Development company almost destroyed by spam

Crashes Web server

Hit by more than 7.5 million spam e-mails in a single day, the Melbourne-based Aged Care Software Group, watched in horror as the onslaught of spam crashed its Web server and almost put the company out of business.

This was just one disaster associated with its e-mail system, according to the company's managing director, Ken Wragg.

"We were having all sorts of trouble with our e-mail at this stage. We weren't getting any e-mail through in the end," he said.

"It was a matter of fix it or go out of business."

A software provider to the aged care sector, the company has 25 years experience developing systems for around 500 clients across Australia.

Wragg said the company has spent more than two decades building its reputation only to see it almost destroyed by spam.

"Aged care is a small industry - everyone knows everyone and if you're not delivering it gets around by word of mouth," he said.

The Aged Care Software Group has always hosted its own Web server but spam was crashing the system and Internet link daily.

Wragg said legitimate e-mail wasn't getting through so the company couldn't communicate with customers.

"A lot of our support requests and sales requests come through e-mail. If you're not getting support requests in this game, you're dead," he said.

The company moved its server offsite hoping to solve the problem but the spam nightmare continued.

Wragg said the company was still receiving 200 spam e-mails a day even though a spam filter had been installed.

"It was driving me nuts. I think every spammer on the planet had our details. It was crazy," he added.

The massive spam assault wasn't just causing frustration but costing the business money. In fact, download costs were spiralling.

Despite changing its Internet plans several times to try and overcome the problem, it was costing an extra $400 a month in excess download charges.

"We suffered two hacking attempts that, if successful, could have been catastrophic for the business," Wragg explained.

"We are a software development company with all our source code on the servers."

Wragg had reached a point where he believed his problems couldn't get any worse when his e-mail connection began to fail.

For six weeks, he said the company received virtually no e-mail. Then it was hit by more than seven e-mails in a single day.

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