Spam clogs German government's e-mail system

German parliamentarians and government employees experienced long delays with their e-mail delivery earlier this week, following a flood of spam that clogged the government's e-mail system, a spokesman at the Federal Ministry of the Interior said Friday.

Speaking on Friday the spokesman said: "We aren't having any difficulty so far today but, yes, we have had problems this week." He declined to say whether the flood of unwanted e-mail was the result of a targeted attack or an internal computer hitch.

The spam has come in the middle of a German government debate on an antispam law.

Some e-mail messages arrived three days late, the spokesman said.

The crippling tide of spam has come in the form of non-delivery reports, which are generated when mail can't be delivered. Over 500,000 such reports were sent at one point to the government's central mail server, according to German public service broadcaster ARD.

For technical reasons, the reports could not be removed centrally, ARD said, citing a document obtained from the Informationsverbunds Berlin Bonn (IVBB), the government IT unit established to manage, among other things, the government's e-mail service in both Berlin, the capital, and Bonn, the former capital, which is still home to several federal ministries.

The unit uses state-of-the-art intrusion detection systems, according to an official from federal government's main IT agency, the KBSt.

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