Thursday, October 03, 2019

>Hi Me, good question, "How did i get it to do that?"

>And I can answer that with the same answer I give to the other question,
> "Why didn't I fill out the form..."

>One answer: PDQ.

>I am done with PDQ. Main Reasons: I have been getting Way too much spam
>(been with them too long), several people tell me they get unexplained

(I'll put a version of this on my blog.)

It may be PDQ's own email operation, and it's appropriate
to look for a better one, but I wouldn't blame PDQ.
It's one of very few consumer markets that's truly
competitive. Profit margins are razor thin, so you
have the strange situation where the prices actually
reflect the cost. (I'm not talking about the monopoly
"broadband" service from the cable TV or phone companies,
or intensively advertised brands like AOL and Earthlink.)
Internet America is trying to sell dial-up service with
an "accellerator" for $20/month. They're probably
paying a wholesaler $4-5/month for the phone line
and the "accellerator" facility costs another $7-8/mo.
At that price they can't afford to run adequate email
service. But tens of millions of consumers buy
exactly that package of services, from dozens of retailers.
It's good enough for certain consumer entertainment purposes.
It's just not good enough for real work. You've been
buying a low-ball consumer toy and trying to use
it as a serious tool.

I've been talking about this problem for years.
I've handed out flyers at Green meetings. I've done
workshops. Nobody wants to hear it. They think they've
found a "bargain" and it's a blow to the ego to find
out they're just buying junk and that's why it's cheaper.
Or something.

The email that comes with cable TV or telco DSL or Gmail
or Yahoo or Hotmail are just as bad. You may hear from
people who are happy with them, but a few dozen anecdotes
are not a statistical sample. Most of the telcos outsource
the operation to Yahoo. Cable TV companies are as bad
as cell phone or corporate software in terms of service
quality, and their Internet operations are *worse*
than their TV operations. Gmail has serious privacy

The ugly fact is email has gotten really expensive to
operate. The guy who runs one of the biggest and best
in my region told me that half the servers in his
data center are dedicated, they do nothing else, to
blocking and analyzing and sorting junk email.

It accounts for half the electricity consumed by the
installation, and two thirds of the staff time. It's the
same with corporate IT departments that still run their
own Internet email. Spam and malware is now 97-98%
of all email messages. There's an environmental issue
here. Suppose computers and networking equipment consume
something like 3% of the electric power in a large
office building. Remember you burn it three times: once
in the computer and twice in the air conditioner removing
the waste heat from the building. That means 1.5% of
electric power delivered to the densest areas of US
cities is being burned by spam.

Spamming is international
organized crime. It costs the global economy tens of
billions of dollars directly, hundreds if you count
lost staff time at the network edge. After embezzlement
and corrupt government procurement, I suspect it's the
biggest category of crime, in terms of dollar cost, that
doesn't provoke any serious law enforcement effort.
It's intentional. The biggest Internet carriers could
shut most of it down in a few months if they really
wanted to. They're letting the spammers do the dirty
work of destroying the public email system so they
can replace it with a centrally controlled proprietary

If you want a professional grade of email service you
are going to have to pay what it costs to operate.
You can't get it for free from any for-profit corporation.
The email account at is a bargain and
reliable, but you'll have to set up your own spam
filtering on it. might be a little better,
I don't know. Right now the best value might be
the "high performance email" service at might be almost as good. The "premium"
account at Outblaze ( might still be usable.
The aggressive blocking I do at might be adequate
for you, but we do get the occasional "false positive."

>and it was time for me to abandon dial-up anyway.

That's hard for most people because they are using email
addresses with their ISP's name in them. You don't
get this chance very often. Register your own personal
domain name and use it for your email address.
That way you can switch providers all you want without
telling anybody. You're crossing a threshhold where
you can't afford business grade Internet ACCESS, but
you need business grade EMAIL SERVICE. That means you
are going to have to buy the two services from two
different companies. You're halfway there when you start
thinking about moving to Gmail or Yahoo. But do it right
and move to a serious email company. Get the bargain
high-speed access from the cable TV or telco, but pretend
it didn't even come with email service.

