trickle of unatuhorized email being sent from local


Jan 9, 2014
cPanel Access Level
Root Administrator
How can I tell which process is sending out emails?
I am seeing bouncebacks and the email is being sent out by the main cPanel user (established when hosting account was created)

The server is starting to get listed in a RBL

Thanks Rick


from the log /var/log/exim_mainlog

cwd=/home/**user**/public_html 5 args: /usr/sbin/sendmail -t -i -f [email protected]**domain**.com

These are sending out emails from random addresses all [email protected]

aValidName = not a vaild user on the system - just a readable name.
- = a hyphen
linuxtimestamp = if you covert the seemingly random number it is a time stamp of when the email was sent.
**domain* = the same domain each time.

I know the domain in question.
These are not smtp incoming emails they are generated by a process on the server as reflected in the mail headers.


Staff member
Apr 11, 2011
Hello :)

The message logs you provided show that mail is coming from:


Check that directory for scripts with the ability to send out email.

Thank you.


Senior Technical Analyst
Staff member
Sep 23, 2013
cPanel Access Level
Root Administrator

I would search the public_html folder for the mail() function...

# grep -r 'mail(' *
I'm betting some PHP script or plugin for WordPress/Joomla or other CMS software is poorly written and sending spam out.


Well-Known Member
Oct 20, 2009
cPanel Access Level
DataCenter Provider
Grepping recursively for the PHP mail function is a crap chute.

First, check output from ps faux for any suspect PID's running as that user.

Second, take the exact timestamp from one of the messages in exim mainlog, and try to match that up to the exact same time in the domains access logs. This is a much better way to search for spam from scripts.

If that still leaves you scratching your head, clamav or maldet might find the script(s) if there is a malicious PHP mailer. Sometimes mail is sent from legitimate files (such as a "tell a friend" feature), so virus scanners won't find that.

last ditch effort would be checking crontab or possibly grepping for the php mail function, but a lot of spam scripts just use an eval or exec call, or encoded code that will avoid being found with that grep command. You're almost better off looking for base64() calls instead of mail().
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