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Category: Technical

Check your abuse addresses

Even if you have excellent policies and an effective, empowered enforcement team you can still have technical problems that can cause you to drop abuse mail, and so lose the opportunity to get a bad actor off your network before they damage your reputation further. It’s not quite as simple as “We’re seeing email in […]

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The Problem With Affiliates (2)

On Friday I mentioned spam coming from a BarkBox affiliate programme. The original email is here. It’s not terribly exciting, it’s rather typical spam of the sort sent by professional spammers. It’s validly DKIM and SPF authenticated, and DMARC-aligned. It includes invisible white-on-white padding text so that it doesn’t look like image-only spam to naive […]

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Reading RFCs

We mention RFCs quite a lot, both explicitly (RFC 6376 is the specification for DKIM) and implicitly (the 822.From aka bounce address aka return path). And we have local copies of a bunch of them to make them easy to refer to (SMTP, MIME, Carrier Pigeons …). They use quite a lot of jargon and […]

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Minimal DMARC

The intent of DMARC is to cause emails to silently vanish. Ideally deploying DMARC would cause all malicious email that uses your domain in the From address, but which has absolutely nothing to with you to vanish, while still allowing all email you send, including mail that was sent through third parties or forwarded, to […]

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List the world!

We often say that a blacklist has “listed the world” when it shuts down ungracefully. What exactly does that mean, and why does it happen? Blacklists are queried by sending a DNS lookup for an A record, just the same as you’d find the address of a domain for opening a webpage there. The IP […]

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SpamCannibal is dead

The SpamCannibal blacklist – one that didn’t affect your email too much but which would panic users who found it on one of the “check all the blacklists!” websites – has gone away. It was silently abandoned by the operator at some point in the past year and the domain registration has finally expired. It’s […]

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EFAIL PGP / S/MIME "flaw" ?

There’s going to be a lot of hype today about something the security researchers who found it are calling “EFAIL”. Interviews, commemorative T-Shirts, press tours, hype. The technical details are interesting, but the un-hyped end-user advice would probably be “If you’re using a mail client that’s got bugs in it’s MIME handling, and you’ve configured it […]

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Dodgy PDF handling at Gmail

We sent out some W-9s this week. For non-Americans and those lucky enough not to have to deal with IRS paperwork those are tax forms. They’re simple single page forms with the company name, address and tax ID numbers on them. Because this is the 21st Century we don’t fill them in with typewriters and […]

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Meltdown & Spectre, Oh My

If you follow any infosec sources you’ve probably already heard a lot about Meltdown and Spectre, Kaiser and KPTI. If not, you’ve probably seen headlines like Major flaw in millions of Intel chips revealed or Intel sells off for a second day as massive security exploit shakes the stock. What is it? These are all about a […]

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Authentication is about Identity, not Virtue

I just got some mail claiming to be from “Bank of America <secure@bofasecure.com>”. It passes SPF: Received-SPF: Pass (sender SPF authorized) identity=mailfrom; client-ip=185.235.176.160; helo=bofasecure.com; It passes DKIM: Authentication-Results: mx.wordtothewise.com (amavisd-new); dkim=pass (1024-bit key) header.d=bofasecure.com The visible RFC 822 From address is strictly aligned with both the SPF domain and the DKIM domain. So if they’d published […]

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