[amsat-bb] Re: Spam through amsat.org

Greg D ko6th.greg at gmail.com
Thu Oct 31 20:05:54 PDT 2013

Hi Phil,

Interesting idea.  I think what you are suggesting is to turn the Amsat 
email forwarding service into an email lookup / reply service, where the 
sender of the original message would receive a means for contacting you 
(your contact email address) in a non-machine readable form.  The 
original message would be discarded.  They would then contact you via a 
second message, to that (human readable) address.  Spam would be 
eliminated, and the legitimate people wanting to contact you would be 
enabled to do so directly.

A few thoughts...

1.  As has been noted by others, most folks aren't getting a lot of spam 
(I've received a couple over the past many years, but not nearly enough 
to be a problem), so the service as it stands seems to be working.  If I 
recall correctly, there was a problem a few years ago, and that was 
corrected by switching providers or something like that.  The folks 
maintaining the reflector seem to be on top of things.

2.  The current service does hide your real email address from the 
as-yet unknown-to-you sender; your response to them can be from any 
email address you choose, or not at all, depending on your mood at the 
time.  An automatic reply would disclose your address to someone unknown 
to you without your knowledge.  Though the address could certainly be an 
address you specifically set up for this purpose, and the auto-responder 
could notify you of the attempt, the horse would have already left the 
barn.  So, it is a bit of a security concern.

3.  Machine-based Captcha response engines are reported to be getting 
pretty good, and in theory could be modified to bypass your gateway.  
It's probably not worth it, at least right now, but if your concept were 
deployed widely, and on sites with higher potential payback, the 
spammers attention might be directed to do the required engineering.

Still, interesting.

Greg  KO6TH

Phil Karn wrote:
> A significant fraction of the spam I get on my primary email account
> comes by way of the amsat.org email reflector; by my count, 18 of the 76
> spam emails I've received in the last day.
> But I don't want to just shut it off; sometimes people I do want to hear
> from make contact that way. And I've used it to contact others whose
> email addresses I don't know, but who I know to be AMSAT members.
> I wonder if it would be possible to set up some sort of auto-responder
> on amsat.org so that instead of just forwarding email, returns a message
> to the sender with a non-machine-readable image of the user's actual
> email address, possibly accompanied with a sound file with the same
> information for anyone with impaired vision. Spammers couldn't handle
> it, especially since most don't even use valid return addresses. But any
> real human could resend his email directly to its destination.
> What do people think of this idea? How much of a problem is spam for
> everyone else here?
> Phil
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