Open Mail Relay Virus and Spam Information FAQ's

Q: What is an open mail relay program?

An open mail relay is a mail server program that will accept emails sent from a third-party and forward these emails to different third-party computers, while bypassing your email program (i.e. Microsoft Outlook). This is done without your consent or knowledge. From the point of view of the recipient of such emails, open mail relays are a nuisance. Most email sent through an open relay may be considered to be spam.

After gaining access to your computer (through the use of a virus or Trojan program), a computer hacker is able to redirect and/or send large quantities of email through your computer. You may have allowed your computer to become an open mail relay by either downloading programs containing hidden malware (short for “malicious software”), or perhaps your computer has become infected with a virus. Either way, all spam sent through your open mail relay will appear to have originated from your Internet connection.

Q: How do I start to clean up my computer files?

The first thing you should do to prevent your computer from becoming infected is to locate and remove any virus-infected files. We recommend that anyone who accesses the Internet should install an anti-virus program on their computer (i.e. McAfee, Norton & Pc-cillin). There is also a free online virus checking service available from Panda Software. Once you have installed an anti-virus program and have it running on your computer, the chances of receiving an undetected virus-infected file is much reduced.

You must also follow the anti-virus program manufacturer’s instructions on how to update the virus definition files. The virus definition files are the data files that the anti-virus program needs in order to stay up to date with the latest viruses out there. Outdated virus definition files cannot recognize new viruses.

Q: What will happen if I don’t check my computer for open mail relay programs?

If you become an open relay server the recipients of the forwarded messages (commonly referred to as spam) will send reports of email abuse to your Internet Service Provider (ISP), i.e. DMTS. It is possible for an infected computer using a dial-up service to send over 30,000 spam messages in one hour. If you are using a broadband high speed Internet service, the numbers would be much higher. This is why ISP’s must take action against open mail relay connections. If DMTS were to allow an open mail relay to continue, other ISP’s would place DMTS on a “black list”, and block any email from DMTS Internet customers.

This would impact not only your ability to send email to family or friends using that particular ISP but also every other DMTS Internet customer.
If we find that your computer has become the victim of an open mail relay we will contact you, place your account on hold, and ask that you attempt to remedy the situation. Generally, we ask that you perform a thorough virus scan of all hard disk drives on your computer(s). Once this process has been completed and your virus definition files are up-to-date, you should be virus free and the open relay files will have either been removed or quarantined. After contacting us and informing us of the actions you have taken, we would then re-activate your account.

We also recommend that your computer be thoroughly checked for spyware, which gathers information about your web surfing habits.

Q: What is Spam?

Spam is an inappropriate attempt to use an email address, as a broadcast or advertising medium by sending the same message to any number of people who do not want or ask for the message. Spam is often an irritant to people and can cause email to become slower as the ISP (Internet Service Provider) networks are forced to process millions of spam email messages. Spam can also cause your email to download slower as you receive more and more of these messages.

Q: How do they get my email address?

Companies can get your email address through a variety of ways. Many will purchase mailing lists from online database sites or other ‘spamming’ companies. Your name can be added into these databases when you share your email address online, for example these companies may scan newsgroups and websites to collect email addresses that have been posted. Another method used by these companies is sending email to automatically generated email addresses at common domains, eg. aa1234@domain.com, aa1235@domain.com etc.

Development: WMAD.