Aligning Yourself With Block Lists
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In this article we will look at some email strategies and how they affect your hosting and domain name package. We'll discuss how to avoid being considered a spammer, and how to get your domain name cleared if your web site sent spam in one form or another. Specifically we will be looking at how UK-based Spamhaus operates, and how to be delisted (unless you are a professional spammer, you should be delisted) from their database of spam sites.
The effects of sending spam are numerous. If you are using a third party host your hosting package will probably tell you to take your business elsewhere. They may also hand over your details to law enforcement agents (if you are a professional spammer). There are a few ways you could inadvertently send spam emails; we will look at those in this article also. Another thing to be aware of is that spammers may use your mail service to send their mail. I won't go into much detail about that, since it mostly concerns security, and another article on setting up dedicated mail servers already looks at spammers using security flaws to penetrate systems.
Web hosting is probably one of the least glamorous Internet services (and becoming commoditized to boot), but while doing the 24 hour a day task of keeping a website up and running may have become mundane, the issue of spam is anything but mundane. Despite the commoditized nature of web hosting, most customers file the highest number of complaints about spam. Spam is also one of the most strictly regulated aspects of the business and has the greatest potential for changing overnight. Why am I including all the above preambles?
Twice I have worked with sites that were unable to send email due to being "black listed" -- once for an open relay on the host server, the second time for spamming (the result of a dirty list). The first instance had me outsourcing my hosting; the second made me research "how not to be considered a spammer," so I shambled off to http://www.spamhaus.org/ and read up on how they operate (after getting the site delisted). Nonetheless I still had a client's IP address blocked from sending emails by Spamhaus due to spambots invading his systems (the loopholes make online security an oxymoron). We won't look at the technical bits of protecting yourself from spammers here, since I am still on the low end of the learning curve, but we will make sure to discuss how to align yourself with a block list's policies, especially Spamhaus, and some tips on how to never slip up in the sending of your email.
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