View Poll Results: Does anti spam go to far today ?

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  • Yes, the hosting industry should join forces and do something against the anti spam fundamentalists

    13 48.15%
  • Yes, but unfortunately there is nothing you can do against these guys

    8 29.63%
  • No, spam must be prevented at any cost - who cares about some hosts losing their business if it keeps my mailbox clean

    3 11.11%
  • No, spam protection doesn`t go far enough: Death to all spammers !! Block the whole web !! The bible says: Thou shalt not spam !

    3 11.11%
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  1. #1
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    Do anti spam blacklists go too far nowadays ?

    I just got blacklisted because someone sending spam promoted a site that redirected to a site that loaded content from a site on my server. With things like that and Spews blocking whole DCs as well as Sorbs charging ISPs a penalty to get unlisted - although the ISPs usually do not have a chance to prevent occasional abuse by spammers I am asking myself if this doesn`t go way too far.

    Spamhaus openly talking about "collateral damage" reminds me quite a bit of Timothy McVeigh's Oklahoma City bombing. Actually the anti spam movement pretty much begins to act like terrorists: Just block a whole server, a whole IP range or even a whole datacenter and the innocent victims will put pressure on the DC to act against a spammer, even if it costs them an arm and a leg for example if they have a yearly contract with someone who's mass mailings are legal but are considered and reported as spam by some recipients. The DC can't really kick that customer because they have a contract and legal mass mailings may not necessarily be against their TOS. However, the blacklists still force them to do something. That can create a horrible situation for a DC and I really wonder if spam is so annoying that blocking it justifies that companys are put out of business and people are losing their jobs ? Remember, I am NOT talking about the spammers here but DCs and hosting companies who often can`t just kick someone because his friend knows someone who's cousin`s dog sends spam.

    What do you think ? Is anti spam going too far today.

  2. #2
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    It's not like once you get on a list you can't get off it again.

    TBH if spam lists were effective I wouldn't get any spam, which despite using blacklists and Microsofts IMF addon for exchange, I still do.

    Dan

  3. #3
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    >It's not like once you get on a list you can't get off it again.

    This may be true for Spamcop and some other lists but if you are on Spews you can hardly get whitelisted without kissing their balls.

  4. #4
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    How about this idea: We make a community that deals with unjustified spam blacklistings. Anyone can submit a report about his site beeing blacklisted for no reason, then the community can vote whether they agree that this listing should be whitelisted. If at least XX% aggree that it should be whitelisted the report becomes available to the public and each community member is beeing asked to send a complaint to the blacklist in charge (the system would be designed in a way that only the most severe issues get listed so the community does not get too many reports). Wouldn`t it be funny to receive 10.000 complaints about every unjustified blacklisting ?? Maybe this would make them more sensitive towards "collateral damage".

  5. #5
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    From what I understand most of these blacklists were started by spammers to extract money from other spammers... and to control their flow of emails. The blacklists simply do not work in all cases, and Im yet to see any decrease in spam by using these lists.

  6. #6
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    I just had a domain blacklisted. I bought the domain a week or so ago, and I don't know if it's been owned before. (I got the impression it hadn't--the .net .org, etc. extensions have never been owned.) I am not all that concerned right now (I hadn't planned on developing the domain for a while) but it's still upsetting, as I've done nothing. What hoops am I going to have to jump through in order to get off this list?

    I am completely ignorant of this blacklist thing, I confess, since I've never had to deal with it before. I only found out about it because I was looking up the status of all my domains in whois.sc and saw the "blacklisted" title on one of them.

    I'm pretty squeaky-clean. I barely ever use email addresses with my domains ([email protected]), let alone spam anyone! How exactly does this happen?

  7. #7
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    >How exactly does this happen?

    Maybe someone sent spam promoting a site that redirected to a site that loads content from another site on the same server as yours. That is why my customers are blacklisted now. Imagine that. You are blacklisted because anyone on the world promoted a site that redirected to another site that loaded content from yet another site on the same server that is also hosting your site. That is ******** !

  8. #8
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    That is BS. And as I said, I got the impression that this domain had never been registered before (though I am not sure). I registered and parked it--never published anything on it. This is bizarre.

