A spam fighter's work is never done

Friday, 28 March 2003, 12:50 PM EST

It was the end of another 12-hour day filled with hostility, deception and confusion, and an exhausted Suresh Ramasubramanian, a systems administrator at a Hong Kong ISP, was finally getting ready to head home.

On his way out the door he happened to take one last look at the network status and noticed that a mail bomb -- a flood of incoming spam messages -- had just begun.

Ramasubramanian realized he probably wouldn't be getting any sleep that night.

He spent the next eight hours struggling to block the spam attack and contain the damage. The huge volumes of mail the spammer was sending -- several hundred thousand messages at a time from different Internet protocol (IP) addresses at the rate of 20,000 every 10 minutes -- was clogging his servers and seriously slowing down mail service to his legitimate users.

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