As part of setting up a domain on your VPS, you will have created an email inbox. Normally, this is an “firstname.lastname@example.org” account which you use for all technical and other queries, contact from your hosting company and so on.
On cPanel, the setup wizard also includes choosing a “default email address” for undelivered mail to the server. Most people set this to either bounce emails with a “no such address” reply or to forward all communications to the admin address. Personally, I always used the latter out of a sense of duty to respond to incoming messages.
The unfortunate downside of doing that, however, is the enormous amount of crap email that gets sent by spammers to addresses that do not exist, in the hopes of finding “live” mailboxes they can bomb with their useless bollocks.
It looks like a no-win situation: you block them and they can trim their spam lists to save time and money; you don’t block them and you get flooded with junk.
So I found a neat little workaround which doesn’t fill the admin mailbox and doesn’t give the spammer a “no such address” reply. Instead, it forwards their emails to a spam reporting service which will, in turn, contact their ISP and have their accounts closed. Cue the hammer of justice and an evil laugh.
Here’s how it works:
1. Sign up with Spamcop.net – the free membership works fine, but it’s a great service run by the lovely folks at Cisco, so please do consider a paid membership. That’s not a referral link and they didn’t pay me to say that.
2. Once you’re signed up and confirmed, go to the site’s Report Spam page. The top section looks like this:
3. Find the line where it says “Forward your spam to:” – I’ve masked it on that image, of course. Copy the email address.
4. Log in to cPanel for your domain and choose the “Default Address” option in the “Mail” section. I’ve circled it in red in the image below:
5. On the options page, click the radio button next to “Forward to email address” and paste the Spamcop address you copied into the text box.
6. Click “Change” to complete the process.
And you’re done! Now all those annoying spam messages won’t be sent to your admin account: they will go to Spamcop and get processed, analysed and forwarded to the appropriate ISPs.
Eat that, spammer scum!