|By Mark R. Hinkle||
|September 27, 2004 12:00 AM EDT||
It's a fact of life for most of us: we all receive e-mail solicitations to "Make Money Fast" or for a "Mail Order Drugstore" or offensive or adult content that makes us blush, especially when a colleague is looking over our shoulder. Spam, a slang term for Unsolicited Commercial E-mail (UCE), has reached epidemic proportions. It clogs our inboxes and saps our productivity. I have a long history with spam - in a former career I was a "net abuse cop" for a large ISP.
In those days spammers (the accepted slang term for bulk mailers sending UCE) spent their time harvesting message headers from Usenet newsgroups and sending solicitations to those who had posted on topics ranging from computers to religion. Soon enough the spammers improved or, more accurately, became more insidious in their tactics to get their unwelcome messages into your inbox. That's why this month's installment of Dr. Migration is dedicated to spam and the Linux desktop.
SPAM Prevention StrategiesDealing with spam is not only a Linux problem, it affects users of Macs, Windows, and Unix workstations as well as cell phone users who utilize e-mail to SMS (short messaging service) text messaging. Everyday spammers are scheming to fill our e-mail boxes with various solicitations for a cadre of products. That's why you should take as many precautions as you can to prevent junk e-mail. Many of these precautions are platform independent and are ways to improve your life on the Internet.
Protect Your E-mail AddressIt may sound like an obvious precaution but many people don't guard their e-mail address with the same vigilance they protect their phone number or their address. Once you share your e-mail address, you trust that the person or organization will only utilize it for the prescribed use. Be sure to read the fine print in their offers or you may unknowingly agree to be on a mailing list.
My point is, when giving out your e-mail, you should verify that it won't be shared or find out what exactly the prescribed use is. My strategy is that when I do share my address with a source that I know little about, I use my secondary e-mail address. This is a second e-mail address that has little value to me if it becomes overwhelmed since I simply change it. I then check this e-mail address only when I feel I might be receiving information that I requested regarding a product or service. Then my daily work and personal e-mail boxes aren't subject to the abuse that this address often receives. I think many of us do this already, but those who don't and suffer from an inordinate amount of junk mail may want to start the practice.
HTML E-Mail: Don't Download Images from the ServerWhen you receive an HTML e-mail, besides the obvious message, bulk e-mailers often use a register bit that is usually a small transparent image that, when you view the message, loads and then alerts them that you have read that e-mail. This helps them understand which of their messages successfully reaches an end user and qualifies that e-mail address as a target for further advertisements. One way to prevent this is to not download images from the server. Three popular e-mail clients for the Linux desktop - Kmail, Thunderbird, and Evolution - enable you to turn off the accessing of Internet resources from the body of the e-mail, defeating this information-gathering campaign.
E-Mail Attachments: Be Aware of Worms and VirusesOne of the things that we are all very cognizant of (or should be) from the perspective of a Windows desktop is the risk of viruses. It's not uncommon to see news stories describing the damage caused by the latest Windows virus, and these viruses cause millions of dollars of damage. However, just because you are running a Linux desktop doesn't mean you should be lax in your approach to e-mail attachments and their hidden payloads. The fact is that a Linux virus doesn't get near the bang for the buck as a Windows virus because the Linux desktop user is in the minority. Authors of these malicious programs receive less notoriety by propagating their viruses on the Linux desktop simply because their target is substantially smaller. Also, if you are running a Linux desktop, you may just be an unwitting carrier of viruses. Since you'd be impervious to a virus that exploits VB script or ActiveX you may simply be passing it on to a colleague who reads mail on a Windows PC. So do take precautions when forwarding on the latest joke, or any document for that matter.
Alternative Office Advantage: Word Versus OpenOfficeIn earlier versions of Microsoft Word, viruses prevailed by exploiting the macro language (WordBasic) and then causing global changes to the desktop. Later versions of Word ask if you would like to enable macros or not. However, being quick on the draw and clicking through these warnings as many people still do may cause problems.
If you are still using a Windows desktop, consider using OpenOffice on Windows as your primary word processor. The reason is that when you receive an attachment that you think might be suspect, you could open it in a program that is less likely to be exploited. OpenOffice has a macro language but it differs from the one that Word uses. This difference would insulate you from that type of attack. The problem is that over time the increased popularity of these alternative office suites will probably result in targeted attacks from unscrupulous programmers. In the near term, reading the Microsoft Office documents that you receive from unfamiliar sources or even those that you know in OpenOffice may be a good preventative measure.
