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Is A Catch-All Address Worth The Spam?

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the so-much-trouble-in-the-world dept.

Spam 579

wildzeke writes "I plan on switching Internet providers this summer to get a faster speed. Since losing an email account is the biggest pain when switching providers, I decided to pay the extra money to have email for the domain I registered. One of the options provided is to make one of your email accounts a catch-all account. In other words, any email sent to this domain with out a valid user name, will be dumped in the catch-all account. The question I have, is this a good idea or not? On one hand, it may catch important email such as admin, or postmaster or simply mis-typed user name. On the other hand, the catch-all will open the flood gates to spam who will send to [all user names in the world]@domain.com."

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No brainer (4, Insightful)

tarquin_fim_bim (649994) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727385)

If the mail is from an intelligent human being they will generally conclude from the returned mail that they have erred, and readdress it accordingly. In the event of any other outcome you are probably better off not receiving the mail.

Re:No brainer (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9727485)

Having worked end-user tech support, I think you're overestimating the intelligence of the average email user :)

You'd be surprised at the sheer volume of users who invert a couple of letters or add a space in the middle of the address, and then *insist* that it's spelled correctly, and something must be wrong with our server for not delivering the mail properly to some random domain (not hosted by us). And yes, if they don't believe us over the phone we get them to forward the bounce message to us so we can confirm that.

So, if the concern is old Mrs. Pepperpot isn't going to remember the proper address to type and may in fact enter it into her email address book incorrectly, that's actually a pretty fair assumption.

GNAA announces plans to assassinate George W. Bush (1, Troll)

users.pl (689022) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727387)

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No big problems here (5, Insightful)

andyrut (300890) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727389)

Buying your own domain is a smart move. As long as you keep paying for the domain, your e-mail address can travel with you, even when you change ISPs.

From personal experience, I've found that only a very small percentage of spam I get comes from using the catch-all address. I get only a few junk e-mails to "webmaster", "postmaster", and other generic usernames. A far greater portion of it is addressed to the "real" e-mail address I use that's been plastered all over the web for years and years.

Judging only from my inbox, it would seem that spammers are more likely to use lists of known e-mail addresses than trying to guess valid usernames for a domain. My advice would be to use the catch-all address and just wait and see if spam becomes a problem. Turning off the catch-all wildcard, if need be, is a very simple operation.

Re:No big problems here (1)

Frisky070802 (591229) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727421)

I'll echo this experience. I get a little mail to webmaster and such, which I auto-direct to my spam folder. I haven't had any occasions for dictionary attacks to lots of names, probably because it's a personal domain that doesn't attract so much attention.

If I ever run into trouble, I'll simply identify the valid emails explicitly and put everything else into spam.

Re:No big problems here (1)

morcego (260031) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727532)

Same thing for me. I have 4 domains with catch-all addresses, and I can't remember when was the last time I was a victim of a dictionary spam attack.
Anyway, make sure you have some good spamfilter in place, and hook a few address (webmaster, and common names like john@ that you don't use) directly to feed it.
Lets face it. We need spam protection. And if it is any good, having wildcard addresses on your domain won't give you any extra problems.

Re:No big problems here (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9727428)

This post is extraordinarily ontopic. Mod me for insightful.

Re:No big problems here (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9727441)

That is, until the DSL provider you host your domain on decides to block port 25 because someone else on your ISP was spamming or relaying spam. :|

Spammers ruin it for everybody.

Re:No big problems here (3, Informative)

toonerh (518351) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727466)

Right after registering a domain, you'll often get a few spam's hawking hosting services, ect. Verisign (no flames please!) does allow you to opt out of their bulk sale of whois data - although why are they doing it in the first place?

Also for $9 a year you can buy a redirected e-mail address that changes every 10 days that appears as your whois contact.

Re:No big problems here - not correct for me (2, Interesting)

sprior (249994) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727474)

From my personal experience I've been getting a LOT of spam lately which is addressed to "made up" addresses at my domain. Either an awful lot of people lately have been giving out fake email addresses at my domain or spammers are somehow making them up from reasonable sounding usernames that never existed at my domain.

Re:No big problems here (1)

Best ID Ever! (712255) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727497)

I get only a few junk e-mails to "webmaster", "postmaster", and other generic usernames.

Most of the junk I get comes to the email address that's listed in WHOIS. That accounts for probably 99% of the spam I get, since I don't post my real address anywhere.

Re:No big problems here (1)

syrinje (781614) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727501)

I can vouch for the desirability of the domain name portable email approach too - I finally got myself a domain and use it to provide portable addresses for my family using email forwarding.