  9. #9
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    One thing that I find very disturbing is the fact that blocking an IP that is hosting a spammer but not actually sending spam has the one and ONLY effect to put pressure on a host. It does not block a single spam mail because the spammer uses a remote IP to send spam. Therefore the ONLY effect of blocking an IP address that does only host a spammer is to harm innocent people in order to get the host to suspend the spammers site.

    I know that spammers can`t be stopped without the spammers site beeing suspended and I think that hosts should work with blacklists to remove such sites. However, it is NOT acceptable to block an IP knowing that it will ONLY block LEGITIMATE emails and not a single spam email just in order to put the host under pressure to remove the entry. I think spam lists should only block IPs that are actually sending spam because that is what blacklists are for: To filter spam out. Not to filter legitimate email in order to put someone under pressure. This is NOT an acceptable way to take care of this.

  10. #10
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    It's bad that attempts to stop spam are so often misdirected. However, at the same time it seems like the principals who hire the spammers and the unscrupulous ISP's who aid and abet the principals are too insulated from consequence. The pop-up in the pop-up in the spamvertised site in the spam might look to be "too far removed' from the spammer to be found legally culpable. And yet that is where the money is generated that hires the agent that hires the agent that sends the spam. There is a legal principal qui facit per alium facit per se (who acts through another acts himself), but it is poorly enforced. Meanwhile "respectable" ISP's like Abovenet and Level3 are selling bulletproof hosting to the principal offenders as long as they maintain at least two levels of agency separation between their hosted sites and the spam.
    However, even if the politicians could look past the money from the unscrupulous hosts, there is an enforcement problem distinguishing the true principals who hire spammers from numerous joe-jobs. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the sociopaths who do joe-jobs get a subsidy from porn-spammers who care nothing about the particular targets, but want to maintain that kind of enforcement problem.

  11. #11
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    i think the anti-spam thing has always been ridiculous and hardly reserved only for REAL spammers.

    they will punish the host expecting the HOST to do something.

    but you know what? it isnt the hosts job, its the governments job. when the hell did i become the spam police? im not!
    if you haven't considered chapter 7 bankruptcy, maybe you should.
    eliminate your debt, keep the property you want, most people qualify.
    contrary to popular belief - no attorney is necessary!

  12. #12
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    Say you own a store and someone is abusing your clients. Is it your job to stop them or is it the government's job?

    Hosts need to take some responsibility in this too.

    And yes, Anti-Spam methods go too far.

  13. #13
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    Originally posted by thomas.smith
    >It's not like once you get on a list you can't get off it again.

    This may be true for Spamcop and some other lists but if you are on Spews you can hardly get whitelisted without kissing their balls.
    Spews isn't a very professional blacklist, and I don't use it.

    There are expensive solutions out there from companies such as MessageLabs and AppRiver that I have tested. Both of which didn't let through a single SPAM e-mail, or incorrectly identify a message as SPAM for the entire time I was using it.

    If you've got the budget, buy it, they're very effective solutions.

    Dan

  14. #14
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    Originally posted by LaurenStephens.com
    i think the anti-spam thing has always been ridiculous and hardly reserved only for REAL spammers.

    they will punish the host expecting the HOST to do something.

    but you know what? it isnt the hosts job, its the governments job. when the hell did i become the spam police? im not!
    Absolutely right ! It is amazing to see that most people agree that it goes too far.

    Only the offending mailservers should be blocked because only these mailservers are sending spam and blacklists are there to reduce spam but if you block a mailserver that does NOT send spam to put pressure on someone it does NOT block spam but only legitimate emails. This is the concept of terrorism and it also leads to a lot of problem. It makes joe jobbing easy because the spammer does not even need access to your mailserver in order to get you blocked. It is enough to promote a site that is redirecting to a site that loads content from your server and that is just ridiculous.
    Last edited by thomas.smith; 04-17-2005 at 09:23 PM.

  15. #15
    Originally posted by case
    From what I understand most of these blacklists were started by spammers to extract money from other spammers
    I can with certainty say that is not true...at least with your everyday-spammer(no, I'm not a spammer as much as you'd like me to be one).

    Now if we are to believe in conspiracy theories that Microsoft has a hand in blocking aol's ip or viceversa, there's no end to it.

  16. #16
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    Originally posted by thomas.smith
    >How exactly does this happen?

