New MDaemon Feature Helps Detect Spambots

Ever wonder why so much spam exists today? By some estimates, more than 100 billion spam messages are sent every day. This represents around 85 percent of global daily email traffic. Some of the most common types of spam messages include financial scams, phishing attempts, ransomware, and botnet malware. In this article, we focus primarily on botnets.

Spam is big business. The barriers to entry are low and the payoffs are high. If a spammer sends out 50,000 spam messages, but only a handful of users click on a link in one of these messages, the spammer’s efforts will likely have paid off.

A single spammer may not have the resources to send out a large-scale spam attack, however, a spammer’s job is made much easier by the use of botnets – networks of hundreds or even thousands of malware-infected computers (known as spambots) that can be remotely controlled over the internet.  Similar to legitimate cloud services such as Amazon’s AWS, a botnet-for-hire provides individuals with ample cloud-based resources to carry out large-scale spam campaigns with very little effort.

According to Spamhaus, the top five countries with the most spambots are India, Vietnam, China, Iran, and Brazil. As of May 23, 2016, India had close to 2 million spambots!

The botnet-for-hire industry is a growing industry that makes it easy for anyone to send out thousands of spam messages using the botnet as the attack vector.

In addition to sending out spam, botnets can be used to launch DDoS attacks by flooding a company with thousands of connections over a short period of time – in an effort to try to shut down a company’s network or to damage its reputation.

User education is likely the most important factor in preventing a computer from becoming a spambot. The following are a few guidelines that every email user should know by now.

  • Never open an email from an unknown source.
  • Never open an attachment from an unknown source.
  • Even if the sender appears to be someone you know, always verify – because spammers often forge the sender’s address.
  • Use anti-virus software on your local computer.
  • Learn how to recognize phishing
    • Messages that contain threats to shut your account down
    • Requests for personal information such as passwords or Social Security numbers
    • Words like “Urgent” – portraying a false sense of urgency
    • Forged email addresses
    • Poor writing or bad grammar
  • Don’t give your email address to sites you don’t trust.
  • Don’t post your email address to public websites or forums.
  • Understand that reputable businesses will never ask for personal information via email.

For more of these guidelines, see our blog posts – Email Safety Tips for End Users and Ransomware and Banking Trojans are Big Business.

Spambot Detection in MDaemon

The information provided above applies primarily to end users, but what actions can be taken by the mail server administrator to detect and prevent spambot activity? While MDaemon has many spam-fighting features, MDaemon 16 includes tools to detect spambot activity and block it from further communication with your server. This new feature is called Spambot Detection. Spambot Detection tracks the IP addresses that every return-path value (sender) uses over a period of time. If the same return-path is used by multiple IP addresses (more than can be expected from users switching between their computers and mobile devices) in a given timeframe, then it’s possible that this activity is being generated by a spambot. Of course, it’s also possible that this activity is completely legitimate. However, in some cases, tests have shown that this can be an effective tool at detecting a distributed spambot network as long as the same return-path is used in the spam messages. If a spambot is detected the connection is dropped and the return-path value is optionally blacklisted for a designated period of time.  You can also optionally blacklist all known spambot IPs for a designated period of time.

As with most MDaemon security features, various settings allow you to bypass Spambot Detection for mail from trusted sources. You can exempt specific IPs, senders, and recipients from Spambot Detection using the White list feature, and exempt connections from authenticated sessions or trusted IPs. Click on the Advanced buttons to view a list of return-paths or IPs that are currently blocked. If a return-path or IP is blocked by mistake, you can easily remove it from the list.

We demonstrate how to configure Spambot Detection in this tutorial video.

Spammers are always coming up with new ways to spam users. That’s why user education and a properly configured mail server are equally important in the war against spam.

Spambot Detection is one more tool in MDaemon’s arsenal of anti-spam and security features. When these features are enabled, MDaemon can help protect your users and your business from spam, phishing attempts, and malware. For more information on protecting your MDaemon server, check out our knowledge base article on recommended MDaemon security settings.

If you’re not yet an MDaemon user, and would like to take advantage of its robust security and anti-spam features, click here to download your free trial!

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New MDaemon Tutorials Added to YouTube

If you haven’t seen our YouTube channel lately, you’re missing out on some valuable information that can be used to help you manage MDaemon and SecurityGateway. Recently, we’ve added several new MDaemon tutorial videos. Here are a few that might interest you.

MDaemon Graphical User Interface (GUI) Overview

In this video, we provide a tour of MDaemon’s graphical user interface. We show you where to find key security, administration, and account management settings, how to navigate your way through the mail queues, and how to find information in the mail routing, security and spam filter logs using the tabs across the bottom of the MDaemon interface.

MDaemon’s File Structure

One of the benefits of MDaemon that make it easy to troubleshoot and administer is its file structure. All key settings are stored in configuration files located in the MDaemon/App directory, and user email messages are stored in the Users directory. This flat-file structure makes MDaemon very easy to backup and restore using simple drag & drop.

How to Enable and Use Two-Factor Authentication in WorldClient

Two-factor authentication is a security feature found in WorldClient, MDaemon’s webmail client, which requires users to submit two forms of identifying data – a password, and a special code or token, before they are able to login. Two-factor authentication helps prevent accounts from being hijacked by someone who manages to guess the account’s password. A potential hacker would have to know the second authenticating factor in order to access the account.

Enabling Do Not Disturb to Establish Work/Life Balance for Employees

MDaemon’s Do-Not-Disturb feature allows administrators to set a time during which certain users are not allowed to check for or send new email messages. In an age where we’re all constantly connected via mobile devices, this helps foster better work-life balance for your users.

These are just a few of the tutorial videos on our YouTube channel. Visit our YouTube channel for other tutorials, product overview videos, webinars, and more. If you haven’t tried MDaemon yet, click here to download your free trial and see how easy MDaemon is to use!

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MDaemon 16.0.2 Available – with “Remember Me” for Two-Factor Authentication

MDaemon 16.0.2 has been released. This update includes a “remember me” feature for two-factor authentication in WorldClient. With this feature enabled, users will not have to re-enter a verification code for a designated period of time.

Other new features and enhancements include:

  •  Global administrators can now set the Mail Archive path in Remote Administration.
  • The Remote Administration group editor now supports Do Not Disturb scheduling. This allows administrators to schedule a period of time during which email cannot be accessed for all accounts that have been assigned to a group.
  • Administrators can now sort the Active Sessions list in Remote Administration – for an improved view of server activity.
  • Global administrators can now disable two-factor authentication for selected users in Remote Administration.

These are just the highlights for MDaemon 16.0.2. For a complete list of new features and fixes, view the MDaemon release notes. If you’d like to update to MDaemon 16.0.2, you can download MDaemon here.

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