The good thing is that email forwarding is free from most registrars. Some support only a limited number of specific email address forwards while others allow an unlimited number, so shop around for a good registrar....it is an educational experience to read about the Verisign evil emipire for example.

I would recommend that you turn off the catch all option (or at least set filters in your mail client to weed out mail to any address you havent specifically configured). That way you don't habve to stay up all night wondering if you need bre??t or pe??s enlargement depending on your sex. Of course, you are more likely to receive spam on the email ids that you leave sprinkled around in the mandatory registration pages - so use a different email address for that - instead of your permanent one. Or just get the Mozilla plug-in to bypass registrations.

Of course that means you lose out on some really entertaining spam - the best I have ever received offered to teach me everything I ever wanted to know about septic tank cleaning systems. Now thats a cathartic experience... :)

Re:No big problems here (1)

Shinsei (120121) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727538)

Well.. I can imagine the catch-all idea would definitely not be a good idea if you have an isp that enforces some kind of bandwidth limit to your account.. I guess it would depend on the domain name though.. But you could easily get a few MB of traffic per day wasted, just because you got a lot of spam..

FP!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9727390)

fp

Your shouldn't worry about that (4, Insightful)

toetagger1 (795806) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727391)

If you use a spam filter, you sould not have to worry about it. You are not exposed to more kinds of spam, just more instances. And since spam filters currently have no issue with volume, you should be ok.

Re:Your shouldn't worry about that (1)

rd4tech (711615) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727545)

Hmmm.. interesting thought, is there a threshold limit of emails over which your statement hold true?

Re:Your shouldn't worry about that (1)

toetagger1 (795806) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727551)

why don't you post your E-mail addy here, and that should be good enough of a try!

conditions (2, Funny)

TedCheshireAcad (311748) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727393)

just be glad you're not asdf@asdf.com.

Re:conditions (2, Funny)

Liquidity (62369) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727422)


I think foo@bar.org might get even more.

I'm too lazy for that (1)

baywulf (214371) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727435)

I type a@b.com

Re:conditions (1)

VistaBoy (570995) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727476)

I'm use noneof@your.business for filling out forms.

Re:conditions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9727503)

I usually use something like registration.sucks@domain.com where domain.com is whatever site I am trying to get into.

Re:conditions (2, Funny)

Ryan Huddleston (759930) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727492)

support@microsoft.com seems to do quite nicely :-)

Re:conditions (1)

beacher (82033) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727519)

While you're getting your own domain, use that to your advantage and sign up on websites so you can track if they sell email address lists

Extract from today IRC session.. names changed accordingly

[IRCer1] hrm, looks like ajc.com got hacked
[IRCer1] getting bounces for spam with ajc@(domain_removed) as the return address
[IRCer1] only place i've used that email address is ajc.com
[IRCer1] so either they sold their mailing list
[IRCer1] or got hacked by email harvesters
[IRCer_2] i'd call they sold it

They are afraid of it too... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9727521)

Just so you know, that e mail address wont work....

http://www.asdf.com/asdfemail.html

bayesian filter is your friend (2, Insightful)

elucubra (685819) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727394)

set it up, but make sure you have a good bayesian filter to weed out the crap.

Re:bayesian filter is your friend (1)

xcham (200708) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727407)

Exactly. SpamAssassin will do the trick.

Re:bayesian filter is your friend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9727447)

i prefer bi-asian filters.

bounce? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9727395)

if anyone really emails your domain, and it bounces, won't they figure it out?
Seems like a useless feature.

spammers should be shot (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9727397)

read the title. FP?

Re:spammers should be shot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9727560)

you fail it.

Really , (1, Funny)

rd4tech (711615) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727400)

I can't understand some people, sometimes spam makes so exciting reading...

Re:Really , (1)

lphuberdeau (774176) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727508)

You must recieve a lot o p0rn emails to find it exciting.

I just get everything filtered on server side spamassassin ;)

Re:Really , (1)

phalse phace (454635) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727558)

You wouldn't happen to be this guy [slashdot.org] , would you?

first post sucka (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9727401)

tidepool forevah!

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9727403)

Doesn't matter, the only stuff sent to other addresses is spam

now if you want to know how you got the e-mail, based upon what email address they used, then it's helpful

Isn't that the POINT? (5, Insightful)

SuperRob (31516) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727404)

What does it matter if it opens you up to spam. It's a catch-all account right, isn't that what it's supposed to do?!?

yeah.. (1)

khrtt (701691) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727406)

..and don't forget to send the spammer's IP to the spam blacklists automatically.

awww yeah (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9727408)

especially 'f1rstp0st@domain.com'

Just to be first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9727409)

yay

the answer: (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9727410)

stop being such a whiny faggot and grow some balls, you spamophobic pedophile slashdot faggot-ass nerd.