    Maybe someone sent spam promoting a site that redirected to a site that loads content from another site on the same server as yours. That is why my customers are blacklisted now. Imagine that. You are blacklisted because anyone on the world promoted a site that redirected to another site that loaded content from yet another site on the same server that is also hosting your site. That is ******** !
    That happens because the lazy way to fight spammers is to automate it, and it automatically hits the wrong targets. The idea of going after the principals is sound, but it takes some intelligent discretion to distinguish the principal offenders and accomplices from victims of joe-jobs. Not enough is being put into that, and the joe-jobs create so much collateral damage in the automated anti-spam systems that they get discredited. As a result many will be abandoned, because it's too much trouble to make them smarter.

  17. #17
    Anti-spam is like consumers getting viruses due to their lack of knowledge....and NO software will EVER provide fool-proof solution or for that matter anything even closer.

    The easiest thing if you have a Spam'd Mailbox is to give it up and create a new email that you DON'T GO SHARING openly. Use another email address when you give it out for subscriptions etc....if you do this, after a year or so, the spam on your FIRST email account that you gave up will likely reduce significantly because spammers, as they gain more and more advanced tools, scrub their lists for invalid addresses.

  18. #18
    Yes, I think it spam prevention is going a little overboard. Pretty soon, a lot of hosting companies are going to be blacklisted for no reason

  19. #19
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    Originally posted by LaurenStephens.com
    i think the anti-spam thing has always been ridiculous and hardly reserved only for REAL spammers.

    they will punish the host expecting the HOST to do something.

    but you know what? it isnt the hosts job, its the governments job. when the hell did i become the spam police? im not!
    Oh, stop it. As hosts, we have a responsibility to the rest of the internet to ensure that our clients aren't abusing the resources of others. If you can't/won't run a clean service, why should anyone willingly accept your traffic?

    -B

  20. #20
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    >Oh, stop it. As hosts, we have a responsibility to the rest of the
    >internet to ensure that our clients aren't abusing the resources
    >of others. If you can't/won't run a clean service, why should
    >anyone willingly accept your traffic?

    If they are sending spam ok. However, if they are just hosting a site with you and no emails are coming from your mailserver what gives them the right to block my mailserver while ONLY LEGITIMATE emails are comming from it. They can contact me and ask me to remove the spammer but they can not just block my mailserver in order to force me to listen to them. That is terrorism.

  21. #21
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    Originally posted by Disgruntled
    That happens because the lazy way to fight spammers is to automate it, and it automatically hits the wrong targets.
    You can't automate this type of thing and expect it to work properly. Any blacklist isn't vigorously, accurately, and manually maintained in a timely manor is worthless. That said, relatively few blacklists are automated. More often, I think you'll find that the ones with the outdated or just-plain-inaccurate listings are just poorly maintained and/or implemented. Whether that was the case wrt the thread starter, I couldn't say without considerably more information than he's given us thus far.

    The idea of going after the principals is sound, but it takes some intelligent discretion to distinguish the principal offenders and accomplices from victims of joe-jobs.
    Very true. A big problem in this regard is that 'intelligent discretion' is something that relatively few people are capable of among both hosts and blocklist maintainers. Out of all the available blocklists out there, there are maybe five that I'd trust in this regard.

    -b

  22. #22
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    Originally posted by thomas.smith

    If they are sending spam ok. However, if they are just hosting a site with you and no emails are coming from your mailserver what gives them the right to block my mailserver while ONLY LEGITIMATE emails are comming from it. They can contact me and ask me to remove the spammer but they can not just block my mailserver in order to force me to listen to them. That is terrorism.
    If the law were not so badly written as to create an exemption, the hosting company of the spamvertised site would be prosecuted as an accessory.

  23. #23
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    Originally posted by thomas.smith
    If they are sending spam ok. However, if they are just hosting a site with you and no emails are coming from your mailserver what gives them the right to block my mailserver while ONLY LEGITIMATE emails are comming from it.
    Generally speaking, blocklists will list any entity associated with a spam run. If your server is being used to provide content, and it has been accurately (and I stress 'accurately') determined that you are not the victim of a joe-job, your machine is a legitimate target for the blocklist maintainers. It sucks, I know, I've been there myself, but I support it nonetheless because if a particular spam run is to be stopped, it needs to be stopped at both ends - the spamming server and the target site/content.

