SpamAssassin 2010 Bug

Written 8 years ago by Mike Cardwell

I use SpamAssassin to filter the spam out of my incoming email. Last night I noticed that a legitimate email had a particularly high spam score. On further investigation I found that a rule named FH_DATE_PAST_20XX was triggering:

* 3.2 FH_DATE_PAST_20XX The date is grossly in the future

I checked the Date header of the email and it looked totally fine to me. It had just changed from the year 2009 to the year 2010. Could that be a coincidence? A quick look in /usr/share/spamassassin/ turned up the rule:

header FH_DATE_PAST_20XX Date =~ /20[1-9][0-9]/ [if-unset: 2006]

Oops. That regex matches on any year between 2010 and 2099. I googled for the rule and came across this:

In the comments it mentioned the problem which I found: Note: the current rule in 3.2 will start matching legitimate dates from 2010-01-01. See issue #5852. Looking at issue 5852, the problem was first identified on 2008-Nov-05 and was fixed in CVS on 2009-Jun-30. I’m using the standard stable Debian package which doesn’t contain this fix yet so I had to stick the following in my file to apply a score of 0 to it:

score FH_DATE_PAST_20XX 0.0

I think a lot of systems will be experiencing false positives on their ham because of this at the moment. It is a particularly high scoring rule considering that the default threshold is 5.0.

As I understand it, rules aren’t distributed with SpamAssassin as of the next version (3.3) so hopefully problems like this wont happen in future. The fix which was supplied for this problem five months ago was to update the regex so it matches 2020-2099 instead.

You can read the thread I started about this issue on the SpamAssassin users list here. It’™s the one started at Fri, 01 Jan 2010 00:57:37 GMT with the subject line “FH_DATE_PAST_20XX”

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