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Verizon's Aggressive New Spam Filter Causing Problems 311

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the annoyances-and-other-corporate-bothers dept.
aviancarrier writes "Verizon DSL has turned on a very aggressive spam filter that is blocking lots of long-time legitimate emails. Emails get bounced with an error: 'XX@verizon.net: host relay.verizon.net[206.46.232.11] said: 550 Email from your Email Service Provider is currently blocked by Verizon Online's anti-spam system. The email "sender" or Email Service Provider may visit http://www.verizon.net/whitelist and request removal of the block.' That whitelist web page lets you request one address at a time to be whitelisted with no guarantee for their response time to process it. I have tested multiple email sources and only one got through. As a VZ customer, I just spent 28 minutes on a call to tech support, eventually got a supervisor who knows nothing about the new spam feature, and would only agree to email a manager who doesn't work weekends about it. I warned her that VZ has a public relations problem but she was too clueless to understand." Many users have submitted this problem so it seems to be a pretty far reaching problem. There is also a discussion going on over at Google about this problem.
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Verizon's Aggressive New Spam Filter Causing Problems

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  • Re:28 minutes? (Score:5, Informative)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Monday April 24, 2006 @12:12PM (#15190478)
    Bookmark this page. [gethuman.com] It will be your best friend.
  • by jamie (78724) * <jamie@slashdot.org> on Monday April 24, 2006 @12:29PM (#15190618) Homepage Journal
    We wouldn't have run this story if all we saw was 6 people on a Google discussion. We have confirmation that something's going on. But we don't know a whole lot about the scope, and we're hoping that readers will provide more data points.
  • by dekemoose (699264) on Monday April 24, 2006 @12:36PM (#15190666)
    A large number of mail providers arbitrarily block any mail originating from net blocks identified as being used by "consumer" ISP's for dynamically assigned IP addresses. It's kind of lame, but also very effective at stopping large amounts of spam. Use your ISP's mail server as a smart host, or (if you don't trust the clue level of your ISP) one of the many SMTP relay services out there, I believe DynDns does one.
  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Monday April 24, 2006 @12:47PM (#15190747) Homepage Journal
    My company implemented my blocking methods [freesoftwaremagazine.com] and saw an instant reduction in spam from a deluge to a tiny trickle. The three most effective filters are:

    1. Requiring HELO,
    2. Rejecting non-FQDN HELO strings ("foo.bar" will get you in, but "myleetmailserver" won't), and
    3. Rejecting HELO strings that blatantly lie (you're not "localhost" or my public IP address, no matter how many times you ask).

    More and more ISPs are starting to implement the same compliance checks. Would any of these reject your system's mail? Several of our customers had misconfigured outbound servers and we helped them fix their systems. We were only early adopters, though; if we hadn't caught the problem then a major ISP or five would have started rejecting their email without being so helpful.

    Maybe VZ is in the right this time. Are you sure they're not?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 24, 2006 @12:48PM (#15190763)
    well, some lawyers are filing a class action lawsuit on behalf of Verizon customers. i've got the e-mail somewhere in my junkmail folder.

    but yeah, Verizon's anti-spam feature is broken. i logged on to my account with their web tool, and i disabled their spam block feature. but when i check my e-mail through their webmail interface, i see a bunch of unread mail in the spam folder. of course, it was all spam.. but still.
  • by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Monday April 24, 2006 @12:51PM (#15190791) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps the "we" that decided to run the story could have devoted a bit more time writing or editing the article synopsis? Perhaps even make it factually correct wrt to the ability to whitelist multiple domains/ip addrs with a single request (which the summary says must be done one by each)?

  • by GreggBz (777373) on Monday April 24, 2006 @01:12PM (#15190938) Homepage
    I admin a small ISP and I can tell you that the postmaster inbox had about 25 emails this morning with "I can't email xxxx@verizon.net." Additionally, we've had a few irates in the call center today. This was enough to rattle the nerves a bit, and I actually spent a few hours searching through the logs to see if we were naughty, since the whole thing seemed pretty arbitrary and there was no abuse evidence provided from Verizon. After seeing this, I'm slightly relieved it's not our fault. I took some time to fill out the whitelist form this morning anyway..

    The issue (from our domain at least), has apparently resolved itself as of about 7AM EST, 2 hours prior to me filling in the boxes.
  • Yeah, this system from Verizon is junk. It blocks legitimate email constantly. We currently have 2 businesses in the same building. For some reason, Verizon is constantly blocking one of our business domains from the other business domain. And no amount of phone calls or emails or removal requests have done anything for us. We will shortly be moving to a new provider.
  • by evilbessie (873633) on Monday April 24, 2006 @01:34PM (#15191074)
    Well this is really not news to me. I work for an anti-spam company (not a very good one) and I personally noticed this first occur about 12-18 months ago. At that time Verizon decided to block pretty much all oversees mail. Being based in the UK caused no end of issue, although I seem to recal having PTR records did help some.

    So they have been evil again, wow, i'm shocked truely shocked.

    enjoy
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 24, 2006 @01:34PM (#15191078)
    I run multiple forums sites, and I can confirm that I started receiving anti-spam messages just as reported here, starting today. Not sure how long it will take to get our sites whitelisted, if they will whitelist them at all.

