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My ISP has been blacklisted

By leopardi in Internet
Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 07:25:53 AM EST
Tags: Help! (Ask Kuro5hin) (all tags)
Help! (Ask Kuro5hin)

What to do if your ISP's mail system is blackholed via mail-abuse.org ? I don't like spammers and don't want to help them, but I do subscribe to mailing lists and can't use them while my ISP is blackholed. And there is no telling who else will bounce my mail until I try. This is not a How-To, since I am learning about all this just now.

What to do if your ISP's mail system is blackholed via mail-abuse.org? This is a good question for me just now. Last night I received a bounced email message telling me that my ISP's (Bigpond's) mail server was blacklisted. I have so far contacted my ISP, mail-abuse.org and SourceForge (the owner of the mailing list) to get a resolution.

My ISP says it is having a hard time contacting mail-abuse.org to get the ban lifted. Perhaps the time zone differences between Australia and the USA don't help. Although my ISP seems to have been the victim of a malicious email spam attack (see the report at http://mail-abuse.org/cgi-bin/nph-rss?query= ) it now looks as if the mail server is no longer an open relay. Yet the blacklist is still in place.

So, what do I do next? Well, I have yet to completely follow up with mail-abuse.org and SourceForge. Susan Tait of the mail-abuse.org MAPS LLC RSS Team has sent me a polite response directing me back to my ISP - but my ISP is finding it hard to contact mail-abuse.org. And my bug report to SourceForge has been assigned to Jacob Moorman. So, maybe something will eventually be done.

I suppose the moral is to make sure your ISP is educated about these things, otherwise some third party out there will blacklist it and deny you full access to the email service you are paying for.


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To your knowledge, has your ISP ever been blacklisted?
o It still is 6%
o Very often 1%
o It was once, but I switched 5%
o Nope 79%
o Yes, but it was resolved 6%

Votes: 59
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Also by leopardi

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My ISP has been blacklisted | 29 comments (28 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
Easy answer (4.10 / 10) (#1)
by localroger on Thu Aug 23, 2001 at 07:18:03 PM EST

Hotmail. Or some other web-based mail service. You don't have to worry about port blocking if you want to check your mail away from home (and you can check from any computer with net access and a browser), and you can change ISP's without your address changing.

I finally moved to Snotmail after the third ISP shift in a row -- the freenet closed down, so I got a dialup account, and then got DSL from a different provider. I have configured the DSL email account I was provided and use it occasionally but for the most part it sits unused. Next time I have to switch ISP's, my email address won't change.

OTOH if I get too upset with MSN I might change even though I stay with Bellsouth for my ISP. There are plenty of other websites offering themed free email accounts. Find one and give it some traffic.

I can haz blog!

Hotmail?!? (4.33 / 3) (#12)
by warpeightbot on Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 11:03:49 AM EST

Oh, for pity's sake, not hotmail. Not in the days of Code Red LXVI and .NET/HailStorm/Passport trying to take over the world...

Yahoo is what I use; it's got the most bells and whistles... but it doesn't do IMAP access, like MailAndNews.com does. Pick your poison, there are lots of them. I do suggest hitting the website with Netcraft to see which webserver they're running... Hey, I don't care if they do run Win2k, it's just a Bad Idea to be running IIS these days. It's also a Bad Idea to give away your info to someone who is known to give a fig for your privacy (something else Yahoo doesn't have a problem with)...

No, I'm not astroturfing Yahoo. I'm just another satisfied customer. We don't exchange money, we don't give each other grief. I like that. </Andy_Rooney>

[ Parent ]

You do NOT want a HotMail account. (2.00 / 1) (#17)
by static on Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 11:01:00 PM EST

Let me list the reasons.