>I have no
>idea how the double @ came about. Blame PDQ (Internet America).

>And about the dlist form? Honestly, I didn't know about it,

That's another wall I beat my head against with the Greens.
Type the phrase " email" into Google.
Try it with or without the quotes. Take a look at
the first two hits both ways. People don't even TRY to
figure out what's going on when their email is rejected.
They just GUESS.


Thursday, February 03, 2011 thinks a phishing report is a "virus"

I've been receiving phish spam from a Lunarpages VPS ("") this year.  When I send a sample, included inline in a plain text email, their inbound email machine (, waits until the end of the DATA phase of the SMTP conversation.  Then it says:

     554 rejected due to virus

which means it's refusing the message.  I opened a ticket in their abuse system.  The technician insisted that since the message says "virus" there must actually be a computer virus in the message.  I pointed out that the message was in plain text and contained nothing like any kind of malware, and he simply repeated the response.  The spamming continued.  I called tech support and they insisted that since I am not a customer they are not allowed to talk to me about it.  But he suggested I try sending from another provider.  I have not been able to identify any human being at Lunarpages who is allowed to talk to an email admin outside his own company.  Somehow, I suspect if calls, they'll talk to him.  But maybe their lawyers have to arrange an appointment first.

I tried sending the spam report from my account at  Same result.

This dysfunction, folks, is why the email medium is dying.

Incidentally, the RFC 2142 addresses and are listed as not working, with evidence, at  No surprise there, since they don't work.  The clearinghouse suggests you try hostmaster there.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


What's with

"Why is my ISP blocking senders?" someone asked on my contact form. I replied:

Hello [name], thanks for filling out the form. Your email address is on the domain. Most of those are outsourced by AT&T to Yahoo Inc. The rest are managed by AT&T internally.

I am fairly sure Yahoo and AT&T do not use my lists. Therefore, I have no control over whether you can receive email from senders.

The domain belongs to Chunghwa Telecom Co., Ltd. According to (very authoritative), Chungwa a/k/a Hinet is the #4 spammer service company in the world. Like most Asian phone companies, they take nationalistic pride in ignoring complaints from the West. (Mainland China and South Korea are equally imperious, and Viet Nam is even worse.) So lots of email systems in the West are blocking Hinet. It is not to make a political statement. We know Hinet does not care, and does not take protesters seriously. It is a simple mechanical defense against the ongoing spam attack by Hinet's spammers.

So you can tell your friends in Taiwan this:
Hinet is what we call a "rogue network." Hinet seems to believe the rules of the Internet do not apply to Hinet. As long as Hinet is on the Spamhaus top ten list, lots of networks all over the world are going to block email from there. Hinet needs to change the way it does business. That is not going to happen fast, so your friends need to use some other company for their email if they want to send reliably.

Best wishes. Sorry to bring you bad news.

-Me in San Jose.

Friday, October 02, 2009


We seem to get blocked a lot. But we love our ISP!

A progressive activist mentioned to me that her organization's email tended to get blocked a lot.  From her perspective,  all these Internet companies (ISPs) are the same, and they're "warring" over spam emissions with nobody doing anything to clean it up.  But we already know all ISPs are not the same.  A single web query showed what was really wrong at her ISP.  (I looked up her domain at the link four paragraphs down from here.)  I replied something like so.The problem is your Internet company sends a lot of spam and doesn't know it.  That's because their contact address for that is broken.

There is a simple, widely recognized standard for contact addresses. It was published by the technical governing body of the Internet a dozen years ago, and it only formalized a tradition that was a dozen years old then. The standard is called Internet Engineering Task Force RFC2142. It says if you run a domain where there are things that can be abused, you are supposed to have an "abuse" email address on that domain for reporting said abuse. And you're supposed to have "postmaster" for reporting email issues.  It's common sense to have a standard for that, and the IETF is the body that publishes standards like that.