Spam eh? (1)

Agret (752467) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727413)

Maybe you could set one of those up and use all the spam detection software you can find (i.e. Spamcop) i'm sure other people will post the URLs to some spam detection software which you can run on your server. That way you get to reduce the ammount of spam that you have to sort through while searching for legit emails. Most of the spam these days is ovbious spam like Subjects which make no sense and often have lots of spelling errors in the body. Beacuse of this you can detect spam by hand quite easily too.

Anti-spam should still function (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9727415)

If your catch all address forwards to your personal mailbox, your antispam solution should still filter the junk no matter where it's sent. In fact, you should probably be able to ratchet up the spam rating a bit for anything which is not sent to your personal account, and give yourself a bit of a head start...

I do it (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9727417)

I do it. I've found that although a lot of spam gets sent to that email, people aren't going to just send adsflkjes3542@domain.com an email. Randomly guessing email doesn't get you a hit. Most spam kings purchase emails. Why? Because they need valid emails.

You're opening your gates to nonvalid emails, but that doesn't seem to be a threat. As stated earlier, no one wants nonvalid emails.

Here's one way to get the most from it (5, Informative)

quinxy (788909) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727418)

As someone who has been using a catch-all account for years, and has enjoyed the benefits and suffered the consequences, I would suggest you do it (though not without some warnings and recommendations). I do receive a fair amount of SPAM for accounts which have never existed on the system. I have also endured several periods when some SPAMmer referred to fake accounts at my domain in the return-to of the SPAM they were sending out (they were not using my mail server, they simply made up random usernames for my domain). Since they were random (both the names they used and the content of the SPAM) it was impossible to easily filter out. That sucked. I would receive hundreds of bounce messages per day. Ultimately I was able to make it stop by writing a script to post every bounce message I received through to the support form on the websites being advertised (modifying for each of the three or four sites which were involved), making the normal "cease and desist" legal threats. It seemed to work, since the SPAMs did stop soon after (presumably those sites complained to the SPAMmer they employed), and the SPAMmer no doubt moved on to some other fake accounts. Bastard. One of the best features of the catch-all is that you can totally control to whom you give out your "real" e-mail address, as well as track who is using the e-mail addresses you are giving out. For example, if you want to register at example.com for something, you give them the address me.example@yourdomain.com (or some structure which has a prefix or postfix, the 'me.', and the site name for which you are registering). You'll be able to receive that sites mail until you either don't want to, or until you see that they have abused the privilege of e-mailing you. Often I will see six months after registering to some site, I start getting tons of SPAM from the e-mail I gave to that site, and I can then simply block that on the mail server, bouncing them or sending them to /dev/null (via aliases, for example). This is the greatest strength in using catch-all addresses. To mitigate the danger I mentioned previously of fake usernames, one should (though I am no sendmail expert and don't know how) set up a rule that any incoming recipient address must correspond to an existing account/alias, OR the catch-all structure you want (the whole PREFIX.SITENAME@yourdomain.com). Q

Re:Here's one way to get the most from it (1)

epsalon (518482) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727480)

Can you e-mail me and/or post the scripts you used for the bounces. I'm in the middle of being joe-jobbed for random addresses on my domain. I'm trying to filter these for spam content, with varying levels of success.

Oh, and don't use the default address posted above (It's blackholed). Use quinxy AT alon.wox.org. Thanks.

Re:Here's one way to get the most from it (1)

HardJeans (793993) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727547)

Or instead of sending it to /dev/null, simply forward it to the customer services email address of the site you signed up for. So every time a spammer sends email to example@yourdomain.com, it gets forwarded to customerservice@example.com Give them a taste of their own damn medicine.

For my take on spam visit www.levijohnston.com/spam.htm [levijohnston.com]

This is what I do... (3, Funny)

flamechocobo (792168) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727419)

I just write mail back. It's rather funny when you get a reply from the spammer. That isn't automated.

Nay I say! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9727423)

I'd say that people will have a harder time remembering 'just put down anything you want @mydomain.com' than telling them specifically send it to 'joebob@mydomain.com'. Thus that kind of cancels out the advantage, and still leaves you ripe for spammage.

Incidentally, first post (albiet it's probably been taken by the time I'm done typing this...)