  1. Microsoft own it.
  2. They have millions and millions of customers - give someone else a piece of the pie.
  3. Microsoft run it.
  4. A lot of spam purports to come from HotMail, and even though it might not, people still block email from HotMail.
  5. Microsoft have it.
  6. I know several friends who have had problems with HotMail's "spam filters" and moved on. They are not foolproof and frequently make mistakes.
  7. Microsoft are trying out Passport with HotMail, their next attempt at taking over the 'net.
  8. It runs on IIS.
  9. Did I mention Microsoft control it?


[ Parent ]
I think Hotmail is good... (3.00 / 1) (#23)
by LocalH on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 07:13:59 PM EST

...for me to poop on! Ok, ok, so it's slightly dated...still, I use Hotmail as a spambucket so MS's servers get that nice spammy spam spam spam with baked beans and spam...oh wait, the baked beans are off...

[ Parent ]
You could even get a free POP3 account... (3.00 / 1) (#20)
by jt on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 12:57:19 PM EST

...at some place like gmx.net, which has webmail access too.

[ Parent ]
Problem with all webmail... (none / 0) (#27)
by WWWWolf on Sun Aug 26, 2001 at 08:41:04 AM EST

...is that webmail sucks.

The webmail stuff I've seen have been notoriously slow and incapable, compared to normal SMTP/IMAP stuff.

My father uses two webmail services (for his work and personal use, respectively); and had never used "normal" E-mail. When I sent one message with a real E-mail client, his first comment was "Huh? You sent it already?" =)

Not to even mention the problems with spam filtering and attachments...

-- Weyfour WWWWolf, a lupine technomancer from the cold north...

[ Parent ]
it happened to me. too.. (2.60 / 5) (#3)
by jij on Thu Aug 23, 2001 at 07:27:10 PM EST

..a couple years ago. I wrote an email to the ISP that blocked my ISP's mail relay, pointing out that their customer wanted me to recieve the email, expected me to recieve the email, could care less about MAPS ( or ORBS, forget which) and in fact their ISP was probably in violation of some law or other for refusing to pass the email along to its intended recipient. After some bullshit and a few more emails, their ISP took my ISP off the blacklist. The bad thing about all this is that my ISP had fixed the open relay problem some nine months previous to all this, and the list was at least that far out of date.
moral: complain loudly and politely ( at first ).

"people who thinks quotes are witty are fucking morons" - turmeric

Re: it happened to me. too.. (3.80 / 5) (#4)
by elemental on Thu Aug 23, 2001 at 08:13:59 PM EST

... probably in violation of some law or other for refusing to pass the email along to its intended recipient.

Nope, no law's being violated here. At least in the US, although I have yet to hear of any law remotely like this anywhere else.

Good thing, too. My network (as well as the network of the large ISP I work for) is privately owned. We are not obligated to accept any mail, especially if we have good reason for denying it.

I love my country but I fear my government.
--> Contact info on my web site --

[ Parent ]
I was bluffing (4.00 / 2) (#5)
by jij on Thu Aug 23, 2001 at 08:26:55 PM EST

and it might possibly have helped the other ISP's rep in his decision to reinstate my ISP's mail server. Whatever works, as long as no one is harmed in the process.

"people who thinks quotes are witty are fucking morons" - turmeric
[ Parent ]

Your ISP is lying. (4.25 / 8) (#6)
by seebs on Thu Aug 23, 2001 at 09:21:16 PM EST

Bigpond has been willfully hosting spammers for *years*. They have made no significant effort to resolve this.

As someone whose spam complaints have been ignored many times, well, I feel bad for you, but I have to say, Bigpond has worked hard to get that listing.

Do you complain to them? (4.00 / 2) (#16)
by static on Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 10:52:33 PM EST

I know it's usually a pain in the arse to do it repeatedly, but if people don't complain about people abusing the terms of usage then they won't be interested in dealing with it.

I've seen a spammer kicked off their ISP, probably from complaints from the likes of me :-)


[ Parent ]
Not much point, in this case, but yes... (5.00 / 1) (#25)
by seebs on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 11:44:15 PM EST

Yes. If I hadn't complained to them, I wouldn't have seen their various spam-friendly policies, such as their statement that they will not stop hosting a web site just because someone spams to advertise it.

