MS Exchange Relay Authentication

From: Hovermale, Jake (hovermalej_at_BEINETWORKS.COM)
Date: 09/25/03

  • Next message: Brett Moore: "Shattering SEH III"
    Date:         Thu, 25 Sep 2003 17:58:49 -0400

    We've seen quite a few Exchange Servers recently being used as relays.
    Relay restrictions are set to "allow all computers which successfully
    authenticate to relay, regardless of the list above." We've removed this
    option and added the appropriate servers to the granted computers list
    and the problem goes away. Some remote users may need to reset their
    email settings to use the local ISP's smtp server but that's how it
    should be anyway.

    We've seen tens of thousands of messages on average piled up in the
    queues. Exchange 2000 handles it much better than 5.5. 5.5 seems to
    crash the server more often than not. 2000 handles it but your Internet
    browsing may not work too well. We've done some searching and have found
    a few others with similar problems.

    It seems that account passwords are being cracked. At that point the
    spammer can successfully authenticate and voila, free relay server.
    Removing the 'authenticate-relay-option' solves the relay problem but
    not the fact that the passwords are so easily cracked. We've been
    enabling the maximum setting on the MSExchangeTransport SMTP Protocol to
    look for eventlog errors to track down the compromised accounts. We've
    also suggested resetting all account passwords with stronger settings,
    removing all unnecessary accounts, and patching the systems. All this is
    the usual stuff but we've seen this on systems with all but the most up
    to date patch set so we're not at all sure where vulnerability is or how
    the passwords are being cracked.

    Anyone have any insight?

    Thank you,


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