in “The Ugly.”

The Ugly

  1. spam. Even though I have become completely disgusted with the various virus attacks floating around the Internet, spam still is way up on the list of “The Ugly” things the Internet has brought. Since I was unaware of the dangers (until it was way too late) of “publicly publishing” my E-Mail address on the site, I am sure it is widely distributed throughout the spamming community. I currently use several tactics to make the junk “appear” to go away (E-Mail server configuration, client configuration, etc.) it still uses my bandwidth and resources to block the junk. Something that I am not very happy about.
  2. In only the last 96 hours, my server has dealt with over 400 spam messages. 100 per day. 4 per hour. Those are the E-Mails I do not see and only a few get through. In the grand scheme of things, this amount may not seem like a lot, but the fact of the matter is, I have never used my domain’s E-Mail address to sign up for anything online. Ever.
  3. Clueless Internet users have “signed me up” for various things, such as newsletters, that they “think” I might be interested in. This happened much more frequently when the particular administrators of those lists did nothing to “verify” the E-Mail address that was signed up actually desired the information.
  4. Even a few people have signed me up for various “adult” information, either a sad attempt at being funny, or just a malicious way to “get back” at a total stranger on the Internet. Either way, my coveted E-Mail address ended up on even more lists.

The (possible) Solution(s)

I have spent lots of time and thought as to what I could do to curb this growing issue. I have already spent many hours, days, and weeks on end of geeking time to combat the flood of unwanted electronic commerce that ends up in my lap every day.

  1. I could remove my E-Mail address totally.
  2. I could discount it as “something that must be dealt with” and get over it.
  3. I could create a “contact form” for my readers to use.
  4. I could “cycle” my E-Mail address.

I could remove my E-Mail address totally.

Pro’s:

  • None

Con’s:

  • I find this to be the worst possible solution.
  • I feed off of kind words in my E-Mail box as fuel to keep me going. If those encouraging words and “thanks” were no longer available, I would drop the web site off of the internet and not look back.

I could discount it as “something that must be dealt with” and get over it.

Pro’s:

  • None

Con’s:

  • This solution is not in my nature. I have a hard time sitting down and “giving up” because of the “abuse” of an important form of communication today and in the future.
  • This will only fan the flames for ultimately turning to the “remove” solution.

I could create a “contact form” for my readers to use.

Pro’s:

  • E-Mail harvesters cannot get the E-Mail address because the actual “sending” is done by the web server, not the reader.
  • The E-Mail address the contact form “sends the message to” is not public.

Con’s:

  • I have always felt this solution as not the best that it can be.
  • I find it extremely impersonal and I feel that people should “contact me” with what ever utility they desire, meaning E-Mail client.
  • Some enterprising spammers have wandered web sites “looking” for these type of forms to send spam to.
  • My replies would have to come from a “publicly accessible” E-Mail address of which invalidates the purpose of the contact form.
  • No way exists, to my knowledge, to “confirm” that the senders E-Mail address typed into the form is valid or correct (meaning, the same person that wrote the message is in control of the E-Mail address).

I could “cycle” my E-Mail address.

Pro’s:

  • If a spammer, infected system or malicious reader decided to attack the address, it would only last as long as the cycle.

Con’s:

  • Depending on actual cycle (one month, one year), a reader may become confused as to why my E-Mail address suddenly became “invalid” even though they have contacted me before with success and my domain is still online.
  • If, for some reason, a spammer got the address, it could mean “multiple spam related attempts” to send information to my network, effectively creating more of an issue than what is being solved.

The Workable Solution

With no doubt in my mind, I have to do something.

  • I believe a combination of a contact form and cycling addresses will solve much more problems than it will create.
  • It is also technically feasible to create a “bounce” message on my server for invalid addresses and in that E-Mail, include a link to my Contact BV page with the latest information.
  • Even though I know it is possible, how to do it and if it is worth while to do so, will require more geek time on my part to research and experiment.
  • Logging “sent” messages must be conducted to reduce (report) abuse.

With hope in my heart, I wish to create a solution that attempts to regain a small portion of my sanity, as well as allow my readers to interact with me.

Black Viper

March 2, 2004

Revision History

March 2, 2004: Initial release