Friday 28 March, 2014
Are you getting email messages bounced back to you with a terse message from Spamhaus? Or are ISPs blocking you because you’ve offended a monkey that munches on spam?
Although they sound strange, these are both legitimate organizations that protect email users from spam. If not for them, we’d all get inundated with billions more messages than we already do. They provide a valuable service but it’s not always perfect. Sometimes we anger the spam monkey even when we don’t mean to.
Welcome to the Spamhaus
Spamhaus is an international nonprofit organization set up in the late 1990s to bust spam. It tracks spam and spam-related activities. Although based in Geneva, Switzerland, it employs a team of 38 volunteer specialists in 10 countries.
Spamhaus maintains DNS black lists and white lists. It provides real-time spam protection for Internet providers that use these lists. It also works with law enforcement agencies to go after big-time spammers. This is a free service.
This organization blocks about 80 billion spam emails per day around the world. That’s something like a million messages per second. If you’ve been identified as a spammer, it will bounce your messages back to you. You may get listed on the wrong list purely by accident or bad luck. It may also happen because you’re using a grey hat or black hat ISP.
The only thing you can do is to try and get a hold of Spamhaus to get your good name cleared. A common complaint about this organization is that they’re hard to get a hold of and there’s not much transparency in how they operate.
Revenge of the Spam Eating Monkey
There’s a little monkey that lives in cyberspace and eats email spam. Like Spamhaus, Spam Eating Monkey is an international organization with lots of power. It also provides blacklists and real-time spam chewing for Internet providers. The monkey will also bounce back your messages if you’re unlucky enough to get on its bad side.
One thing that’s nice about the monkey is that they have an online form where you can apply to be delisted. Lots of folks have said in webmaster and DNS forums that the monkey is quite merciful. Once they check you out and find out you’re a legit business, you’re clear. It usually only takes a day or two and it’s easier than Spamhaus.
The Spam Police
The trouble with both of these services is that, while they keep lots of spam from reaching inboxes, they also keep perfectly innocent emails from getting there. It’s a real shock to find out that you’re a spammer and you didn’t even know it.
Contacting them and getting your name cleared is the first thing you should do. You might also consider changing your ISP. Both of these services punish you for your ISP’s sins. It’s kind of like they’re saying you live in a bad neighborhood.
If someone is spamming from your email address, it’s more serious. If your account has been compromised, change the password and consider moving to a new address. Most of all, don’t despair. Even churches have ended up on the wrong side of the spam police.