Server-Side Spam FilteringE-mail servers are often thought of as electronic post offices that simply route mail to individual users, no questions asked. However, e-mail servers can also incorporate other protective measures like virus scanning and spam filtering to protect you, the end user, from malicious or time-sapping e-mail that you never care to see. Applying a preventative measure at the server saves users from having to deal with spam and viruses on an individual basis. You may want to work with your mail administrator to incorporate some simple rules to remove some of your junk e-mail. One tactic is to verify that the mail server sending you e-mail has a valid DNS entry. Much of today's UCE comes from illegitimate sources, not from a credible mail server that ISPs or businesses use. Most system administrators will have some additional ideas on what the common tactics are for avoiding this mail.
My best advice for dealing with spam is that if the e-mail never gets to your inbox, it can't sap your time dealing with it. Also, qualifying the mail as potentially suspect upon arrival to your e-mail box can be helpful as well. One of the most effective measures I have taken is to flag potential spam and then filter that out of my inbox for further review. I accomplish the server-side filtering through SpamAssassin, a popular open source project.
Probably the most popular open source application for server-side spam filtering is SpamAssassin. It allows you to filter e-mail and make decisions on the server or as a mail agent running locally that qualifies e-mail before it reaches your inbox. SpamAssassin uses a number of tactics to identify spam. These tactics include:
- Header analysis: Tries to identify the mail headers of a message for information that might indicate the e-mail message is suspect.
- Text analysis: Works much the same way as header analysis. SpamAssassin identifies patterns that may indicate a message is spam.
- Blacklists: Many community organizations provide lists of known spammers and e-mail domains that have been known to send spam. These blacklists can be used by SpamAssassin to filter UCE offenders qualified by a volunteer network.
- "Learning" rules: SpamAssassin also has the ability to "learn" what might be spam and to use the probability of what might be spam to classify it as such.
Challenge Base ResponseAs anyone who has ever sent an e-mail to my LinuxWorld address knows, you'll receive a polite but pointed message that asks you to explain why you want to contact me. This service is provided by my ISP (Earthlink's Spamblocker); all e-mail sent to me is first filtered by Brightmail (www.brightmail.com), a spam-filtering service that forwards all suspected spam to my server-side spam folder. Then anything that it's unsure of goes into my suspect queue and waits for my intervention before it's downloaded. Those who send e-mails that arrive in my "suspect queue" receive a request for more information. While initially this prospect horrified me as being incredibly unfriendly, I have rarely if ever received a complaint. It's an unfortunate necessity of using e-mail these days. It also is another way you can keep junk mail from reaching your desktop.
Linux E-Mail ClientsOne of the must-have features in e-mail clients these days is the ability at some level to have a spam filter or at least the ability to add filters to handle spam in a more efficient fashion. The most common e-mail clients for the Linux desktop are all able to filter and in some cases include anti-spam facilities. The following round up is a short primer on how to deal with spam with three common Linux e-mail clients.
Thunderbird is an extension of the Mozilla project (www.mozilla.org) offering a robust e-mail client packed with features and capabilities that rival any commercial application. Also, Thunderbird is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, so if you are still considering the move to Linux you can try out Thunderbird today on your non-Linux desktop, and then still be able to use the same client when you move to Linux.
Thunderbird is probably the most advanced of any Linux e-mail client in its spam-filtering abilities. Thunderbird has junk mail controls that are very effective in detecting and acting on unsolicited e-mail. Spam can then be detected and deleted or stored in a folder for later review in the event of a false positive. Also, Thunderbird has a way to "whitelist" e-mail so you can be assured that e-mails from a certain address never get "wrongly imprisoned" by your spam filters. One innovative feature in Thunderbird is the option to use adaptive filters that can analyze incoming messages and flag those likely to be junk e-mail (see Figure 1).
Novell's Evolution e-mail client is one of the most popular e-mail and PIMs (Personal Information Managers) for Linux. While there are no specific filters in Evolution there are many ways to prevent spam from clogging your Evolution inbox. Most definitely you should choose not to allow the loading of images from the network as referenced earlier. In Evolution, under the Evolution Settings -> Mail Preferences -> HTML Mail you should check "never load images off the Net" or "load images if sender is in address book" (see Figure 2).
Just because Evolution doesn't include a spam filtering system doesn't mean you're out of luck. Actually Evolution has a powerful filtering system that can access spam filters outside the program. Many Linux users have been successful in allowing Ximian to access bogofilter (www.bogofilter.sourceforge.net) via a wrapper script and then using bogofilter for a statistical process known as the Bayesian technique to make decisions on what is and is not spam. Also, the same SpamAssassin that I highlighted for server use could be used on your Linux desktop in conjunction with Evolution and the mail filters in Evolution.
KMail, which is part of the KDE desktop, is also a popular Linux e-mail client and while there is no anti-spam features included in the current release, the next version of KMail will add an "Antispam Wizard," which if you have the capability now I'm sure your e-mail will never be without it again (see Figure 3).
