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Solutions to the Spam Problem

One of the best definitions of Spam, or Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE), comes from

"Spam [UCE] is flooding the Internet with many copies of the same message, in an attempt to force the message on people who would not otherwise choose to receive it. Most spam is commercial advertising, often for dubious products, get-rich-quick schemes, or quasi-legal services. Spam costs the sender very little to send -- most of the costs are paid for by the recipient or the carriers rather than by the sender."

As an ISP you should adopt and enforce a spam or UCE policy to be a good "Netizen". Make sure you publish your policy to your clients and potential clients. Many good anti-spam policies, including Blue Reef's, can be found at You should also show your support for the proposed law to outlaw spam on the Internet (H.R. 1748, "The Netizens Protection Act of 1997") by writing/calling your congressman. For more information about this see CAUCE, the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email.

Until these is a law to outlaw spam there are a few things you can do now to make the spammer's life tough. Before we describe possible solutions, let's make sure we understand the problem. There are many ways that a spammer may abuse your server, including:

  1. Send spam or UCE to you or your customers' email boxes.
  2. Relay spam or UCE through your server in an attempt to mask their true identity.
  3. Send spam or UCE to users on the Internet using (or spoofing) your domain as the return address. There is really nothing that can be done here short of legal action.

As for the first two, there are methods to block spam from spammers and block spammers from using your server as a relay host. The rest of this paper describes in detail some ways to do both of these.

Download the rest of this paper:


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Last modified: Wed., 25-Feb-1998


Blocking Email from Specific Addresses


POP/IMAP-before-SMTP Anti-Spam Feature

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