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Can I get my IP unblocked or removed a black list?

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 3:15 pm    Post subject: Can I get my IP unblocked or removed a black list? Reply with quote

Question Asked by Andy Wurst of JJR Consulting

I operate a vqSA email security service. I have loaded my appliance with the trusted IP addresses of customer mail servers (so that they can benefit from auto-whitelisting, trust bonds, SmartSubject, etc.) I recently removed the IP of a new customer who had an infected PC. He sent spam and got my IP address listed with several reputation black lists. Additionally, my other senders are blocked by recipients with Barracuda antispam appliances. Is there anything I can do to get off of these lists?

Get your IP removed from Black Lists

First and foremost, determine if you have a spammer or bulk sender and cut him off - or at least redirect his outgoing mail away from your vqSA. We can help you determine which sender or domain was responsible. That customer can use his own mail server or ISP. Never mix the IP of an email security service with the sending of bulk mail - even if legimate.

Next, determine which black lists or ISPs are blocking your mail, the duration of their scarlet letter, and if they offer amnesty when contacted by the postamster. Let's consider each of these issues...

To view a real-time snapshot of your own reputation across many black lists at once, type ypur IP address into the spam database field at DNS Stuff or MX Logic. Scan the list for entries in RED.

Many ISPs and black lists will "age" an IP address for 48 or 72 hours and then begin accepting mail again, sometimes allowing a reduced number of messages at first. Other black lists, like SORBS, will block it for 3 weeks or more and even black list an entire range of IP addresses - even if you don't control the other addresses. They do this to exert pressure on the webmaster or hosting data center to take quick action and shut down a spammer. [Read our opinion about this methodology]

Finally, many ISPs and black lists will allow an individual with a provable address (it must be "postmaster" or "abuse") to request a 1-time immediate removal from the list. (Some, like Backscatter, charge for the service. We think that this smacks of extortion...No surprise that they list the IP address for 3 months!). But requesting instant removal is a dual-edge sword. If you use your 1-time request, the black list may do the following:
  • Never (or rarely) accept another request from your domain or IP
  • Punish you a lot more severely than other senders, if your server is responsible for bulk mail in the future - for whatever period they deem fit!
  • They may even punish your entire ISP range and the upstream provider if you are responsible for a bulk mailing after you have used the 1-time free pass.
Clearly, the ownership of a mail server has very onerous community "rules". They are all written and enforced at the whim of each black list owner. Unlike a credit report, this reputation community is not at all subject to government regulations. However, they risk losing the trust of their subscribers if they become overzealous in listing innocent victims.

You also asked specifically about the Barracuda antispam appliance. I recommend contacting that company to determine if they offer a "removal request" service, or if they simply "age" the domain. You might ask if the reputation-block is local to one appliance (where the spam arrived) or if they report, correlate and push the reputation data to all of their boxes.

Related Tip: How we deal with SORBS blacklist
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