Web-Based E-Mail ClientsSince you may be migrating to Linux gradually, you may still be working between two operating systems. So downloading and storing mail in one system versus another may not be in your best interest while you're in transition, or maybe you've decided to store your e-mail on a server that has scheduled backups. This approach is very advantageous because you can access your e-mail from almost any Web browser on numerous platforms. Also, it's a step in the direction of centrally managed applications and data that, I believe, improves the potential success of desktop PC users on most any platform. Also, by keeping data on the server rather than on disparate desktop PCs, you can have it managed consistently across an organization, applying spam filtering and virus checking on the server rather than at each individual user's desk. This approach is usually more efficient than each user doing it on an individual basis.
That's why solutions that offer server-side management and storage like IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) are valuable, because they allow you to access messages as if they were local but require a network connection to do so. There are a number of solutions for doing this. If you have a POP or IMAP server you can use a number of popular "free" Web interfaces including Squirrel Mail (www.squirrelmail.org/), Neomail (http://sourceforge.net/projects/neomail/), or the full-featured Horde Project (www.horde.org). The bottom line is that reducing the complexity of the PC desktop makes it easier to choose which platform you want to use, avoids vendor lock-in, and improves your ability to choose how you will accomplish your desktop computing goals.
SummaryNo matter what your platform or your e-mail client preference, spam is a fact of life. Hopefully you're already using some of my prescribed methods to reduce your spam burden. If not, you might have something to think about when you finish this article. My best advice for dealing with spam: prevent it from entering your inbox in the first place. Deal with it at the server level, where you can provide an enterprise-wide blanket of protection from spam and viruses, then be vigilant on your desktop to keep malicious programs out of your workspace.
SCALIX: Server-Based E-Mail and CalendaringScalix, an enterprise messaging company, headquartered in San Mateo, CA, believes that Linux is the ideal platform to build messaging solutions based on the openness and security of the platform. However, they also recognize that users migrating from Windows to Linux are going to encounter differences between the two platforms; their solution is to provide a robust Web-based interface. They also provide a Web client, Scalix Web Access, that is more robust than many Web-based e-mail clients and allows you to work in the three-pane type of environment your current mail solution uses rather than in a single Web page.
This next-generation Web interface including calendaring is a viable alternative to traditional e-mail clients. In addition, Scalix includes hooks for easy integration of third-party spam filtering additions.
|Dan Jacobson 10/19/04 03:36:18 PM EDT|
Well, who's going to send you email if they have to pass a quiz or you keep changing your address.
Docker is an excellent platform for organizations interested in running microservices. It offers portability and consistency between development and production environments, quick provisioning times, and a simple way to isolate services. In his session at DevOps Summit at 16th Cloud Expo, Shannon Williams, co-founder of Rancher Labs, will walk through these and other benefits of using Docker to run microservices, and provide an overview of RancherOS, a minimalist distribution of Linux designed expressly to run Docker. He will also discuss Rancher, an orchestration and service discovery platf...
Mar. 29, 2015 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,419
Wearable technology was dominant at this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) , and MWC was no exception to this trend. New versions of favorites, such as the Samsung Gear (three new products were released: the Gear 2, the Gear 2 Neo and the Gear Fit), shared the limelight with new wearables like Pebble Time Steel (the new premium version of the company’s previously released smartwatch) and the LG Watch Urbane. The most dramatic difference at MWC was an emphasis on presenting wearables as fashion accessories and moving away from the original clunky technology associated with t...
Mar. 29, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,394
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vitria Technology, Inc. will exhibit at SYS-CON’s @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Vitria will showcase the company’s new IoT Analytics Platform through live demonstrations at booth #330. Vitria’s IoT Analytics Platform, fully integrated and powered by an operational intelligence engine, enables customers to rapidly build and operationalize advanced analytics to deliver timely business outcomes for use cases across the industrial, enterprise, and consumer segments.
Mar. 29, 2015 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,160
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional Social, Mobile and Cloud user experiences, our solutions help large and medium-sized organizations dr...
Mar. 29, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,818
SYS-CON Events announced today that Liaison Technologies, a leading provider of data management and integration cloud services and solutions, has been named "Silver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Liaison Technologies is a recognized market leader in providing cloud-enabled data integration and data management solutions to break down complex information barriers, enabling enterprises to make smarter decisions, faster.
Mar. 29, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,437
The WebRTC Summit 2014 New York, to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 16th International Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit.
Mar. 29, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,570
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential M2M Brand by Onalytica in the ‘Machine to Machine: Top 100 Influencers and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed the online debate on M2M by looking at over 85,000 tweets to provide the most influential individuals and brands that drive the discussion. According to Onalytica the "analysis showed a very engaged community with a lot of interactive tweets. The M2M discussion seems to be more fragmented and driven by some of the major brands present in the M2M space. This really allows some room for influential individuals to create more high value inter...
