Verizon digs out from spam blizzard

Will angry ISPs give us a break?

Major American ISP and Gargantuan telecomms generalist Verizon (a monstrosity produced by the marriage of Bell Atlantic and GTE) was deluged with so much spam last week that its servers were unable to function at times, and left customers with something like a 24-hour e-mail delivery delay.

It just so happens that The Register's Washington Bureau is a Verizon DSL subscriber, and we can confirm that our own e-mail service has been severely hobbled for periods of up to eight hours since then (apologies to our beloved readers still waiting for sarcastic replies to their flames).

While the company has since added software and hardware firewalls (which should already have been in place, but we digress) and strapped on some extra capacity, it has been frustrated in efforts to clear its pipes of the offending pink substance since its gear still has to function whilst being snaked out.

"It's like that classic I Love Lucy episode where Lucy works on a conveyer belt packaging pies. Once she gets slightly behind, the backup begins and only gets worse," Verizon spokesman Larry Plumb remarked to The Register.

Whereas it might take only two days to separate the spam from the legitimate mail if the contaminated equipment could be taken off line, best estimates under the circumstances indicate that the job won't be complete until Friday, Plumb explained.

A good deal has already been done, and currently most subscribers are experiencing delays of about five minutes, he said. With that in mind, we increased our server timeout option to five minutes (the maximum allowed) in Outlook with some success, and recommend it to our frustrated readers for partial relief.

Verizon believes it knows the domain or ISP where the spam originated but wouldn't spill the beans to us until the police investigation is complete.

Here we hope to find a ray of hope for all of us persecuted by spammers. As more ISPs begin to count the costs in terms of bandwidth stolen, maintenance hassles and customer frustration, they could actually get together and apply something like real lobbying pressure in Washington to counterbalance the Herculean efforts of advertising lobbyists to maintain the unpalatable status quo.

Well, ya gotta dream.... ®

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