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Spam and Junk Mail

What else can Pulsant do to stop spam?

Pulsant is always interested in new ideas and systems to help stop spam, and we will participate in any scheme to help combat spam, that we feel is in the best interests of our customers. In the meantime, in addition to our spam filtering service, we endeavour to ensure that we are not responsible for anyone else receiving spam, by continually auditing our networks to ensure that they cannot be used to relay spam messages.

Cancellation of Service

Pulsant register all domains for a period of 2 years. When the domain name registration is close to the renewal period, our accounts department will send an invoice for a further 2 years registration to the ‘Billing Contact’ for the domain. This generally happens 1 month prior to the renewal date.

If at this time you decide that you do not wish to renew this domain then simply contact our accounts department in writing and advise that you no longer wish to renew the domain. You may contact us by email but please ensure that the email is sent from the authorised email address we have in our customer database. If you are unsure what the authorised email address is then please telephone our accounts department on 0845 119 9922 and quote the invoice number. They will be more than happy to assist.

After we have received the proper authorisation, the domain will be set to auto expire and the current invoice will be cancelled. Please note that once the domain expires, it will become freely available for a 3rd party to register after approximately 60 days. You have until that time to change your mind if you wish.

As a further note, please ensure that you cancel any associated services e.g. domain name hosting, database hosting, mail hosting etc as these will cease to function after the expiry date. Any invoices related to these services will still be live and must be ceased separately. Again, please either do this from the Customer Area or contact our accounts department from an authorised email address.

What else can I do to stop spam?

You can certainly reduce the amount of spam you receive by taking the following advice:

Don’t post your e-mail address to message boards or newsgroups. These are regularly scanned by spammers in order to get lists of active e-mail addresses. Don’t reply to ‘unsubscribe’ addresses, if you never subscribed in the first place. More often than not, these are a trick so that spammers can see which address are real addresses, and which ones are fake.

Don’t encourage the spammers. By buying the products they are offering, or by visiting their websites, you are only proving to them that their spamming works.

There is a website listed in this spam message, can I complain to their ISP?

Yes, but again be wary that there’s no guarantee that these sites are related to the spam that you have received. Reputable companies rarely use spam as a marketing tool, so if the spam is advertising something like microsoft.com, there’s a good chance that they didn’t send it. Most ISP’s have an abuse address, usually [email protected], where isp.com is the ISP’s domain.

Isn’t there a law against spam?

Yes. New UK anti-spam laws came into effect on 11/12/2003. These laws say that marketers can send e-mail or SMS pitches only to consumers who have agreed beforehand to receive them, except where they are already customers of a particular company. The Office of the Information Commissioner is enforcing the new regulations.Yes. New UK anti-spam laws came into effect on 11/12/2003. These laws say that marketers can send e-mail or SMS pitches only to consumers who have agreed beforehand to receive them, except where they are already customers of a particular company. The Office of the Information Commissioner is enforcing the new regulations.

Why does this spam message seem to come from myself?

The “From:” field in e-mails can be set to anything. It is not checked in any way across the internet as there is no real way to check to see if the from address is valid. As such, it is possible to set this to anything, even to the address of the person the mail is being sent to. It is nothing to worry about, and again is simply just there to confuse people. The thinking behind this ploy is that you may be more inclined to open a message that appeared to come from yourself.

Can my mail program stop spam?

Few, if any, mail clients out there have facilities to stop spam. Whilst most mail clients have rulesets that allow you to discard mail from certain addresses, these prove useless to stop spam as the address fields can be so easily faked. Check with your e-mail client manufacturer to see if they have any special features to help combat spam.

The spam is addressed to someone else, but I still received it!

There is more than one place you can put the “To:” field in the raw e-mail data. Some parts of this are used by mail servers, and some parts are used by mail clients. Often, spammers alter these so that they don’t match up, just to further confuse people

What is an open relay?

An open relay is a mail server that has not been configured correctly, and allows people anywhere on the internet to relay mail through it. This means that they can be used in conjunction with open proxies in order to send mail which is untraceable back to the source. For details on how to stop your mail server being used as an open relay, see this link for MS Exchange.

How does Pulsant’s spam filtering work?

The Pulsant spam scanning system uses a program called SpamAssassin to detect spam coming into your mailbox. SpamAssassin detects spam emails by having a large database of rules which help to work out how likely a message is to be a spam.

Each rule has a score attached to it and when a message matches a rule, the score for that rule gets added to the total for that message. For example, the rule “HTML_20_30 BODY” is applied if the message is 20% to 30% HTML and has a score of 0.5. The rule “BIZ_TLD URI” means that the message contains a URL in the BIZ top-level domain and has a score of 0.8. If a message matched both the “HTML_20_30 BODY” and “BIZ_TLD URI” rules then it would get a score of 1.3.

Neither of these items on their own automatically mean a message is spam, but the more there are, the more likely a message is spam. You can then decide what score you would like to be your cut-off point or threshold. Messages which are scored above your threshold are marked as spam and put in your Junk folder (available via webmail).
There are also rules which look at the headers of the email (the part that contains the To:, From: and Subject: fields along with details of the path the message took to get to you). These rules will look for things in the header that should not be there. For example, if the sender has attempted to fake some of their details or the sending host is on a RBL (Realtime Blackhole List – a list of servers which spammers are known to be working from).