Nope (2, Insightful)

Inominate (412637) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727424)

Not at all.

The ideal setup is to have several addresses.
One for close friends, associates, individuals and people who the address is sent to privately.
A second address for mailing lists, and any kind of public posting.
And a third address for anything guarenteed to end up in you getting spam. (Website signups for instance)

Then you simply drop it into three different folders. This method combined with a good spam filter can eliminate virtually all spam.

the whole /point/ of a catchall address is spam (5, Insightful)

luge (4808) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727425)

It is great. You never have to worry about giving out an indiscriminate address again. Signing up for a fantasy league on cnn/si? I used cnnsi@mydomain. cnnsi sold it and now I get several hundred spam a day there. And I can trivially filter and nuke them, with the added bonus that I know never to send them my business again. amtrak has amtrak@mydomain, I get all the mail from it, and can easily track that they have never violated their TOS. It's the greatest thing- I heartily recommend it to anyone who can.

I agree (1)

poptones (653660) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727478)

And the worse offender I have so far is the slashdot@ address I setup here. Not that slashdot sold it of course - it's just been mined by every spammer on the block since a story submission was accepted. Lesson well learned there!

I've gotten maybe a dozen spams with "made up" to: fields. I think the OP is over-analyzing all this.

Re:the whole /point/ of a catchall address is spam (2, Interesting)

Mirlyn (634037) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727482)

This is exactly what I do, and what I've been doing for two years now per recommendation from another friend. I can't suggest this strongly enough.

If it ever gets violated, add that address to an account with zero or small size limit and let it bounce back to them.

I get less than a half-dozen pieces of spam per month. Most are to the address I put in the whois information (whois@domain), followed closely by sales@domain, info@domain and webmaster@domain, none of which were intended to be valid addresses anyway.

In a word... (1)

diogenes57 (43063) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727426)

No

Do It (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727427)

Then every time you sign up for something create a new email address. Thene you can figure out who is selling your address, filter out that particular address, and so on. It makes managing your email and filtering out spam much easier.

lots of spam (1)

kyknos.org (643709) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727429)

i get lots of spam to my catch all address - lots of names form some dictionary probably. but you can switch the catch all adress off if shit happens.

I gave it up after a year (5, Interesting)

killbill (10058) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727430)

I fought it for a year or so, coding up custom filters, using spam assassin, you name it, and finally just gave up and blackholed it.

Spammers are trying dictionary attacks against domains to try and guess live accounts. I would get 500+ copies of the same message to made up names in alphebetical order a day.

That being said, I have since gotten on the Gmail beta, and just forward all my mail there now. It has a far better spam rejection rate then anything else I have tried, so if you forward all your mail to a google account and let them try and sort out the spam, it would probably be usable (and maybe even helpful to them to train their filters).

Spam ID .. (2, Informative)

Manip (656104) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727433)

On the other hand if you leave the * account on, you don't need to creat a new account eact time you need one. I for instance only have one account on my mail server and that is the postmaster this allows me to invent e-mail addresses on the fly.

With this ability you can make an e-mail address for each use of your e-mail for sites and forums like Slashdot@Domain.com and if you start getting spam at that address you can quiet happily block it via the filter.

One Person's Experience (2, Interesting)

Rob Carr (780861) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727436)

One of the options provided is to make one of your email accounts a catch-all account.... The question I have, is this a good idea or not?

I have one of my e-mail addresses configured to catch all the "bad" addresses as you are talking about. There is an extraordinary amount of crap that account gets every day. It really isn't worth it, especially if you have the admin and postmaster addresses dump to your primary mail account.

mr_you_only_know_this_one@mydomain.com (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9727437)

so, if you get spam on this specific address you know where to complain.

I've had one for years... (1)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727439)

...and I get very little spam (maybe 10 a day) directed to anything@mydomain.com, whereas my regular address gets around 150-200 a day. Thank goodness I have Postini and Thunderbird.

I say go for it, because you can use filters to direct different addresses to different folders, which can be useful.

Yes (2, Funny)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727442)

As a geek, I run my own mail server. A "catch all" that goes to /dev/null is great.

Re: yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9727507)

Not really.. Its better for a server to *reject* (with an appropriate code such as 550) messages that it isnt going to deliver, than for it to accept them and throw them on the floor.

Spam drones will just ignore the 550, but real mail servers will return the message to the sender, who will then realize their mail didnt get through.

If mail just disappears, then neither the sender or the recipient realize it.

