View Full Version : Spam Filters. ISP based email is dying.

Mario F.
02-22-2008, 07:12 AM
Question: So, how exactly do you prevent crime?
Answer: You kill all the victims.

This is apparently the strategy adopted by current mail server spam filters and their blind followers; mail server administrators. They are targeting email users.

Spammers are notorious for their ability to circumvent anything that spam filters have been throwing at them over the years. Spam filters have evolved from simple from header parsers into software around the 4 figure mark. And it has to be said, that despite them costing that much, spammers still happily bounce around them.

There was a time when the user was the one doing the spam filtering. This was a task that we, email end users, chose or not to do. Some of us considered spam just an annoyance, others actively sought to fight it. Regardless, the choice was on our hands. ISPs however hated spam. Most users don't understand the whats/hows/whys of spam. They complained to their ISP their box is filled with junk about penis enlargement or credit card approvals and they don't understand why they received an email from the former Minister of Finance of Chad. And so, because ISPs never really made an effort to tutor their customer base, email server spam filters became quite a catch.

Naturally spammers laugh at them. This is so because of the very nature of the email protocol. One can't simply expect to stop spam with the current rules. But spam filters claim to do just that. They claim to stop (lie) or reduce (lie) spam. What they are doing instead is killing ISP based email by implementing the only thing that is left to them to implement; draconian spam rules that ban addresses or IPs based on their overly subjective email parsing rules.


And this is exactly what I'm currently experiencing with my ISP at clix.pt. I yesterday stopped 700,000 clix.pt customers from sending emails to @xxxx.ca (let's leave the canadian ISP anonymous for now) by provoking an IP ban on the assumption my email was spam. Naturally it wasn't. It was text commands to a PBEM (Play By Email) wargame mailbot to process my turn orders. Unfortunately I typoed the address and it went to another account of the same ISP.

Because the server spam filter parser considered that spam, it didn't stop that email on its tracks, it didn't ban my email account. Nope. That wouldn't do. They know that doesn't stop spam. It instead banned my ISP outgoing email server IP address! Clap! Clap! Hurray!

As of this rant, my ISP is still banned and I'm waiting on replies from both my ISP and xxx.ca administrators.

I remember once reading something like "Spam is an annoyance. Spam filters make me lose money." You see, it's becoming more a choice of web based email, domain name email or... phone.

02-29-2008, 09:38 AM
There are methods for stoping spam if you compile your own POP3 server, but if i tell you how ot do it, the spammers will just figure a way around it. Better to keep it secret and let everyone ele independantly discover it adn hope that they also keep it secret. At least for the time being, my ISP is safe-ish.

02-29-2008, 09:49 AM
Recently my school made the ridiculous decision to switch from internal, generally spam free (unless internship and job opportunity emials are spam, it has that in spades) to GMAIL...

Ever since I haven't been able to properly check my mail since.

First thing, they kept the old web servers up without explicitly saying that it's just a dummy account.

second thing the g-mail naturally dumps school-related e-mails in the junk mail, so you have to manually de-filter it. While also manually filtering the spam that makes it through

third thing is that now all my e-mails are going back to the old account for no reason, so the G-mail account is rendered inactive now. I really need to complain about this because most of my course notifications are through e-mail.

02-29-2008, 10:24 AM
Somone had the brilliant idea that they could save money by 'outsourcing' their email... Because yeah, like a school shouldnt employ its own students in performign actual real world tasks. I tried to explain that one to the director of an electricians school when they hired an outside electrician to rewire a hallway. I was flbergasted, I woudl never hire students from that school if the school itself has no confidence in their ability to do teh work.

Mario F.
02-29-2008, 10:27 AM
wow. This is what I call a coincidence. This thread gets alive exactly the same day I finally receive a reply from my ISP; 7 days after I sent them my email.

