[afrinic-anti-spam-discuss] BOF meeting

Hari Kurup kurup at afrinic.net
Mon May 21 10:48:50 SAST 2007

Hash: SHA1

Hello colleagues,

On 2nd May 2007 at the AfriNIC-6 meeting in Abuja Nigeria, an anti-spam
BOF (birds of a feather) meeting aimed at addressing specific issues
related to spam that are faced by African networks.
21 participants attended.

At the meeting, it was decided to form an SIG (special interest group)
and a chair for the SIG was chosen - Jean Robert Hountomey.

It was agreed to hold further discussions on this mailing list.
The chair will lead discussion on suggestions to define the terms of
reference and a charter for the SIG.

This being our initial BOF, a general round table discussion on spam was
held. Notes below were compliled by Onime Clement.

General notes:
- - It was stressed that with the current tools and knowledge, it is only
possible to
 reduced SPAM and not eliminated it completely.

Spam definitions:
e-mail that is not wanted by the recipient. It was pointed out that this
definition would cover even normal communication from a friend if the
subject is not to our liking.
unsolicited e-mail: It was pointed out that even normal e-mail messages
could be classified as unsolicited when trying to contact someone for
the first time.
Bulk or Mass mailing: Even messages from other mailing lists could be
considered as bulk.
Given the above it would appear that about 10% of e-mail classified as
spam is highly subject to  personal interpretations while 90% is
considered as spam by everyone.

Handling SPAM from users inside our networks:
- - It is important to have/define an acceptable usage policy for our
network users.
- - It is suggested that network restrict outgoing connections on port 25
from all clients  and permit it only from the SMTP server. For large
networks and visitors, outgoing connections to port 587 should be permitted.
- - The local SMTP server should have SMTP authentication in one form or
the other.
Examples include pop-before-smtp, SMTP-Auth.
For Single Sign On (SSO) situations, radius or kerberos5 could be
- - The local SMTP server should be configured to accept connections on
the mail message submission port 587.

Handling SPAM from outside our networks:
- - INTERNET based Real time Black Lists (RBL) are good for fighting
outside spammers. Such RBLs are easy to get on but difficult to get off.
- - More than 1 RBLs should be used together to improve the results.
- - Newer Server software e.g postfix instead of sendmail could provide
additional benefits such as checking RBLs at SMTP connection time.
- - Additional software such as MailScanner or amavisd could be used to
check email message before delivery. These software is CPU intensive.
- - Opensource versus blackbox (paid for) solutions exists for fighting
spam. However, both types require maintenance/updates in order to be
- - Bandwidth usage could be reduced by directly rejecting SMTP
connections from open-relay RBLs. When possible this could be done by an
up-stream SMTP server (e.g ISP or provider in Europe or U.S) especially
over a vsat link.
- - HTML emails should be discouraged in order to reduce problems with
MailScanner or amavisd.
- - An IETF upgrade/rewrite of the SMTP protocol could be the ultimate
solution to eliminating SPAM.

- --
Hari Kurup
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