Also note: accepting the messages, and then sending a bounce (cough, qmail), is not really a good idea either - then your server queue gets clogged up with messages trying to bounce to invalid addresses - it should be rejected as soon as you realize its addressed to an invalid address - which should be immediately after the SMTP "RCPT TO", and with a '550 No such user' - and no spammers dont bother using this to validate addresses - it isnt worth their time.

No. (1)

keiferb (267153) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727445)

If you're worried about missing e-mail to 'important' accounts, just forward them to your real address. Don't bother with the catch-all. In fact, if you have the option, have it black-holed rather than bounced.

The best way to go would be to start with the catch-all, and once you get fed up with it, disable it. You'll feel a real sense of accomplishment when you see how much spam you stop.

It doesn't really happen (1, Redundant)

mabinogi (74033) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727448)

I've had a catch all address for over 4 years now...and whilst I get a fair amount of spam to that domain (just over 100 messages a day), the majority of those are to one real address I used years ago - and haven't used since. The rest is either to the main address I use, fairly standard guesses "sales@", "info@", "webmaster@", etc...or to one or two addresses that spammers seem to have made up, but have stuck. one of them is a misspelling of my name, another is "tressia" which I have no idea where that came from. But I definitely don't see "all usernames in the world"@mydomain

NO! (1)

MongooseCN (139203) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727450)

I tried this with my email account, just in case an important mail went to another address. The day someone decided to spam *@mongeese.org, I killed that option. Some spam bot prefixed random names to @mongeese.org. Needless to say I ended up with around 300 emails one morning. All with the same bodies but different email addresses. I'm suprised it wasn't more than 300, I figured a spam bot would try sending to more names than that.

Been there, done that (3, Interesting)

FrenZon (65408) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727457)

I run several catch-alls on my domains for several years, and I've never been spammed at [all]@[domains].com. However, just last week all my domains were hit by an email virus that did a dictionary-based attack. While it was all still caught by my spam filter, my spam filter is client-side, and after downloading 18200 emails, I decided it was time to shut down the catchalls.

The only thing I really had to do was notify my friends, who are long used to typing whatever they want into the username section of the domain, tailored to whatever it is they want (eg boywhowillfixmycomputer@, bikemechanicmanwhowillalsofixmycomputer@ etc).

Dictionary Attack (1)

jaredmcook (552049) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727458)

Just wait until the spambots launch a dictionary attack against your domain...

Up your spam by a factor of 100 (1)

shoppa (464619) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727460)

I see continual dictionary attacks against the domain names I own. When it happens I put the IP address of the spammer in the filter, but this only works for a short while because they're always moving around.

In my limited experience, most of the dictionary attacks come from IP's that traceroute back to Singapore. Just blocking all incoming SMTP from Singapore IP's would be smart but I don't know how to do something like that.

Re:Up your spam by a factor of 100 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9727520)

Hit http://blackholes.us/ and look for Singapore in the left hand column.

set it to bounce (1)

ufs (591455) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727463)

I set it to bounce such emails... it makes the spam less effective and a valid sender would realize a typo and resend the email with correct address

Yes (1)

Skynyrd (25155) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727467)

I do that, and I also use a dummy account for each new place I have to register (such as newyorktimes@mydomain.com). That way, I know who sold/lost/traded my address, and if I start getting lots of spam to it, I can actually create that account, and have all mail sent to the trash at my hosting service.

Yes, it's worth doing.

Yes. I use this approach (1)

AwesomeJT (525759) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727468)

I don't have any more of a problem with spam than I already do. I have a special account that is the catch-all and I filter the most on this account. Other accouts setup at my domain have les restrictive filtering -- which are email addresses for trusted friends and family. With the catch-all, I assign every company I do business with a unique email account in the form of: businessname@mydomain.com -- what is nice about this approach is that I can basically know who sold my email address to spammers by reading the "to" email header. If I start getting lots of spam addresses to bigonlinestore@mydomain.com -- well, I have a fairly good idea who sold me out -- and I can effectively filter a large chunck of spam by blocking anything addressed to bigonlinestore@mydomain.com.

From personal experience, this seems to be working well. I only get a handful of spam sent to random addresses at my domain.

Other folks may have different experiences, but this is what I have found and I usually get 500+ spams daily accross my personal domain email accounts.

Speaking from experience (5, Insightful)

Bradee-oh! (459922) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727469)

I have a catch-all address at my domain. YES, there are huge amounts of spam. BUT, it is definitely worth the trouble IMHO, and here's why.

1 - most of the spam seems to come to 5 or 6 addresses only - admin, root, sales, webmaster, etc etc. That's cake to filter out straight to trash.

