[Beowulf] Apologies for the spam/virus yesterday

Donald Becker becker at scyld.com
Wed Feb 8 11:54:31 PST 2006

After having a near-perfect record of keeping out spam and virus 
email, one slipped through yesterday.

It's a good example of why mailing lists can't be auto-moderated. 
The current elaborate system requires heavy human moderation, and this 
message still slid past everything and was automatically approved.

The message appeared to come from a subscribed user, so it passed the 
first check.  (This is actually common: spammers and viruses use pairs of 
addresses from the same source, so evil mail is likely to come from 
someone you have heard of.)

The message passed both ClamAV and SpamAssasin (although a compressed 
zip file should have triggered something).  It didn't have any of the 
keywords that are configured in Mailman's "hold" rules.  And finally, that 
user was approved for auto-post for messages that passed all of the 
previous rules.

Please keep this event in mind before you complain that your message was 
held for moderation.  95-99% (depending on the day) of inbound mail to the 
mailing lists is immediately discarded as obvious viruses and spam.  
Only very low scoring mail from approved subscribers is eligible for 
auto-approval  The rest is held for manual moderation. Only about 2% of 
those held messages are valid postings.  That means about 50 messages 
manually discarded for each manually approved posting.  And except for a 
few weeks scattered over the history of the list, I've been the sole or 
primary moderator.

The bottom line is that we are considering a message board format to
replace the mailing list.  It would have required logins to 
post, and retroactive moderation to delete advertising and trolls.
Any opinions?

Donald Becker				becker at scyld.com
Scyld Software	 			Scyld Beowulf cluster systems
914 Bay Ridge Road, Suite 220		www.scyld.com
Annapolis MD 21403			410-990-9993

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