Occasional Massive Buildup of Messages in Pending Queue

70 pts.
Microsoft Exchange 2000
Microsoft Exchange 2007
We have an Exchange 2000 installation acting as an edge/relay/gateway server in our DMZ. This machine runs our anti-virus/anti-malware scans (we use McAfee for our email gateway protection) before the email is passed through to our interior Exchange 2007 server. (And yes, we are testing an Exchange 2007 Edge Server deployment before implementing it.) Occasionally we will get literally thousands of incoming messages, most of which are spam, of course, that accumulate in the pending SMTP queue and thus legitimate email delivery gets delayed.
  1. Outside of a spam storm (and given how spammers operate II would think we would see it more often than once every month or two like we see it now), what could be happening here to cause this massive build-up?
  2. We normally comb through the queue trying to pick-out the legitimate email and deleting the spam in the queue; however, particularly when the machine is very busy during the business day, it can take forever just to delete say, 100 (of the spam) messages (not to mention the strain on the eyes, the occasional deletion of a valid message, and time it takes to do this). Is there a utility or does anyone have a better method of addressing this?

Answer Wiki

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We had the same issue for our organization. We went with Postini services. Our mail servers are now configured to accept mail from ONLY Postini. This has effectively dropped our inbound mail to 10% of what it was before putting spam filtering in the cloud. In other words, all e-mail to my organization is 90% spam and 10% legitimate.

Be sure your edge mail servers are not configured as relay hosts for any domain but your private domain and that the relay point is from the inside out and no one can spoof your domain on the outside and relay messages.

One feature that Postini has that is useful is blocking directory harvest attacks. This has also significantly reduced inbound messages to legitimate addresses only.

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  • Richlich
    Many thanks for the suggestions! That host is only set to relay to the interior email server so that's not a problem. Unfortunately, right now a Postini-type service or even a Barracuda or some such isn't in the cards. (I wish it were.)
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