In Memoriam of Ellen Rosintoski

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Remembering a friend

In 1998, Ellen Rosintoski went looking for a way to get email spam out of her inbox. Her search lead her to spamcop.net, then a small, freely-available service designed to help users report the spam they received. She volunteered, and spent several years helping users figure out how to take back their inboxes from the spam that threatened to inundate them. Later, when SpamCop added a DNSBL, she fielded inquiries from angry listees. She counseled many businesses on how to set up their own abuse desks and how to stop the spam emanating from their networks. She became a paid employee when SpamCop was acquired by IronPort Systems, and worked as a SpamCop deputy until her retirement in 2009. As Ellen seemed incapable of idleness, she volunteered with Spamhaus after her retirement up until her death.

Ellen was certain she knew what good behavior on the Internet looked like and her quiet, behind the scenes work was more valuable than she ever let on. She never sought attention or recognition for her work, but she challenged those she worked with to be better and smarter. Ellen empowered countless Internet users with the knowledge to help clean up their own parts of the Internet, and she challenged the listees she worked with to straighten up and fly right.

She was smart, fierce, funny, and never hesitated to tell you what she really thought. She talked fast but she thought faster, and had an unparalleled ability to detect falsity and dissembling. She was also a talented knitter, quilter and seamstress.

Ellen passed away on February 19, 2015. Those of us who knew and worked with her will miss her always. The Internet anti-abuse community is a far, far better place today because of her work, and we are all profoundly poorer for her loss.

Kelly Molloy is a Senior Program Manager Farsight Security, Inc.

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