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Spam snags @Home mail system

Subscribers to the cable Net service have trouble receiving email after a spammer uses "work@home.com" as a return address.

@Home (ATHM) subscribers had trouble receiving email for three days after a spammer sent out a mass mailing this weekend to America Online members using "work@home.com" as the return address.

Hundreds of thousands of emails bounced back to the Internet cable service, overwhelming its servers, Matt Wolfrom, a spokesman for @Home told CNET Radio earlier today.

The messages formed a huge email queue that prevented subscribers from receiving their email. Users were able to send email from their @Home accounts.

This weekend, @Home engineers updated the system with enhanced filters to protect it from the massive bounces, Wolfrom said. He added that the email system only suffered delays and was never completely down.

"New emails are being delivered with ease; however, some of the emails sent out during the delay may be received out of sequence," Wolfrom noted. Backed up email still is being sent.

He pointed out the new updates and filters will prevent this type of problem, which he labeled a denial-of-service attack, from happening again anytime soon.

@Home and its 50,000 members rarely suffer email or service glitches. Cable companies are hoping this doesn't change. The cable Net provider is striking deals with companies whose success depends on the service's "always on" promise.

On Monday, Tele-Communications Incorporated said it will provide its subscribers with a variety of @Home services, including email. Subscribers will be able to send and receive email through TCI's next generation set-top box.

Spam shutdowns are nothing new to online services. They increasingly are spending time and money to prevent the problem before it happens. Many have spent thousands of dollars trying to prevent their customers from being cut off from their email, which many Netizens consider to be the most vital part of the Internet.