2 - The convinience of being able to sign up for random websites with a different address on the fly is great. For example, signing up on ebay to buy something and using the address "fromebay@mydomain.com" means you KNOW that only one person in the world has your email address so you know who to blame if spam starts coming in, and it is also a piece of cake to automatically filter those ebay emails straight to an ebay inbox, for example.

3 - Not as significant as my first 2 points but still a nice perk in my setup is that I'm able to create email addresses for family and friends on the fly and just setup my own server to split the addresses out into their own inboxes.

So if you will be running the server(s) yourself over slow dsl or cable, the volume of spam MAY be a concern to you. I get about 600-700 spams a day to the common webministrater addresses I mentioned, but it's no concern to me because I don't run the incoming email server and my dsl is more than fast enough to d/l them in a few seconds.

But in any other case, I'd say it's well worth it! And on a slightly different note, I have been very impressed with the honesty and adherence just about everywhere has to their privacy policies regarding email addresses. over 2 years of using my system with about 50 "from@domain.com" addresses, only one of them screwed up and got the address on a spam list somehow - cancelling my account with them and filtering those spams straight to trash solved the problem.

No catch-all problems (4, Informative)

GrouchoMarx (153170) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727471)

I've been running my own mail account off of my own domain for about 2.5 years now, and I don't regret it. I do have the catch-all set to dump to my personal account, and it's not been a major problem. Most of the spam I get is addressed to a "real" address (either mine or one of my older accounts I have forwarded to me), and there's a lot of that, so the amount I get from the catch-all is negligible.

In practice, actually, most of the spam-related stuff I get is mail bounces attempting to a random address with a faked from line of 63745624573@mydomain.com (or something like that). I really should look into implementing SenderID, but that would require hosting the server myself on a my dynamic IP instead of letting my web host take care of it. :-)

See if you can flip it the other way 'round (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727477)

My webhost (which is where I do my e-mail) is the same way by default. It's catch all, then you just deny the addresses you don't want. So I used to do it like that. If an address started getting SPAM, it got on the ban list.

Well between the new viruses and SPAM tactics that try random first names, that wasn't at all working. So I flipped the mode. Now NOTHING gets forwarded, excpet for ones I specify. This means I have to go add a new forward before giving out a new e-mail to a compnay whereas before I'd just make one up, but it works just as well. If I get SPAM to one, I just shut it down and am done with it.

If they'll let you do that, it should work well for you.

Forward to different accounts (1)

jnguy (683993) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727487)

I currently forward all registered domain emails to my regular email which I check almost hourly. All of the rest are forwarded to, either another account, or something like Gmail. Works for me.

Charge for the spam (1)

Sebby (238625) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727493)

Since you'll be having your own domain for mail, and if you actually run the mail server that receives it, I would simply put in the server-to-server communication a condition that any spam is subject to a fee, and to not send the mail if they don't agree with the condition.

Then, when you get spam, just send them a bill.

When they don't pay, I'm sure you can get a judgement against them. Hell, you could probably put them on a list of dead-beat spammers and get them arrested eventually!

Antiviruses (1)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727495)

Spam really isn't the biggest problem i have with the domain mail -- as others have said, most spam will actually go to the addresses you actively use.

Use an email service that offers server-side spam and virus filtering and it'll be nothing to worry about. I use Fastmail.fm, and they use spamassassin and some AV service. It's great, cut down about 95% of the junk I used to get, and it's TOTALLY geek-friendly so you can customize it however you want or turn it off if you are a masochist.

The thing that is annoying are all the "error" messages i get from email servers because some virus attached some randomly generated name to my domain when sending out copies of itself. I can't very well automatically delete mail bounce messages, so i have to actually LOOK at those to make sure it wasn't something real.

Use the catch-all (1)

legLess (127550) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727496)

I've had a catch-all for years and I like it. I get a bit more spam than otherwise, but the thing I like is the ability to filter incoming mail based on how it's addressed. If I buy something online I always use $company_name as the address: "newegg@domain.com" for instance.

The catch-all means that I get this email. After I filter for spam, I have all mail sent to my primary, real, address put in one folder, and everything else in another.

You can filter by sender too, but this reverses the problem. As it stands I can proactively filter on my primary address instead of playing whack-a-mole by sender.

Namezero... (1)

outz (448278) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727502)

I pay Namezero $25 a year for my own domain... it comes with 3 (or so) pop3 accounts and unlimited email alias's along with a "catchall" alias... I use it all the time when registering for a site aka slashdot@mydomain.com. If the spam becomes too much, and it's just on that paticular address... i know who sold me out and I simply setup an alias via Namezero called slashdot@mydomain.com and forward to to the sites administrators email address.