    They can contact me and ask me to remove the spammer
    Maybe you're a decent person who would act immediately to shut the spammer down. Many aren't. I agree that on the surface many of the methods employed by the blocklists maintainers seem heavy-handed, but they are methods that evolved over time due to unresponsive, and often black-hat providers. I've said it a million times and I'll say it again - there's a tremendous amount of history here.

    but they can not just block my mailserver in order to force me to listen to them.
    Nobody's blocking you from sending mail, and nobody's forcing you to listen. People who utilize whatever blocklist you're listed on have chosen not to receive mail from your system. That is their right - to allow or disallow access their machines to or from whomever they choose.

    That is terrorism.
    I'm sure it seems that way right now because you're upset, but nothing can be further from the truth.

    -b

  24. #24
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    If the spammer sends illegal spam and you are aware of it you have to kick him. Howerver, if you are not aware of it you do not have to do anything and what you are saying has nothing to do with the point I was talking about: Blocking an innocent mailserver to put pressure on someone is not acceptable. They should at least contact the host first in such cases. That is the minimum they can do.

  25. #25
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    Re: Do anti spam blacklists go too far nowadays ?

    Originally posted by thomas.smith
    Spamhaus openly talking about "collateral damage"....
    Cite, please, with a link.

    -b

  26. #26
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    >It sucks, I know, I've been there myself, but I support it
    >nonetheless because if a particular spam run is to be stopped, it
    >needs to be stopped at both ends - the spamming server and
    >the target site/content.

    Ok I agree. But what is the point of blocking a mailserver that is only sending legitimate emails other than to put pressure on someone ??

    >Maybe you're a decent person who would act immediately to
    >shut the spammer down. Many aren't.

    I simply can`t accept the idea of collateral damage. Collateral damage is NOT ACCEPTABLE. NEVER !

    >Nobody's blocking you from sending mail, and nobody's forcing
    >you to listen. People who utilize whatever blocklist you're listed
    >on have chosen not to receive mail from your system. That is
    >their right - to allow or disallow access their machines to or from
    >whomever they choose.

    Sure they do force me because if I stay on a blacklist my DC is gonna kick my ***. If you do not consider that force it is like saying "if somebody wants your money and threatens you with a gun it is not force because I am free to let them shoot me".

    >I'm sure it seems that way right now because you're upset, but
    >nothing can be further from the truth.

    Terrorism means harming innocent people in order to force a greater instance to act in a way that the terrorist likes. Now if someone blacklists my mailserver although there is NO SPAM coming from this mailserver they are doing nothing but to harm innocent people in order to get the company to act in a way they like. It is EXACTLY the same. If a mass mailing is NOT illegal but still considered spam by some blacklist than they shouldn`t force me into blocking that site because of their believes. They should contact me and kindly ask me to remove the site + block the mailserver.

  27. #27
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    Re: Re: Do anti spam blacklists go too far nowadays ?

    Originally posted by TMX
    Cite, please, with a link.

    -b
    "In order to terminate some persistent spam operations the SBL team occasionally needs to escalate a listing and it is in the application of an escalation that 'collateral damage' can occur."

    http://www.spamhaus.org/sbl/sbl-faqs.lasso

  28. #28
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    Originally posted by TMX
    Oh, stop it. As hosts, we have a responsibility to the rest of the internet to ensure that our clients aren't abusing the resources of others. If you can't/won't run a clean service, why should anyone willingly accept your traffic?

    -B
    i am running a clean service

    if more people read the entire can-spam act and the LEGAL definition of SPAM, youll see that probably about 85% of spam complaints are not even really "spam", they are simply UNWANTED emails or emails that people forgot they subscribed to.

    who is going to pay ME to do their work for them?

    i am definitely PRO-email marketing but for sure NOT pro-spam
    if you haven't considered chapter 7 bankruptcy, maybe you should.
    eliminate your debt, keep the property you want, most people qualify.
    contrary to popular belief - no attorney is necessary!

  29. #29
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    Originally posted by thomas.smith
    If the spammer sends illegal spam and you are aware of it you have to kick him.
    This isn't really a question of legality.

