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Life in Spamistan: 90 Percent of Service Providers Got Blacklisted

TMCnet Feature

December 23, 2013

Life in Spamistan: 90 Percent of Service Providers Got Blacklisted

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By Miguel Leiva-Gomez
TMCnet Contributor

Ever since the early 90’s, spam has been a phenomenon. Messages would endlessly roar their way across several miles of wires just to send advertisements for little blue and red pills. As email providers started toughening up on this sea of spam, spammers started finding new ways around their algorithms. Sometimes, this included commenting on blogs (although software like Akismet helps alleviate this very effectively). Other times, they found much smarter ways around the system, like making the message appear much more legitimate than your typical late-90’s spam.


And so, a nation was born on the internet in which email providers will always be at civil war with spammers, sometimes leaving lots of collateral damage in the wake of their blacklisting frenzies. Welcome to Spamistan.

On December 4th, Commtouch (News - Alert) has demonstrated via a webinar that almost 90 percent of organizations that took its poll have had an IP address of theirs appear on a blacklist in the last 12 months. The most common reason why these organizations suffered the ban hammer's might was for outbound spam. This happens when either a zombie computer starts going on a rogue mission to spam everyone in its contact list, someone within the organization decides it's a good idea to create accounts just to go on a spamorama, or a cyber criminal just waltzes in, hacks a company account, and passes off some spam as legitimate email to some of the addresses in the customer database.

As this poll demonstrates, this kind of thing happens more often than we may think. Of course, a company needs to spend many resources to try and reverse the blacklisting. The best way to stop being blacklisted is to take measures that would prevent such a thing from happening in the first place.

Lior Kohavi, CTO at Commtouch, has some advice: “Traditional approaches, such as blocking port 25 [the SMTP port], reversed inbound spam filters, or throttling, have limitations – and are ineffective in the end because they treat symptoms, but not the underlying problem. Therefore, it is important to protect mail systems with a specialized outbound anti-spam solution that also pinpoints the spamming source. As the common characteristic of all spam is mass distribution, such a solution must be able to detect local and global recurrent patterns.”

As opposed to getting out of Spamistan's gulag, it'd be best to follow Kohavi's advice and tread carefully through the murky waters of the web! 




Edited by Cassandra Tucker


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