Now, people who have no idea how the Internet works will tell you that there are no standards, or no standards body, or the real standards body is some corporation (Google, cisco, Microsoft...) or "RFC just stands for Request for Comment, they don't really mean anything."  But that just shows their ignorance. The Internet works because people who know what they are doing voluntarily comply with the IETF's RFCs, including 2142. It's the greatest demonstration of functional anarchy, as far as I know, in all of human history.  A voluntary association of network operators who agree to run their networks so that they're all compatible with each other.

IETF RFC2142 is so important in tracking and dealing with email abuse that there is a clearinghouse which keeps track of domains that fail. Unfortunately, the volunteers who set it up chose its name poorly, so that people who don't understand how the Internet works don't take it seriously, or even take offense at its name! Nevertheless, has outlasted much more corporate or "professional" operations like Mail Abuse Prevention System, Open Relay Database, and plenty of others.

My fellow activist's ISP's domain name is listed at In fact, I submitted the evidence for that listing! I do that when I can't figure out where to report spam from a network, because its standard contact addresses bounce my spam report. I report most of the spam that reaches my mailbox, maybe a dozen a day. (I use tools. It's quick.) I report one or two domains to RFC-I each day, on average.

She said, "But every week there are a couple of new [ISPs blocking us], or old ones that were once fixed that pop us again and have to be dealt with."

That's happening because her ISP has not been good at controlling spamming from its network. When the RFC2142 addresses don't work, or are listed as not working, you don't get the most detailed and timely reports. So you take longer to discover a spam source on your network.

Not that an RFC-I listing is the be-all and end-all of ISP ratings. But it tends to be a remarkably reliable indicator. Top-notch ISPs are hardly ever listed, with a handful of very large exceptions, while low-ballers and bumblers usually are.

Everybody gets in block lists occasionally. Verizon blocked all of Europe for a couple of weeks. But if it's happening regularly, your ISP really is doing something wrong.

Sorry if that's not what you wanted to hear.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Listwashed at wants you to think they're one of those post dot-com enlightened legitimate email marketing services

I got "campaign message" (spam) from their system to a trap address that's been dead for years. Reported it to their "contact us" form, not the Ethical CAN-SPAM Compliant Opt-Out link in the spam. Received a slick "sorry to see you go" message from the Client (customer of spammer-for-hire) within minutes.

That's called list washing. There was no ambiguity here. The spammer scraped or bought a list. There's no other way they would have gotten it. They took it to Mailchimp, who spammed it for them. It's what spammer-friendly service providers do. It's one of the reasons there's still spam. Spamming is what that other guy does.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


new Microsoft spam support service, Office Live

Spam came through a botnet host on, advertising It's hosted on Microsoft's Office Live "cloud" service. I reported it to and the report was automatically rejected, needs a Hotmail domain. I to get it past the broken robot.

I got a personally worded response from MSFT's abuse staff. They refuse to do anything about the spamvertised web site on their server. I should "unsubscribe" from its "newsletter."

Now it's official. Microsoft lets you advertise your Office Live web site in spam. Kind of like Yahoo did when they first started their small business hosting service 15 years ago.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Hotmail stupidity protects spammers

Apparently Hotmail (Microsoft Corporation) is now selling private label email service, and some of its customers offer that service "free" to the Nigerian identity theft syndicate.

A typical fraud email offers the usual box of money stranded somehow in Nigeria, and to reclaim it I must email the gov't of Nigeria at (Yes, people actually fall for this. Mostly it's wanna-be con artists who think they're gonna con the Nigerians.) I got three copies. The MX records for are 86024 IN MX 0 86024 IN MX 10
That is, Hotmail hosts this Nigerian identity theft mailbox account.

The only address that seems to work at all for Hotmail is Abuse@ and Postmaster@ don't work. I sent a complete, simple spam report. Hotmail said:

Unfortunately, in order to process your request, Hotmail Support needs a valid MSN/Hotmail hosted account.

The response came within a couple of minutes. Nobody told the abuse deaprtment about these new private-labeled domains. An automatic filter is throwing away reports of hotmail hosted spam. Until this is fixed, spammer accounts on Hotmail are pretty much bullet proof.

Apr1l 2010 update.  I think I'll list the problem domains here.,,,,,,,,,,,,,

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