Janesville72°

Council's e-mail spammed

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
October 24, 2008
— The Janesville City Council's e-mail address got slammed with spam earlier this week, but staff is hoping it will be up and running again by Monday.

"This was a situation where somebody used the city council's e-mail address to send unknown messages throughout the world," said Jay Winzenz, acting city manager.


When messages were sent to invalid addresses, they bounced back as being undeliverable.


Winzenz got a call from Councilman Yuri Rashkin on Tuesday night. His Blackberry has a link to the city e-mail, and it was being bombarded.


The city received about 7,000 of the bounced-back messages each hour for the first five to six hours, but Gordy LaChance, the city's information technology manager, stopped the forwarding mechanism to the council in about 40 minutes.


Winzenz described the episode as a "reverse service attack." The spam filter didn't recognize the message as bad because they were legitimate, non-deliverable messages.


The city doesn't know what message was attached.


Most servers stop trying to deliver mail after 72 hours, so hopefully the link will be working by Monday.


The e-mail traffic already has decreased dramatically.


Attacks such as these on institutions are not unusual, Winzenz said.


Staff will now go through the e-mails and delete the offending messages.


Residents still can contact council members by going to the city Web site, clicking on the city council link and scrolling down to the council member directory. The individual e-mails are listed in document form.



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