September 19 2016 Editor Assistance Newsletter
Thank you all so much as we resolved our issues with our mail server. Here is the summary.
A spammer was able to guess the password of one of our editors and began sending out a high stream of spam through that editor's account. The editor did not notice this happening and, since I don't read editors' emails, I had no idea this was happening either. I was only aware when the flood got so heavy that it began to impact our actual server performance. I was then able to track down where the traffic was coming from and which account was involved.
It took a while, but the spammer is blocked and the spam messages are now all removed and deleted. The giant log files created during this activity, which were filling up our server, have been backed up and removed from the server.
I'm going to be running some additional maintenance over the next few days so the servers might be a little slower than usual. It will help us, going forward, watch for this type of activity.
In general, please aim to check your email every few days at least. If you ever see a flood of incoming bouncebacks of spam sent in your name, and definitely if your inbox reaches a "quota full" state because of this type of activity, immediately change your password. And then let me know what you saw. I can lend a hand deleting out all the spam and blocking the IP address so the spammers have a harder time getting in again.
It's a never-ending battle against spammers. They use vast arrays of machines so if we block one IP address they just use another one. They have automated programs which sit there guessing-guessing-guessing passwords all day and night, without sleep, until one works. And once one works, they relentlessly hammer their spam through figuring they have to get as much sent as possible before they're caught and shut down.
Our main defense is to have an extremely hard-to-guess password that is fairly long. If your password has let's say 12 characters involving ! or ? their password-guessing programs would have to take decades to guess it and by then we'll be visiting webpages via our brains :). If a spammer still is able to get into an account, our second line of defense is to check our email regularly and see when a flood of email is pouring claiming to be spam sent by us. That's the moment to immediately change the password and let me know about it.
As a final note, if you see serious mail server issues that seem to be causing trouble for our mail server, it probably means that mailing me at my bellaonline.com email won't get to me promptly :). Instead use my Lisa@LisaShea.com or LShea@Charter.net accounts which are direct. You can also message me at Facebook which I should see even if *all* my mail are wholly down for some sort of PC meltdown reason.
Let me know if you have any questions!
Lisa Shea, owner
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