Email Bombing: Causes and Effects

Email has revolutionized the way people communicate with co-workers, loved ones and anonymous strangers. However, it also created new avenues for harassment and attack. Email bombing is a malicious attack that at one time was powerful enough to interrupt access to your email account and sometimes the entire server on which it was hosted.

Email bombing is a form of denial of service attack that floods an inbox and mail server with messages. If enough messages are sent, the systems may be overloaded and they will stop working. Many Internet service providers (lSPs) regard email bombing as a violation of the terms of service and they will suspend accounts of people involved in such attacks. (wiseGEEK)

Email bombing saturates the victim’s email capability. Simple email bombing involves sending thousands of messages to a person’s email address. Email subscription bombing subscribes victims to dozens or hundreds of mailing lists, each of which sends multiple messages on a daily basis. In many instances, the message will be large and constructed from meaningless data in an effort to consume large amounts of system and network resources. Multiple accounts at the target site may be attacked, increasing the denial of service impact.

Email bombing, according to SUGANYA SUKUMAR, is the process of sending large number of mails into someone’s mailbox, with an intent to affect the operating system of a computer or a network. It is also termed as email flooding, as the targeted mailbox is flooded with a barrage of mails. When your mailbox is flooded with unwanted and junk emails, your mailbox capacity will get exhausted and you won’t be able to receive any mails further. This action prevents you from reading the legitimate mails. It can even be used to completely overload any company’s mail server. It is done intentionally with an intent to affect the DOS (Disk Operating System) of a computer.

Causes of Email Bombing:-

Prominent causes of email bombing are the following-

  • Overloading of the network connection
  • Loss of connectivity
  • Denial of service
  • Consumption of all system resources
  • Syslog entries


Email bombing is a kind of denial of service attack, also known as a DoS. An email inbox is filled with thousands of nonsense messages, filling all of the allocated space on the server. If an email client like Outlook Express or Thunderbird is used, the program may crash or stall the computer while trying to download all of the messages.

According to JESSICA KOLIFRATH- Email bombing is more annoying than malicious code now due to improved software and server storage capabilities. Finding an inbox full of thousands of messages from one source may be annoying, but has little impact on a computer or an email account. Spamming, or the sending of unwanted advertisements, and spoofing, where an email appears to be from a bank or trustworthy person but is actually a scam, are the email attacks used more commonly now.


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