Autoresponders And Challenge Response Make Virus Worse

from the making-life-worse dept

Like so many others who have fairly public email addresses, I’ve been getting absolutely slammed by the SoBig virus. While I almost never get virus emails, the variation on the latest version means that anyone who has a well-publicized email address is getting inundated. Previous versions simply went through Outlook addressbooks and sent the virus on (while also attaching another email address on as the return address). This version also looks through the victim’s cached webpages, so any email address found on websites that many people visit have discovered that their getting hundreds or thousands of virus emails. Making matters even worse are the numbers of bounces and autoresponders. It’s actually quite similar to what happened when I became an unintentional spammer when a spammer spoofed my email address as the reply-to on his spam messages. One thing that’s different, this time, though, is that along with all the usual bounces, I’m getting an annoying amount of “challenge-response” requests from people I didn’t email. In other words, the virus emails someone randomly and puts my email address as the “reply-to”. If the recipient is using challenge-response, then the challenge gets sent out to me, adding to my own pain (and, initially, confusion). Yet another example of how challenge-response is a “solution” that makes things worse, not better. Luckily my three levels of spam protection seem to be filtering out every one of the virus spams, but it’s still quite a pain.

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Comments on “Autoresponders And Challenge Response Make Virus Worse”

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Tony Lawrence (user link) says:

AutoResponders and Challenges

I’m also “popular” by virtue of being well known in the tech circles I move in, having a large public web site, and having been “on the net” since ’91.
I’m getting hundreds of these every hour (and of course just trashing them automatically before they leave my server), and like you I’m also getting dozens and dozens of responses from vacation programs and virus filters.
I can deal with all that junk programmatically, but the part that is most frustrating is the people who do not understand that I am not sending these! They write to me, telling me to stop. Sometimes they are reasonably pleasant (“something seems to be wrong with your machine”), but more often they are angry – VERY angry. Of course I try to write back to explain what is really happening, but by that time they have figured out how to filter out anything that says it is from me, so they probably go on thinking that I’m a class A jerk and ought to be banned from the Web.

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