    Howerver, if you are not aware of it you do not have to do anything
    That's entirely up to you. Still doesn't require me or anyone else to accept your traffic.

    and what you are saying has nothing to do with the point I was talking about:Blocking an innocent mailserver to put pressure on someone is not acceptable. They should at least contact the host first in such cases. That is the minimum they can do.
    It has everything to do with your point:

    Maybe you're a decent person who would act immediately to shut the spammer down. Many aren't. I agree that on the surface many of the methods employed by the blocklists maintainers seem heavy-handed, but they are methods that evolved over time due to unresponsive, and often black-hat providers. I've said it a million times and I'll say it again - there's a tremendous amount of history here.
    Being 'nice' about it and contacting the host has been tried and simply does not work. Listing the spam-supporting host's mail server has a way of getting their attention that other methods do not.

    I will say though that contacting a host upon their listing would be an entirely reasonable compromise.

    -b

  30. #30
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    It would be at least more acceptable if they would contact you 24 hours before they block you and then if you do not respond you get listed.

    @LaurenStephens:

    I agree 100%

  31. #31
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    One time I had a customer who had a free site where if you subscribe you would get one email sent to you promoting his stuff. A few people complained. SpamCop had 1 complaint per month. However, Spamhaus did block this site so I had to kick him. It was a total disaster and extremely difficult for me to explain to that customer that I had to suspend his account although his emails were can spam act compliant. So I have a contract and I need to break this contract just because I am beeing forced to. I could live with a Spamhaus block but not with the DC suspending my server because of the SpamHaus entry.

  32. #32
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    Originally posted by LaurenStephens.com
    i am running a clean service
    I know you are. The 'you' was general, not personal. Sorry.

    if more people read the entire can-spam act and the LEGAL definition of SPAM, youll see that probably about 85% of spam complaints are not even really "spam", they are simply UNWANTED emails or emails that people forgot they subscribed to.
    At least we've identified the problem - If you are using the can-spam act (or more accurately, 'you-can-spam' act) as your guideline as to what does and does not constitute spam, it's no wonder you're pissed. Can-spam is crap - a watered-down toothless piece of feel-good legislation pushed and supported by the DMA (the Direct Marketing Association). Can-spam specifically legalizes opt-out spam, but does nothing to ensure that the recipient actually requested the junk that crams their inbox every day. A provision mandating confirmed opt-in was considered, but the DMA wouldn't have it.

    Unfortunately, the DMA is well-established and well-funded, and as you know, money talks loudly when a new piece of legislation is on the table.

    who is going to pay ME to do their work for them?
    I'm not sure how you mean that. Who's going to pay you to keep the spammers off your system?

    i am definitely PRO-email marketing but for sure NOT pro-spam
    Done properly, there's absolutely nothing wrong with email marketing.

    -B

  33. #33
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    I am just having an awesome idea: Let's make a listing of all the Spews and Sorbs etc. spider IPs. Then hosts can download this list and block access to their entire network on all ports. That means that the spiders will see the sites as offline and will not blacklist the IP or at least they will have difficulties to work. This will put the pressure right back on THEM and we will force them to listen to us like they usually do.
    Sure, they can still use dial up connections etc. but at least their spiders will have a problem and it will make things difficult for them.

    Once they stop acting freaky we will whitelist their IPs.

    What do you think about that ?

  34. #34
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    >Can-spam is crap - a watered-down toothless piece of feel-good
    >legislation

    The thing is: Can spam defines what is spam. If it is not spam it might be annoying as hell but it is up to each host to decide whether they want to host such sites and people who have different views should not terrorize us in order to enforce their opinions.

  35. #35
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    Originally posted by thomas.smith
    I am just having an awesome idea: Let's make a listing of all the Spews and Sorbs etc. spider IPs. Then hosts can download this list and block access to their entire network on all ports. That means that the spiders will see the sites as offline and will not blacklist the IP or at least they will have difficulties to work. This will put the pressure right back on THEM and we will force them to listen to us like they usually do.
    Sure, they can still use dial up connections etc. but at least their spiders will have a problem and it will make things difficult for them.

    Once they stop acting freaky we will whitelist their IPs.

    What do you think about that ?
    i didnt know they spider??

    good idea!
    if you haven't considered chapter 7 bankruptcy, maybe you should.
    eliminate your debt, keep the property you want, most people qualify.
    contrary to popular belief - no attorney is necessary!

  36. #36
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    Re: Re: Re: Do anti spam blacklists go too far nowadays ?