And. irony... they replied asking for more information.
On that email I had sent them the mailbot replies, the canadian ISP name, address, email and phone number. I tell them precisely what I have done that probably caused the ban with destination email addresses and the phone number of one of those people (the game host manager), and they still ask me for more information. I think probably they are asking me for a solution.

Anyways, I long solved the problem by moving my account for that game to gmail. Again... ISP based email is dying.

EDIT: PS. The only good thing I ever got from this ISP, apart from internet access (for which I pay ~$30/Month) was the knowledge, also today, that they don't allow their customers to send packets through port 25.

02-29-2008, 11:04 AM
only real solution is for them to get on the phone to the isp that blocked them and explain the situation and ask to be removed from their blacklist.

Its amazing what a simple friendly phone call can still accomplish.

03-01-2008, 02:34 AM
I simply do not use my ISP mail from the moment they decided to take additional money for services like spam-filtering and Antivirus mail scanner.

Why to pay for something I get for free on any other mail account I'm using?

03-01-2008, 06:40 AM
Spam is indeed a problem for ISPs, simply because of the amount of traffic it generates. Currently, 10% of the mail to my main account is spam caught by header analysis by my email provider, a further 5% is caught by Thunderbird's spam filter, and I don't even get notifications for the mails caught by the provider's blacklist and spam server blocker, because it was too much to manage.
99% of the mail to my university account is marked as spam by their filter.

If ISPs can block that spam, they save themselves the bandwidth of sending it on. And as long as they do it correctly, they also get praise from the customers. It's a win-win scenario, until something goes wrong.

Mario F.
03-01-2008, 06:52 AM
What seems to be going wrong is the draconian measures that are becoming a norm along with very little improvements on the software that implements them (Some reading (http://tabletumlnews.powerblogs.com/posts/1142613152.shtml). 2 years old. Nothing has changed).

My ISP pays for the bandwidth it uses. So I cannot in good conscious blame them too much. I'll have to endure their decisions on these matters (possibly even my wallet) and they will have to handle the fact there's no real solution to the problem with the current protocol and spam is only going to increase their costs and customer complaints further more.

It's, as I see it, a no win - no win situation.

03-01-2008, 10:42 AM
About 2 years ago I helped out this guy who was having trouble with email on his computer. In the process of helping him out, we sent out this email from his computer to another email address, and I mistakingly CC'd myself to it using my good gmail account. Why I did such a thing I do not know. Ever since that point my gmail account receives about 1000 spam emails every month.

Luckily the gmail spam filters are very good, and about 95% of those go straight to the spam bucket and I never see them. I have also not yet lost a single good email to the spam filters. All the good ones have made it through.

03-03-2008, 11:20 AM
large email providers have an advantage on the spammers, since any message header or body that gets sent to more than say 50 people is probably spam.

Ive also had the problem of having a stable accoutn for years, then one bad contact causes it to go all to hell. In this case its Linksys. Ever since contacting them i cant even delete all my yahoo spam, I just dont have the time. Its probably time to get a new email address

03-05-2008, 10:39 AM
What about snail-mail spam? Just as bad, maybe worse.

03-05-2008, 10:40 AM
What about snail-mail spam? Just as bad, maybe worse. IS worse (waste of paper)

03-05-2008, 11:46 AM
What about snail-mail spam? Just as bad, maybe worse. IS worse (waste of paper)

Yeah... We've got a national Do Not Call (https://www.donotcall.gov/) list here in the states you can sign up for, why can't we also have a Do Not Mail list? For example, anytime you want you can fill out a form (online/paper whatever) from the postal service (or whomever it would be) that has a bunch of categories, ads/credit card/coupons/mortgage/etc, and you could check which ones you agree to receive - any others you don't accept you simply stop getting in the mail. That would cut down on the crap I get in the mail by 95%. Fine the companies that send you unsolicited stuff without checking the list just like they are supposed to do with the Do Not Call list.

03-05-2008, 12:05 PM
Snail mail spam costs more to send, which makes it comparatively unattractive.