  • by ModExec (970413) on Monday April 24, 2006 @01:42PM (#15191142)
    As a Verizon DSL custmoer, I can attest to there being a problem. For the past 18 months, Verizon has refused to pass along listserv messages forward to my verizon.net inbox from my university email account. Emails from individuals that are addressed to my univeristy made it through the spam filters fine. But emails from my university's listserver were blocked. All of them.

    I called Verizon about it in January after I realized it was happening. I suspected it had been going on since I got my DSL service, but at the time just assumed that I had been unsubscribed from all of my school's listservs (because of some crazy mix up regarding my academic year, my switch from an undergrad to a law student, etc. Don't ask...). Verizon opened an Operation Control Services (OSC) ticket to look into the matter. After four months of investigating, dozens of calls, hours of talking to tech no-support, and five OSC tickets later, the matter still is not resolved.

    During the time we were diagnosing the problem, OSC asked for the error code that my university received whenever it tried to forward messages. My college's IT department told me that they received an error 450 for every message: "Deferred: 450 Requested mail action not taken-Try later:sv11pub.verizon.net (from relay.verizon.net [206.46.232.11])." According to OSC, this meant that the Verizon mail server could not verify that the listserv messages being forwarded actually originated from the listserver domain. Given my school's list server set up, this makes perfect sense; users on the listserv may send an email to the server's listening account, which takes messages and creates a new message to blast the original message to all the listserv's recipients. The intermediate listening account seemed to be a legitimate way to relay messages to recipients.

    Apparently, that didn't fly with the Verizon servers. OSC engineers thoroughly explained the problem in my account's notes, "Sender cannot be verified, which is the cause of their mail issue. NOTE: 451 ... Requested mail action not taken: mailbox unavailable. Whitelisting will not help. They will need to correct the config on their mail server." This made no sense to me, to my school's IT department, and even to the Verizon tech who tried to interpret the notes. Apparently, what these notes meant to say was the university's servers did not comply with some sort of internet standards for mail routing. Despite there being a legitimate use for the messages, Verizon would not create an exception in the hallowed standard to accomodate the forwarded messages. Verizon's OSC recommended that I tell my school's IT department that it was their servers that did not comply with the standard -- that if they wanted Verizon to accept their forwards, they needed to reconfigure their listservers. This was incredible. For what it was worth, I relayed this to my school's IT department. Not surprizingly, they have made no changes. Why fix what works with 99.9% of the ISPs out there? Whoever said Verizon was using brute force tactics to do business has hit the nail right on the head.

    But this is not the only problem at Verizon. One month ago, they had to suspend their entire "Block Senders" database because it got so large that the Verizon server couldn't process the messages through it. As I understand it, the database caused a number of hiccups, blocking hundreds of legitimate messages and letting through as many or more spam messages. To this day, Verizon has not reintstated users' "block senders" email option.

    This is not to mention the fact that Verizon is notorious for not following up with its customers. Over the four months that I tried to get a resolution, only once did I ever receive a call from a member of the supervisor escalation group, informing me of any "progress." In an effort to keep myself in the loop, I would call the verizon tech no-support department, only to find that that my OSC ticket had been closed without notice and without resolu
  • by walt-sjc (145127) on Monday April 24, 2006 @01:43PM (#15191150)
    Actually, no, the system from Verizon (VOL) is not a step in the right direction.

    Imagine the impact to email in general if EVERY ISP and company use such a bonehead system. Everytime you sent email to a new person (customer / client,) you would have to *find*, then fill out some bizzaro web form. MAYBE in a week or so you will finally be able to send your email. Exactly how does this help things???

    VOL's problem is that the group running their email service is a bunch of totally incompetant BOFH a-holes. Instead of deploying well known and effective anti-spam solutions, they are just blacklisting up a storm, and utilizing broken home-grown "sender verification" systems. Meanwhile, the spew of filth from VOL's own network continues to infest the rest of the internet unabated.

    VOL's problem with unreliable email service is VERY VERY well known to its customers - check the internal Verizon newsgroups. VOL's customers continue to complain constantly, as they have for nearly 2 years now, about missing or delayed email - but nobody at VOL is listening (or cares.)
  • Pesky Supervisors! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 24, 2006 @03:14PM (#15191932)
    Error "550" has a couple of causes. The cause that you're experiencing is what is called a "whitelisting issue". Unfortunately, Tech Support has nothing to do with this process. Its entirely managed by the Verizon Anti-spam team. You can access and fill out a form at www.verizon.net/whitelist.

    I've spent a fair amount of time tracking down the error that you're looking at. Its primarily caused by 2 things. Your server sends Verizon spam or its misconfigured.

    1. Your server is a known open relay or has otherwise been responsible for sending spam to the Verizon network.

    2. Your server is misconfigured. An improperly configured webserver will cause this problem every time. VOL, when receiving an email from a web server, attempts to check the validity and credentials of the sender on the originating SMTP server. If your server fails to respond with an appropriate timeframe or responds incorrectly, your server will be immediately placed on the "black list"

    I'd like to note that Verizon has had this (exact same) anti-spam procedure in place for almost a year and a half. I'm still going to say this is "much ado about nothing".

    Unfortunately, I probably shouldn't attach my name to this one. I'll post this AC and see if anyone cares to mod up the reason why you're receiving this error.

    AC

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