Re:Namezero... (1)

outz (448278) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727553)

Oh, and i also forward my catchall@mydomain to my gmail account... their spam filter isn't perfect, but it's better than anything i've put together.

I made the wrong choice (1)

cdyson37 (584699) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727504)

I had a catch all account set up on both my domains, and I was recieving up to 4000 spams a day before I had had enough and switched it off - I don't care how good your filtering is - when the spam:legit email ratio is that high it's difficult to trust, and for that matter is a waste of bandwidth - Yahoo's POP3 server would also tend to fail if I had to download more than 200 at a time anyway.

You don't want a catch all email address - the only time it's ever been used by a human being was when they thought it would be funny to include some of the message before the @, etc.

Use a +* alias instead. (1)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727505)

Use a +* alias entry instead. This way, you still have a catchall, but it only "works" with the start of an address, and if the spam becomes unbearable, you can junk it totally and start afresh.

In a word... (4, Informative)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727506)


is this a good idea or not?


No, it's not a good idea. Looking through my mail server (and other mail servers I administer) I've seen A LOT of attempts by spammers to harvest email addresses by just trying a lot of common names on the domain (and some strange not so common addresses). If you had a wildcard address, you'd get all that spam to that box.

With no wildcard email address if people miss-spell a name on your domain, they'll get a prompt bounce message (and they'll probbably figure out the miss-spelling). With a wildcard they'll never figure out the miss-spelling, and may continue to use that wrong address.

There's also the problem of auto-generated virus bounce messages from other peoples servers. Most viruses lie about their from address, and can even make up a @yourdomain.tld. If you had a wildcard all those erroneous "you sent a virus" messages would go to your wildcard box instead of just bouncing.

Unless you want an account that's deluged with spam and like wading through it every so often on the off-chance someone sent a message to admin or postmaster, I'd not create a wildcard box.

Re:In a word... (1)

Dwedit (232252) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727539)

With a bounce, legimate users on the forged reply address get annoying false notifications about spam/viruses.

A littel change (1)

obli (650741) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727511)

Every time someone would ask for your Email adress, you'd just come up with a new one, that would be kickin' rad in my opinion.

And also, it would be interesting to see if people actually use your domain as a dummy mail (considering it's a fairly easy/funny domain).

Give it a try (2, Insightful)

phalse phace (454635) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727512)

All I can suggest is to give it a try for a while (couple of months, a year) and see what happens. If you get a ton of spam and no important email, then turn it off.

When I had my catch-all account, I rarely got any spam, and that's probably because most spammers won't really bother with trying to send you something at afhg329087dsfljifd90hlg@domain.com or whatever.

Bayesian filtering is your friend (1)

div_2n (525075) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727518)

Thunderbird is amazingly powerful at filtering spam after some training. It should help cut down on the hassle.

Just dump non-existent users (4, Interesting)

kstumpf (218897) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727522)

I think it's best to just reject mail addressed to non-existent users during the SMTP transaction. My outside relay uses Postfix's relay_recipient_map to validate all recipients before relaying inside... anything not matching gets rejected with a 550. This saves my content filters (amavis/clamav) alot of work since we get TONS of spam to non-existent recipients.

relay_domains = mysql:/etc/postfix/mysql-relaydomains.cf
relay_re cipient_maps = mysql:/etc/postfix/mysql-recipient.cf,
mysql:/etc/postfix/mysql-alias.cf
relay_transport = relay:mx2.somethingawful.com

If you don't validate recipients, then you probably SHOULD use a catch-all address. The alternative to this would be bouncing spam back to the (usually forged) sender, in which case you become part of the problem and can cause yourself major queueing problems.

Some empirical data (1)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727525)

I have a few vanity domains on my own personal server and I do not have a catch-all address enabled, so here are some stats:

# egrep "mydomain.com.*User unknown" maillog | wc -l
842
That's just me and YMMV of course, but there is no way I'd enable it given those results, and that's without one of my domains being Joe-jobbed. The last time that happened there would be another two digits before that "842", and all of those emails would have gone into the catch-all account.

Spam not a problem if forwarding also included (4, Informative)

Diamon (13013) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727528)

I recently switched to using e-mail from my registar/hosting company, they included one free address and I paid for an additional 5 mailboxes.

I set up an account for myself and my wife, and used the free account for a spam bucket. My account is set up as a catch-all. Whenever I sign up for something I use and address in the form slashdot.org@<mydomain>.com so if it does start getting spam I know who sold my e-mail address.

