In previous posts, we have discussed types of spam traps and how an email marketer can stay out of them. In this article, we are going to talk about the blacklist services Spamhaus and Spamcop.
Spamhaus is an international non-profit organization that helps the majority of Internet Service Providers, ESPs, corporations and other security vendors by tracking spammers and blocking the vast majority of spam and malware sent over internet. It provides several blacklists such as SBL, XBL, PBL, DBL and ZEN, which can be used by mailbox providers for protection against spam-like activities.
SBL – The Spamhaus Block List is the collection of IP addresses from which Spamhaus doesn’t recommend the receipt of email. It is maintained by a devoted team of investigators spread over 10 countries.
XBL – Exploits Block List is a real-time database of IP addresses of hijacked PCs infected by illegal 3rd party exploits, including open proxies (HTTP, socks, AnalogX, wingate, etc), worms/viruses with built-in spam engines and other types of trojan-horse exploits.
PBL – The Policy Block List is a DNSBL database of end-user IP address ranges which should not be delivering unauthenticated SMTP email to any Internet mail server, except those provided for specifically by an ISP for that customer’s use. The PBL helps networks enforce their Acceptable Use Policy for dynamic and non-MTA customer IP ranges.
DBL – The Domain Block List is a real-time database of domains (typically web site domains) found in spam messages. Mail server software capable of scanning email message body contents for URIs can use the DBL to identify, classify or reject spam containing DBL-listed domains.
ZEN – This is the latest Spamhaus list which combines all of the blocklist zones. It is the most recommended, as it integrates the feature of SBL, XBL, PBL. Rather, you should be using only zen.spamhaus.org in your IP blocklist configuration. Never use ZEN together with other Spamhaus IP blocklists as it will simply be wasting DNS queries and slowing your mail queue.
Spamcop is the premium service for reporting spam and it gets its list by crawling the internet and from users that report spam. Spamcop discovers the genesis of unwanted email and reports it to the pertinent Internet Service providers. It’s reporting service is free and you can get started by clicking this link: https://www.spamcop.net/anonsignup.shtml.
What is the SpamCop Blocking List (SCBL)?
The SpamCop Blocking List (SCBL) is a combative spam-fighting tool that indexes IP addresses which have transmitted reported email to SpamCop users. The SCBL is a quick and automatic list of sites sending reported mail, with multiple report sources, including automated reports and SpamCop user submissions. The SCBL also quickly and automatically delists these sites when reports cease.
You can read about the working rules of SCBL and it’s implementation here: https://www.spamcop.net/fom-serve/cache/297.html.
What to do if you are listed on a Spamhaus or Spamcop blacklist?
Take prompt action:
To know if you are listed on Spamhaus enter your IP address or domain name here: https://www.spamhaus.org/lookup/ . If you are blocked on Spamhaus, getting delisted should be your first concern as it will affect your deliverability. Review your recent email sends to find the possible issues that triggered the blacklisting. Gauze your list for bounces and inactive email IDs.
Resolve the issue:
To get delisted from Spamhaus, you need to fix the issue that caused the blacklisting. Your technical support will be able to guide you through the process. Some of the points you should check are:
Review your list procurement – Investigate all your sources of list acquisition and stop sending emails to rented or purchased lists. Follow all the components involved to maintain list quality such validation of email addresses and implementing double opt-in.
Remove inactive & bounced IDs: Inactive users are vulnerable to spam traps. These are users not engaging to your campaigns and a segmentation policy should be placed to filter out these contacts. Mailbox providers will send an unknown user code a year in advance before turning it into a spam trap. It is important that you identify bounces and remove contacts identified on feedback loops.
As soon as you complete the above checklist, follow the delisting process here: https://www.spamhaus.org/lookup/. While completing the delist form, briefly inform them that you have fixed the issue. Once you are removed from a blacklist, make sure to monitor metrics like complain rates, unknown user rates and spam trap hits proactively.