[ Parent ]
Making progress (4.50 / 6) (#7)
by leopardi on Thu Aug 23, 2001 at 10:30:59 PM EST

An update. Susan Tait - a real person, not an autoresponder - got back to me to say that Bigpond had been in touch:

"Yes, I have been in contact with Bigpond, and I believe we have resolved all of the issues withing the last couple of hours. It may take up to a day for the changes to propogate out across the internet, but I have removed all the IP's that were submitted by Bigpond staff, as they are now secured."

You don't pay for me to accept your mail (4.50 / 8) (#8)
by finite automaton on Thu Aug 23, 2001 at 11:30:28 PM EST

I suppose the moral is to make sure your ISP is educated about these things, otherwise some third party out there will blacklist it and deny you full access to the email service you are paying for.
Actually, the only thing you are paying for is for your ISP to accept the email. There is no gauruntee that they will be able to deliver it. There is no amount of money you could pay your ISP that would force me to accept your email. My sever, my rules.

That having been said, I believe that the problems you are having are the only way that a large ISP can be forced to run a responsible mail service. If the people paying them money start complaining, them maybe they will start to listen to complaints. In this day rampent spammers, no ISP should be allowed to get away with running a wide open relay. Shunning them and their mail servers is both a way to get them to change the way they behave and a way to protect our systems from the spammers abusing their incompetance.

As for what you can do about this. You have already taken the first step. Complain to them and convince your ISP to run a responsible mail service. The other thing you can do is vote with your wallet. Find an ISP that is not running open realys (or get a hotmail/yahoo account).

You are doing your ISP's work for them ... (3.60 / 5) (#9)
by joegee on Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 12:42:01 AM EST

stop giving them your help for free. By your statements in your article it sounds like you did most of the groundwork for these people. That is nice of you, but you are doing them a favor that is not likely to be repaid.

In addition, if you have choices, strongly consider switching ISP's. If these people can be cavalier about losing the several hunded provider partners that use the RBL directly for filtering spammers, then chances are pretty good they are not taking their customers' concerns seriously enough and you as a power user would probably would be better served elsewhere.

My AUD five cents. :)

-Joe G.

P.S. My reason for giving this a 0 vote is due to your additional comment below regarding what appears to be the resolution of the incident that prompted your article. It's not that I felt your article should be voted down, but I could not justify giving it a +1 when the topic it discusses no longer pertains.

<sig>I always learn something on K5, sometimes in spite of myself.</sig>
Vote with your feet (4.25 / 8) (#10)
by loaf on Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 05:04:53 AM EST

  1. Register your own domain
  2. Point that domain's mail to your ISP account
  3. Tell everyone to send mail to you@your_domain
  4. Your ISP annoys you? Go somewhere else, you only have to re-direct your domain.

You are doing your ISP's job, if you're happy doing that, fine - otherwise go look around for an ISP with built-in clues, they are out there.

Sure, but... (3.00 / 2) (#13)
by Big Dave Diode on Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 11:09:37 AM EST

This will work fine unless the organisation hosting your domain gets blackholed too :-). I suppose you could colocate your own mailserver, but thats costs more and you still have the potential of being included in an address block that has been blackholed. On the other hand, most hosting providers are considerably more clueful than the average ISP about things like leaving open mail relays.

The only way to REALLY be sure is to somehow get assigned your own block of addresses and host your domain there.

[ Parent ]
Lies, Damn Lies, and Spam (4.42 / 7) (#11)
by darthaggie on Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 09:44:03 AM EST

Susan Tait of the mail-abuse.org MAPS LLC RSS Team has sent me a polite response directing me back to my ISP - but my ISP is finding it hard to contact mail-abuse.org.

Don't you find it a bit odd that you can make contact with the MAPS team, but your ISP claims it is difficult?