If any spam comes in being caught by the catch-all I set up a forwarder to my spam account. For example dns@<mydomain>.com gets forwarded to spam@<mydomain>.com I then just set up my e-mail client to dump anything that comes in via the spam account directly into the trash.

To date I have received spam on three addresses that didn't really exist (dns@, sales@ and info@), but overall it works very well.

Re:Spam not a problem if forwarding also included (1)

Diamon (13013) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727555)

P.S. I use no spam filters with this configuration, it just isn't needed.

Be Careful with Catch-All Accounts... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9727531)

I host my own personal domain (something like johndoe.com) with a hosting company. I had a catchall account, and used it to great success when giving out my e-mail addy. (For example I'd give stores their own name: homedepot@johndoe.com, walgreens@johndoe.com, etc. Not these specific example, but you get the gist.)

Anyhoo, somehow, someway, somewhy, a spammer got ahold of my domain. And they created just about every possible name you could imagine for my domain: janey123@johndoe.com, rty5632@johndoe.com, ricksmith@johndoe.com, etc. Of course, it's just me at the site. But I suppose they didn't care. To make a long story short, I started getting over 1,000 spam messages per day in my catchall. And now it's grown exponentially. The assholes even send the same spam to the same addy, like, ten at a time. So basically my domain is fucked. And of course, once you get on some dumbass spammer list, they ALL start sending it to you. I've had my catchall account turned off for the last several months, and it's set to bounce back. But it makes no difference.

Every month or so I turn it back on to see if they've given up, but it's just more and more and more of the same. Until a cure for spam is found, I'm dying over here. It makes my e-mail almost useless. Sheesh. Please someone do something about this stuff.

Hopefully this won't happen to you, but if it does, you're screwed. :(

spamgourmet.com (1)

Anonymous Cowdog (154277) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727535)

'nuff said.

Here are some numbers.. (1)

Blackbrain (94923) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727542)

I recently narrowed down my catch-all e-mail address to a handful of addresses I actually use. Before the switch I was averaging 1,200 spam a day. After the change I am averaging 300 spam a day.
My suggestion is to find a forwarding service that allows you to set a list of what gets sent and what gets blocked.

Catch-all (1)

StarHeart (27290) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727543)

In my experience a catch-all has worked out well. While I do see dictionary attacks constantly at work, I don't think I have ever seen one on my personal domain. I am not sure why, but I can think of many possible reasons. One being that I have a .org instead of a .com or .net. In that isps with lots of customers use .com or .net, but generally not .org. Another is that there may be some minimal number of addresses from the same list for them to dictionary attack it. Overall my domain doesn't seem to really be on the spammers' radars. I do get spam to root@, postmaster@, sales@, etc.

An even better method than a classic catch-all would be a extension catch-all. ie something+(anything)@domain.com instead of (anything)@domain.com. An example jsmith+amazon@domain.com. You can do this with many MTAs and the two most common extensions are + and -. - will work more universally, but if users want some-thing@domain.com as an e-mail address it won't work with - as the extension. Supposedly a few uncommon e-mail clients, and a few very uncommon mtas have a problem with it.

The best method I have for cutting down spam is a greylisting, http://www.greylisting.org/ [greylisting.org] . It cut spam down in volume from 10x real mail to 1x. So instead of 90% of mail being spam, 50% of mail is spam.

No Daddy! (2, Interesting)

davekebab (613420) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727552)

Now I am using GoDaddy as registrar, I found it's them that's filling the inbox with spam. The default inbox is riddled with bollocks sent to godaddy@mydomain.com.

They're bloody cheap and'll do anything an extra few cents..........

DK

Greece is the Word

I had to turn mine off (1)

laserone (107602) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727556)

I had to turn all my catchalls off (for several domains) because when a spammer decided to spoof my domain, I got several hundred spams A MINUTE that bounced bak and flooded my inbox. This happened several times (i.e. toeach of my domains) and in the end I had to turn off all the catch alls to stop the flood of spam bounces. Hundreds a minute! Those were a few bad days.

Yeah, it's great..... (1)

ssimpson (133662) | more than 10 years ago | (#9727559)

Seriously, I was worried about having a "*@samsimpson.co[m|.uk]" e-mail catch-all and getting tons and tons of spam. In reality (after 4 or so years) I always get mails to my externally used addresses (sam@ & delme@). I never get mails to any other address in my domain.

Having a catchall address is nice because it allows you to register at websites with sitename@domainname.com and still get the mail (and notice instantly if they sell on your details).

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