    Originally posted by thomas.smith
    "In order to terminate some persistent spam operations the SBL team occasionally needs to escalate a listing and it is in the application of an escalation that 'collateral damage' can occur."

    http://www.spamhaus.org/sbl/sbl-faqs.lasso
    OK, now here's the whole thing, without the selective quoting and in full context:

    Can the SBL block legitimate email?

    The SBL's primary objective is to avoid 'false positives' while blocking as much spam as possible. Indeed because SBL false positives are extremely rare, there is little visible controversy regarding the SBL yet we are one of the Internet's biggest spam blocking systems.

    It is important to note that, unlike most commercial ISP-level spam filter solutions, the SBL does not "absorb and trash" incoming email - instead it has a vital delivery fail-safe mechanism: By design, no matter how rare they may be, any false positive rejected by mail servers using the SBL follows correct RFC mail delivery proceedure and is returned (bounced) to the immediate Sender with the explaination of why the message could not be not delivered and what the Sender should do about it.

    However, like any system used to filter email, the SBL has the potential to block items of legitimate email if for example they are sent from an IP under the control of a spammer or via IPs belonging to a Spam Service. The chances of any legitimate email coming from such IPs are very slim, but need to be acknowledged.

    In order to terminate some persistent spam operations the SBL team occasionally needs to escalate a listing and it is in the application of an escalation that 'collateral damage' can occur. Once a known spam operation is blocked, the SBL team then attempts to open dialogue with the ISP providing service to the spammer and assists the ISP with collating evidence to terminate the spammer. In rare instances the ISP turns out to be knowingly assisting the spam operation for profit. In these cases the SBL Team may deem the ISP itself to be the 'Spam Support Service' and may escalate by listing the ISPs corporate resources (such as corporate mail servers), determined on a case-by-case basis to focus action on the ISPs executives and always with the primary objective of avoiding blocking legitimate customers.
    Spamhaus does not endorse the collateral damage method of blocklsting in normal operations.

    -B

  37. #37
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    There is no way of blocking an IP WITHOUT causing collateral damage !! If I block an IP with 300 sites on it then 299 on it are likely to be innocent and that is collateral damage.

  38. #38
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    >i didnt know they spider??

    We would have to find out how they do it but that should be possible. Every time you have a spammer have a look at the log files and compare the results etc. It should be possible. If they do use spiders (and I guess they do because blocking a site that has already been suspended doesn`t make sense) it should be possible to trick their spiders into thinking the site is down.

  39. #39
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    Originally posted by thomas.smith
    The thing is: Can spam defines what is spam.
    can-spam provides a legal definition of spam that can be used to take action against those who don't comply with the provisions laid out therein. It does not, however, compel anyone to accept a given email simply because it is can-spam compliant.

    I'm afraid, thomas, that you will find the overwhelming majority of competent, clued-in admins know spam to be something other than what can-spam says it is. Can-spam is undeniably counter to conventional wisdom in this area.

    If it is not spam it might be annoying as hell but it is up to each host to decide whether they want to host such sites
    Fine, but you can't engage in an activity that's deemed unacceptable by the majority of your peers and expect to make a clean getaway. Things simply don't work that way in the real world. Just as,...I dunno, a herion addict will find himself a social outcast in most circles, so will a spam-supporting host within internet circles. You can host whomever you want, but don't then turn around and whine when it's time to face the inevitable heat.

    and people who have different views should not terrorize us in order to enforce their opinions.
    Since you insist on continuing to use use that ridiculous and hopelessly out of context word, let me ask you this - who would you consider more of a terrorist, the host who refuses traffic from spam supporting providers, or the provider who is complicit in allowing his clients to relentlessly pound other peoples' networks with unwanted, unrequested junk?

    -Bob

  40. #40
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    1,663
    Originally posted by thomas.smith
    I am just having an awesome idea: Let's make a listing of all the Spews and Sorbs etc. spider IPs. Then hosts can download this list and block access to their entire network on all ports. That means that the spiders will see the sites as offline and will not blacklist the IP or at least they will have difficulties to work. This will put the pressure right back on THEM and we will force them to listen to us like they usually do.
    Sure, they can still use dial up connections etc. but at least their spiders will have a problem and it will make things difficult for them.

    Once they stop acting freaky we will whitelist their IPs.

    What do you think about that ?
    I am very willing to support that on my servers.

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