Porn spam at Parliament

Ruth Berry in the NZ Herald reports on the case of the poor ACT receptionist who was getting around 1,000 pornographic spam e-mails a week.

I have considerable sympathy for her. My old parliament e-mail address would get deluged in spam. It didn’t help that back in 1996 I actually posted from it to some Internet newsgroups including news.admin.network.abuse.email which is where people used to co-ordinate against spammers, and as a result you get added to every spam list for sale, for all time.

And that preview function of Outlook is very embarrasing, especially when a female MP is in your office, and a spam comes in, with a very explicit close-up photo of body parts which only one gender has. A very quick explanation of what spam is, followed.

Parliament has been slow to put spam filters in. The issue has been that one can not block legitimate mail to MPs, so even a 0.1% false positive rate is too high. But most solutions will allow the receipient to decide whether they want e-mails marked as spam deleted without viewing, or diverted to a spam folder that they can check through every so often. This then allows individual MPs and staff to decide if they want to risk false positives.

Personally I got so sick of the spam, that I iinstalled my own anti-spam filters and programs. However very few users can install software on their PCs, as they normally even block access to the C Drive. Luckily there are ways around that 🙂

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