The Pulsant system allows you to choose from three settings:

  • High: a score of 5 points
  • Medium: a score of 10 points
  • Low: a score of 15 points

This allows you to pick the level that best suits the sort of email you get. If you have a very low tolerance for emails that might be spam, you should set your spam filtering level to high. This will block any messages with a score of 5 or above. However, you should keep an eye on your Junk folder to make sure you don’t have any real emails that have been marked as spam.
If there are individual email addresses which are being marked as spam and being put into your Junk folder then you can add these to your whitelist. A whitelist is a list of known good email addresses for which spam filter is never applied.
If you are seeing a large number of real emails being marked as spam, you may have your filter set at too high a level for the type of email you are receiving and you should try setting the level to medium or even low.

If you have any issues with spam filtering please contact Pulsant support at [email protected] or 0845 1199 999.

Who should I report spam to?

As the information in e-mail is so easily forged, complaints to the ISP from which the e-mail apparently comes will often be directed to the wrong people. Instead by using a service such as Spamcop, the headers can be checked so that the people who are really responsible can be contacted.

If you find that you are receiving a lot of spam with similar source/content you may want to report spam to Pulsant and get us to add an example to our spam filters. In order to do this please email [email protected] with the complete spam message AND full headers from this message.

To find out how to access email headers please see these articles.

What about the remove address on the message?

A lot of spam messages have an address you can reply to to be removed from their lists. In most cases, this is just a trick to see if your e-mail address is still valid. If you reply to the remove address, the spammers will then know that your e-mail account is being read, and will then send more and more mail to it.

What are RBL’s and how does Pulsant use them?

Realtime blackhole lists (RBLs) are lists of servers that are either:

  • servers that spammers are known to be operating on (because spam has been received with these servers in the headers)
  • dynamic IP address ranges that should be sending through the ISP’s mail server rather than sending direct (ie IP’s dynamically assigned to dial up connections)

Most spam comes from dynamic IP customers whose boxes have been compromised and turned into open relays. By blocking these ranges from sending us email, we are mitigating a very large amount of spam.
Unfortunately, no spam catching system is 100% effective and occasionally we will come across people who use direct MX delivery from dynamic ranges; if these dynamic ranges are on RBL’s and the receiving mail server is using an RBL then this mail will be bounced by the receiving server.

In this situation, we would advise them to use their ISPs smart host instead. As spam becomes an ever increasing problem, more and more ISPs are going to start blocking dynamic pools so sending directly from a dynamic IP range is going to become less reliable (especially when systems like SPF are more widely used).
If you are having difficulty sending directly from your internet connection, Pulsant customers should send through mail.lumison.net.
We are currently protecting our customers from spam by using the following RBLs with the best reputations for accuracy:

Lumison does not use either MAPS or ORBS to block incoming mail as they are not totally reliable methods for blocking spam. Often genuine e-mail will be blocked by their lists, causing severe disruption to people and businesses.

What isn’t spam?

Other junk mail messages that aren’t classed as spam include mailing list messages, where you have subscribed to a mailing list,and advertising from companies where you have had the option to choose “Do not send e-mail to this address” when you gave your address to them. In each of these cases, there should be a genuine option to unsubscribe from their lists, stopping any future messages.

What is spam?

Spam is unsolicited junk mail, usually used to send out mass advertising.

How can I stop it?

Pulsant provides a free spam filtering service on Pulsant accounts. This system analyses each email message for common features of spam, and gives it a number that indicates how likely it is to be spam.

You can set your spam filtering to off, low, medium or high, to determine the threshold to be used to decide whether a message should be filtered out as being spam. For information on how to enable spam filtering on your account, please see this article.

Note that spam scanning is set to medium by default when we set up a new POPbox account for you. But if you order a new POPbox in our customer area spam scanning will be set to Off by default.

You can also purchase your own spam filtering software; an internet search should reveal some of the options.
It may also be possible to determine where a spam email has come from, and report it to the system administrator of the site. Unfortunately, this is not very easy.

Spoofing addresses in e-mail is trivial, and as such, it is very difficult to see where the message actually came from. The only way to trace a spam message is to look at the headers in the e-mail. Unfortunately, as there are so many badly configured systems on the internet, spammers normally route through a number of compromised machines (open relays and open proxies) in the process of sending the mail.

If you are able to determine that the mail was sent through a compromised system then you should complain to the site’s systems administrators that they are being used to relay mail.

Another way to decrease the amount of spam you ae receiving is to not use a catch-all mail routing rule. A catch-all looks like this: @bloggs.com. This would accept mail for any address @bloggs.com e.g. [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected]. Having a catchall rule makes it easy for spammers to target you. All they need is your domain name and they can then send to any address @that domain name and the mail will be delivered. To avoid this situation just have mail routing for specific email addresses that you need and do not utilize a catch-all rule.