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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The /etc/mail/access File

The /etc/mail/access File

You can make sure that only trusted PCs on your network have the ability to relay mail via your mail server by using the /etc/mail/access file. That is to say, the mail server will relay mail only for those PCs on your network that have their e-mail clients configured to use the mail server as their outgoing SMTP mail server. (In Outlook Express, you set this using: Tools>Accounts>Properties>Servers)

If you don't take the precaution of using this feature, you may find your server being used to relay mail for spam e-mail sites. Configuring the /etc/mail/access file will not stop spam coming to you, only spam flowing through you.

The /etc/mail/access file has two columns. The first lists IP addresses and domains from which the mail is coming or going. The second lists the type of action to be taken when mail from these sources or destinations is received. Keywords include RELAY, REJECT, OK (not ACCEPT), and DISCARD. There is no third column to state whether the IP address or domain is the source or destination of the mail, sendmail assumes it could be either and tries to match both. All other attempted relayed mail that doesn't match any of the entries in the /etc/mail/access file, sendmail will reject. Despite this, my experience has been that control on a per e-mail address basis is much more intuitive via the /etc/mail/virtusertable file.

The sample file that follows allows relaying for only the server itself (, localhost), two client PCs on your home 192.168.1.X network, everyone on your 192.168.2.X network, and everyone passing e-mail through the mail server from servers belonging to Remember that a server will be considered a part of only if its IP address can be found in a DNS reverse zone file:

localhost.localdomain           RELAY
localhost                       RELAY                       RELAY                    RELAY                    RELAY
192.168.2                       RELAY                     RELAY

Note: You'll now have to convert this text file into a sendmail readable database file named /etc/mail/access.db. The script we configured at the beginning of the chapter does this for you too.

Remember that the relay security features of this file may not work if you don't have a correctly configured /etc/hosts file.

The /etc/mail/local-host-names File

When sendmail receives mail, it needs a way of determining whether it is responsible for the mail it receives. It uses the /etc/mail/local-host-names file to do this. This file has a list of hostnames and domains for which sendmail accepts responsibility. For example, if this mail server was to accept mail for the domains and another-site then the file would look like this:

In this case, remember to modify the MX record of the DNS zonefile point to Here is an example (Remember each "." is important):

; Primary Mail Exchanger for

Note: Be sure to run the script from the beginning of the chapter for these changes to take effect.

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