Email Collapse Over-Hyped

By | February 4, 2005

In spite of a recent announcement by SpamHaus security experts, Anti-spam and security experts claim that the global email infrastructure is doing just fine. Earlier this week, Steve Linford, director of SpamHaus, warned that email infrastructures were looking at a complete collapse due to a virus infecting zombie machines and relaying email via ISP’s mail servers.

“The email infrastructure is beginning to fail,” Linford warned. “You´ll see huge delays in email and servers collapsing. It´s the beginning of the email meltdown.”

Linford said that ISPs need to act fast to take control of the problem. “They´ve got to throttle the number of emails coming from ADSL accounts. They are going to have to act quickly to clean incoming viruses. ISPs have so much spam — they are too understaffed to call people up and tell them they have Trojans on their machines. And no one would know what you´re talking about.”

However, anti-spam vendors say they are already able to deal with this problem effectively with their current generation of products, and they claim Linford is hyping a trick that allows spammers to take advantage of ISP mail servers.

“You report the words of Mr. Linford from SpamHaus about the email infrastructure being menaced and about to collapse,” said Franзois Bourdeau, director of marketing for Vircom. “I find this to be not very accurate. Although the zombie drone problem is very serious, there are solutions out there for ISPs that will minimize the effects of zombie PCs sending out tons of spam.”

“There are technological solutions to the problem, but that ISPs need to take responsibility and use tier-1 solutions to prevent the problem from becoming overwhelming,” Bourdeau added.

Anti-spam company Postini also released a statement criticizing Linford. “Postini believes that SpamHaus is badly overreacting to the recent news that some spam zombies now relay spam through ISP email gateways rather then sending the spam directly to receiving mail servers. The notion that this makes spam undetectable is completely unfounded.”

Most ISP’s are noting a gradual increase in the amount of spam, but nothing near what SpamHaus was predicting. Security and Anti-spam experts are promising to stay on top of the matter though – just in case.

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