Typical behaviour of spamhausen - deny, lie, obsfucate, deny. When in doubt, deny. Blame MAPS. Deny. Admit an incident, but promise to "clean it up" Real Soon, Now.

Put the screws to your ISP. Look for a reliable replacement if they decide that their spammer is a "better" customer than you.

I am BOFH. Resistance is futile. Your network will be assimilated.

OT nitpick (none / 0) (#26)
by zztzed on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 11:48:03 PM EST

The plural of "spamhaus" would actually be "spamhäuser"...

[ Parent ]
My ISP is K-Line'd (5.00 / 1) (#14)
by K5er 16877 on Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 03:31:57 PM EST

For those of your IRC'ers out there, my ISP (pacbell.net) is K-Line'd on several of the dalnet servers. Basically, that means any connection attempt from the pacbell.net domain is blocked. This has caused no end of annoyances for me.

First I emailed the various dalnet servers and they said that pacbell.net is the source of many winsock proxies (banned by most dalnet servers). Very similar to an open email gateway. They said contact my ISP.

I email my ISP. Pacific Bell is a huge, no, HUGE telephone utility company on the west coast US. I split a DSL line from them with my neighbor (shhhhhh!). They respond back with an automated email saying that someone will look into the matter. That's it. I could push them further, but I doubt that I will change their policy.

As for voting with my money, hah! In this area, DSL runs about $50 / month. That's assuming the hookup will work. I have my own DSL horror stories. I've tried their competitors. Pacbell is the only one that just worked. Since my computer doesn't like modems (long story), I'm stuck with Pacbell. For $20 / month, I'm willing to live with being kicked off about half of the dalnet servers.

Again, vote with your feet... (4.00 / 1) (#19)
by warpeightbot on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 11:14:47 AM EST

For those of your IRC'ers out there, my ISP (pacbell.net) is K-Line'd on several of the dalnet servers. Basically, that means any connection attempt from the pacbell.net domain is blocked. This has caused no end of annoyances for me.
Time to get yourself a remote shell account. Just googlesearch for "shell account" and you'll find dozens.... although personally I like Speakeasy's RainMail (which, while ostensibly set up for Seattle-local cybercafes, is too easy to get to via ssh (you're not using telnet, are you?), and they're totally cool with that.... they won't let you run a bot off it, so if you're into such things, you'd have to find someplace else. (There are those that will, I saw them in the GoogleSearch; I can't vouch for them, though.)

puTTY, a free (gratis: MIT) Windows SSH client (if you have need of such a thing)
OpenSSH, if you're on something Unix-ish
Nifty Telnet SSH is for pre-OS/X Macs (OS/X comes with OpenSSH, but you'll want to upgrade it).

Y'know, they really ought to just outlaw POTS companies from getting into the ISP business. I've only ever heard of one (CenturyTel in Eastern Washington) being worth a tinker's damn once they started trying to flip bits for a living. The rest have all been anywhere from mediocre to outright abysmal, and Pac*Bell (referenced above) has been one of the worst.

[ Parent ]

CenturyTel (none / 0) (#21)
by breser on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 02:51:18 PM EST

FYI CenturyTel isn't just in Eastern Washington, they're in the Puget Sound area as well. That of course is not to mention that they're a nationwide company serving mostly rural areas. Based out of Monroe, Loiusiana.

[ Parent ]
KLine (4.00 / 1) (#22)
by breser on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 02:58:36 PM EST

How about reading the dal.net information page on these K-Lines. That's who you need to talk to about this problem. There is a list of ISPs that are blocked for the problem you've reported, but if you run identd you are allowed on. While pacbell.net isn't on the list, I'm suprised they aren't handling it as only a non-ident block.

