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Monthly Archives: May 2017

Appending in a nutshell

A few months ago a colleague sent me, and every other person on his overly large LinkedIn list, an email looking for some help hiring. It starts off with “Greetings LinkedI Connections” and ends with… an unsubscribe link. P.S. If you don’t want to hear from me, here’s an unsubscribe link – that’s the easiest […]

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Purchased lists aren’t always purchased

Spamhaus has listed a number of domains belonging to French politicians recently. In their blog post about it, they mention that the listings are directly related to address lists provided to candidates by the French government. We learned of this issue recently when two different French candidates became entangled in two of our automated spam […]

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Are they using DKIM?

It’s easy to tell if a domain is using SPF – look up the TXT record for the domain and see if any of them begin with “v=spf1”. If one does, they’re using SPF. If none do, they’re not. (If more than one does? They’re publishing invalid SPF.) AOL are publishing SPF. Geocities aren’t. For DKIM […]

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Random thoughts on spammers

I recently received a 419 spam that had a message at the top of the email. Yup, a 419 spammer is trying to convince me there are millions of dollars waiting for me, but he won’t pay his software vendor 29.99 to comply with a license. This is only the most recent in a long […]

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Protocol-relative URLs in email

When you link to an external resource – an image, a javascript file, some css style – from a web page you do so with a URL, usually something like “https://example.com/blahblah.css” or “http://example.com/blahblah.css”. The world is beginning to go all https, all the time, but until recently good practice was to make a web page available […]

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ARC: Authenticated Received Chain

On Friday I talked a little about DMARC being a negative assertion rather than an authentication method, and also about how and when it could be deployed without causing problems. Today, how DMARC went wrong and a partial fix for it that is coming down the standards pipeline. What breaks? DMARC (with p=reject) risks causing problems any […]

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The philosophy of DMARC

We know that legitimate email sent with valid SPF and a DKIM signature often breaks in transit. SPF will fail any time mail is forwarded – via a mailing list, a forwarding service used by the recipient, or just ad-hoc forwarding. DKIM will fail any time the message is modified in transit. That can be obviously […]

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You’re kidding me

All the authentication and DMARC in the world can’t save you from stupid. I just got a survey request from my bank. Or, at least, it claimed to be from my bank. From: Barclays International Banking Survey <internationalbanking@barclayssurveys.com> The mail passed SPF (though the SPF record suggests this is being mailed from all over the […]

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Phishing increasingly sophisticated

Phishing is an online threat that’s been around for more than 20 years. I initially heard of it in relation to spammers taking over an AOL account to send out spam. These days phis is more dangerous and more sophisticated. Phishing is not just used to send spam. It’s used to take over elections; it’s used to steal millions of dollars. […]

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Shibboleet

Using unique addresses for signups gives me the ability to track how well companies are protecting customer data. If only one company ever had an address, and it’s now getting spam or phishing mail, then that company has had a data breach. The challenge then becomes getting the evidence and details to the right people inside the […]

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  • OTA joins the ISOC

    The Online Trust Alliance (OTA) announced today they were joining forces with the Internet Society (ISOC). Starting in May, they will operate as an initiative under the ISOC umbrella. “The Internet Society and OTA share the belief that trust is the key issue in defining the future value of the Internet,” said Internet Society President and CEO, Kathryn Brown. “Now is the right time for these two organizations to come together to help build user trust in the Internet. At a time when cyber-attacks and identity theft are on the rise, this partnership will help improve security and data privacy for users,” added Brown.No Comments


  • Friday blogging... or lack of it

    It seems the last few Friday's I've been lax on posting. Some of that is just by Friday I'm frantically trying to complete all my client deliverables before the weekend. The rest of it is by Friday I'm just tired. Today had the added complication of watching the Trumpcare debate and following how (and how soon) it would affect my company if it passed. That's been a bit distracting, along with the other stuff I posted about yesterday. I wish everyone a great weekend.1 Comment


  • Indictments in Yahoo data breach

    Today the US government unsealed an indictment against 2 Russian agents and 2 hackers for breaking into Yahoo's servers and stealing personal information. The information gathered during the hack was used to target government officials, security employees and private individuals. Email is so central to our online identity. Compromise an email account and you can get access to social media, and other accounts. Email is the key to the kingdom.No Comments


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