[unisog] Handling Rejected eMail Notifications

Christopher A Bongaarts cab at tc.umn.edu
Wed Apr 10 19:20:37 GMT 2002


As E. Larry Lidz once put it so eloquently:

> So, as a list administrator, I would strongly encourage people who are
> implementing these systems to make sure that they handle mailing lists
> in a sensible fashion.

In a similar vein: our email virus detection software sends out
notices to senders of viruses saying "the message you sent had a
virus".  If someone sends a message to a mailing list that has a virus
(or, as just noted, something that "looks" like a virus :), the
notification gets sent back to the SMTP envelope sender - in the case
of mailing lists, this is usually the "-request" or "-owner" address.

It seems that nowadays mailing list software often tries to automate
the removal of bouncing addresses from their lists.  These virus
notifications are often mistaken by the mailing list software for
undeliverable notifications.  Thus, a user who happens to be on a
mailing list to which someone sends a virus ends up getting
unsubscribed through no fault of their own.

One could argue this is the mailing list software's fault for being too
aggressive in what it considers a bounce message, or our virus
software's fault for not being smart enough about where it sends the
virus notifications (or that it shouldn't send them at all, esp. in
light of the DoS potential represented by Klez and friends).

%%  Christopher A. Bongaarts  %%  cab at tc.umn.edu       %%
%%  Internet Services         %%  http://umn.edu/~cab  %%
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