[ Parent ]
Blackholed? (4.00 / 1) (#15)
by Kasreyn on Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 03:55:29 PM EST

Sounds great to me? What's the problem? =P

I've certainly gotten enough spam from Bigpond addresses that I'm personally quite glad to hear it's been blackholed. Less spam for me, yay! Especially the "penis enlargement" spams, I get more of them from Bigpond than any of the other ISP's that spammers regularly spam me from. Hate those ones; it's like insult and injury - they waste my time, junk up my inbox, AND manage to insult my manhood, all in ONE email! Now that's efficiency. =P

So, I think this is good, that it's blackholed. May it stay there forever, or until they learn. This being the case, I recommend you find a new ISP, one that doesn't pander to spammers.

On the subject of lifting bans, I think one needs to prove to the MAPS folks that the ISP has seriously reformed and will play nice in the future. Every once in a while they lift a ban and an ISP goes right back to letting spam through, and they get burned.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Problem (none / 0) (#29)
by redcliffe on Fri Sep 07, 2001 at 07:44:01 AM EST

The problem with this, is that in most areas of Australia, Big Pond is the only ISP providing Broadband internet. I emailed the postmaster instructions to fix the problem, if they were using sendmail. David

[ Parent ]
BigPong may be the worst broadband ISP on Earth (4.00 / 2) (#18)
by aardvarkHater on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 07:17:46 AM EST

Unfortunately, in Australia it isn't so easy to change ISP's if you want high speed Internet access. I live in Adelaide, South Australia and if I want broadband I have no choice but to choose BigPong. The reason is that they are a monopoly in this country. Where I live I have a choice of BigPong cable or BigPong ADSL or of course my choice of many dial up ISPs. I couldn't bear to have dial up again so it has to be BigPong for me. Now I have rung them about this relay problem on many occassions and it has been explained to me (and to one other BP subscriber) that the problem is that some subscribers NEED to run open mail relays as they have employees out on the road who have to send email from wherever they are. That is a blatant lie and is typical of Telstra to blame their customers for their own useless system administrators and sub standard network (lets not open that particular kettle of rancid old fish). If you follow this link it quite obviously shows a Telstra mail server that has been detected as an open relay. Telstra told me last week that this machine is operated by one of their business plan customers. Again another lie from Telstra to a customer. I pay $75 for my cable access and it is advertised as an unlimited and world class service. Well this unlimited service has a 512kbps/128kbps speed limit and has also recently been capped at 3gb maximum monthly usage. This is a BigPong Gigabyte (of course) which is 3000 megabytes and not 3 * (1024 * 1024mb) as most net-savvy people would automatically assume. Then again that sort of crap is part of their world class service. It surely must come as no surprise that people call them BigPong and the 'help desk' the 'hell desk'. I have rung them regarding problems with the service and upon finding out I use linux they wouldn't even tell me if the mail server was up or down as 'I have an unsupported operating system' and I had to rely on posts from other subscribers in a newsgroup to find out the answer to this question. It's very doubtful that I will be able to get a decent broadband service in the next few years as Telstra (BigPong parent company and Australia's largest telco) actually own the wires and so set the wholesale fee to BigPong's ADSL competitors so high that competition is for all nigh but impossible. Sorry about whinging but I cannot help myself but at least this answers to some extent the people that say change ISP (it's not that easy)!

Check your settings. (none / 0) (#28)
by supine on Sun Aug 26, 2001 at 08:42:55 AM EST

I am also a customer of Bigpuddle's broad*cough*band service (ADSL though, not cable). You can call their help desk and tell them that there is 100% packet loss at their gateway router (they route all traffic from the state of NSW via Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, some 1000km or so away) and they reply "Check your settings". WTF?!?

Their response to every problem report is "Check your settings". It is obvious that the "tech support" have no understanding of the network or its possible faults (and the related symptoms). With "support" like that, who needs enemies?

I am not surprised you struggled to get assistance with something even remotely out of the ordinary.


"No GUI for you! Use lynx!!!, Come back, One year!" -- /avant
[ Parent ]
My ISP has been blacklisted | 29 comments (28 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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