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[epub] Re: news.admin.net-abuse.sightings and spammer databases

From: epub
Subject: [epub] Re: news.admin.net-abuse.sightings and spammer databases
Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2003 13:07:54 -0400

At 11:37 AM 9/10/03, you wrote:
Can anyone provide some insight into the listings in the Google group

First, it's a newsgroup. Most ISP's allow you to read newsgroups locally. Google just offers an interface to read and post to newsgroups.

My understanding is that people can
forward emails to the group that they consider to be spam, though the
veracity of the claims is not verified just because messages appear in
the group. Right so far?

That's true with ANY reports of Spam. It's always in the eye of the recipient as to whether it constitutes Spam or not.

What really confuses me is the following. I've been testing email
service providers. EZezine, which is small but seems very well run, had
no spam reports in news.admin.net-abuse.sightings. During my tests using
Ezezine's service, I was completely unable to send to AOL. Subsequently,
EZezine has publicly announced major issues with filtering in general,
to the point where it sounds like their business is threatened.

I'm not familiar with their service. To be honest, we've experienced problems with AOL delivery in the past on one of our platforms. AOL has become very helpful with mailing list hosting companies in recent months in making sure that legitimate email does get through.

Because a service doesn't show up in the abuse newsgroup or elsewhere does not have any relevance on AOL blocking it. AOL maintains their own block lists based on companies that do not adhere to their policies laid out at http://postmaster.info.aol.com/. They will also whitelist and set up a feedback loop for companies that make the effort.

There are two basic reasons that email doesn't get through to AOL. The first is that they have blacklisted the sender based on user complaints. The second is that the mailing list company and/or the owner is not removing invalid addresses from their list. I don't know exactly how it works right now (AOL seems to continue to modify this), but if there are an excessive number of invalid emails being generated from one source, AOL will just drop additional emails from that source.

NetAtlantic, a larger, more multi-faceted list/email/hosting service
provider, has MANY listings in news.admin.net-abuse.sightings. Yet my
initial tests show no filtering problems when NetAtlantic tries to send
mail to AOL, Yahoo, or Hotmail accounts. This would seem to give the
reports in news.admin.net-abuse.sightings little value as a predictor of
a company's ability to deliver emails without getting filtered.

It's probably a matter of volume. The more email sent from one source, the more likely there are to be people that abuse the service. Most ISPs, when it comes to blocking, are more concerned that mailing list hosting companies are pro-active when it comes to minimizing the possibilities for spam to come their system and reactive in taking action against spammers that slip through the cracks.

I also looked up the two companies in three IP/spammers databases.
EZEzine was listed once in two of the databases and four times in the
other. Ditto for NetAtlantic. Neither was listed in Spamhaus or Spamcop.
So again, I don't see how these tools are useful predictors of whether a
company will be able to deliver the mail.

They really aren't. Many of the smaller blacklists (and some of the larger ones in the past) will list IPs based on one complaint and not remove the offending IP even if action has been taken. Other blacklists will list an entire quadrant (the last set of digits in an IP) because of one spammer.

One of the things to also consider is that listings today are not a predictor of what will happen tomorrow. For instance, there was one decent sized mailing list hosting company that ran a clean ship. They would pre-screen clients and cancel accounts if anyone slipped through the cracks. Literally overnight, they got more lax in their policies. In a matter of a couple of weeks, all of a sudden, their non-spamming clients had difficulty getting mail through to most large ISPs because of this change in policy.

I feel pretty confident with our own pre-screening policies. However, about 18 months ago, we had one spammer slip through the cracks. About 10,000 emails went out before we were able to pull the plug. We ended up having to get the primary IP address changed for that specific server.

Sharon Tucci

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