Mar. 29, 2015 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 4,657
After making a doctor’s appointment via your mobile device, you receive a calendar invite. The day of your appointment, you get a reminder with the doctor’s location and contact information. As you enter the doctor’s exam room, the medical team is equipped with the latest tablet containing your medical history – he or she makes real time updates to your medical file. At the end of your visit, you receive an electronic prescription to your preferred pharmacy and can schedule your next appointment.
Mar. 29, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 748
The world's leading Cloud event, Cloud Expo has launched Microservices Journal on the SYS-CON.com portal, featuring over 19,000 original articles, news stories, features, and blog entries. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. Microservices Journal offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. Follow new article posts on Twitter at @MicroservicesE
Mar. 29, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,440
The list of ‘new paradigm’ technologies that now surrounds us appears to be at an all time high. From cloud computing and Big Data analytics to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the Internet of Things (IoT), today we have to deal with what the industry likes to call ‘paradigm shifts’ at every level of IT. This is disruption; of course, we understand that – change is almost always disruptive.
Mar. 29, 2015 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,096
SYS-CON Events announced today the IoT Bootcamp – Jumpstart Your IoT Strategy, being held June 9–10, 2015, in conjunction with 16th Cloud Expo and Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Javits Center in New York City. This is your chance to jumpstart your IoT strategy. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but includes hands-on demos and walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of Do-It-Yourself IoT platforms including Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark and Intel Edison. You will also get an overview of cloud technologies s...
Mar. 29, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,087
SYS-CON Events announced today that SafeLogic has been named “Bag Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. SafeLogic provides security products for applications in mobile and server/appliance environments. SafeLogic’s flagship product CryptoComply is a FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic engine designed to secure data on servers, workstations, appliances, mobile devices, and in the Cloud.
Mar. 29, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,408
SOA Software has changed its name to Akana. With roots in Web Services and SOA Governance, Akana has established itself as a leader in API Management and is expanding into cloud integration as an alternative to the traditional heavyweight enterprise service bus (ESB). The company recently announced that it achieved more than 90% year-over-year growth. As Akana, the company now addresses the evolution and diversification of SOA, unifying security, management, and DevOps across SOA, APIs, microservices, and more.
Mar. 29, 2015 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,048
GENBAND has announced that SageNet is leveraging the Nuvia platform to deliver Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) to its large base of retail and enterprise customers. Nuvia’s cloud-based solution provides SageNet’s customers with a full suite of business communications and collaboration tools. Two large national SageNet retail customers have recently signed up to deploy the Nuvia platform and the company will continue to sell the service to new and existing customers. Nuvia’s capabilities include HD voice, video, multimedia messaging, mobility, conferencing, Web collaboration, deskt...
Mar. 29, 2015 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,457
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Mar. 28, 2015 08:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,793
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cisco, the worldwide leader in IT that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cisco makes amazing things happen by connecting the unconnected. Cisco has shaped the future of the Internet by becoming the worldwide leader in transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborate. Cisco and our partners are building the platform for the Internet of Everything by connecting the...
Mar. 28, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 5,187
Temasys has announced senior management additions to its team. Joining are David Holloway as Vice President of Commercial and Nadine Yap as Vice President of Product. Over the past 12 months Temasys has doubled in size as it adds new customers and expands the development of its Skylink platform. Skylink leads the charge to move WebRTC, traditionally seen as a desktop, browser based technology, to become a ubiquitous web communications technology on web and mobile, as well as Internet of Things compatible devices.
Mar. 28, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,829
SYS-CON Events announced today that robomq.io will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. robomq.io is an interoperable and composable platform that connects any device to any application. It helps systems integrators and the solution providers build new and innovative products and service for industries requiring monitoring or intelligence from devices and sensors.
Mar. 28, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,461
SYS-CON Events announced today that Akana, formerly SOA Software, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Akana’s comprehensive suite of API Management, API Security, Integrated SOA Governance, and Cloud Integration solutions helps businesses accelerate digital transformation by securely extending their reach across multiple channels – mobile, cloud and Internet of Things. Akana enables enterprises to share data as APIs, connect and integrate applications, drive part...
Mar. 28, 2015 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,539
Cloud is not a commodity. And no matter what you call it, computing doesn’t come out of the sky. It comes from physical hardware inside brick and mortar facilities connected by hundreds of miles of networking cable. And no two clouds are built the same way. SoftLayer gives you the highest performing cloud infrastructure available. One platform that takes data centers around the world that are full of the widest range of cloud computing options, and then integrates and automates everything. Join SoftLayer on June 9 at 16th Cloud Expo to learn about IBM Cloud's SoftLayer platform, explore se...
Mar. 28, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,633