Spam busting tactics turned on AV vendor

Spam busting tactics turned on AV vendor

Australian antispam vendor TotalBlock has been threatened with a suspended service by ISP People Telecom after the vendor was dobbed in as a spammer and put on a global black list by a third-party spam watch list.

Two weeks ago, TotalBlock received a letter from People Telecom stating it had received numerous complaints of spam activity coming from its IP address and threatened to suspend service within 48 hours unless action was taken.

TotalBlock ignored the letter and so far have had no repercussions. The suspect e-mail (reported to SpamCop by a UK recipient) contained a link back to TotalBlock on request of TotalBlock customers.

Peter Stewart, TotalBlock chairman, said no TotalBlock customers have been affected because the letter got "chucked out". Stewart said there was no downside to TotalBlock business operations other than the perceived threat of stopping its mail-out service.

"The issue is, I think, at a higher level than being put on a black list by SpamCorp, but we are still continuing to use People Telecom without further repercussions; however, the sequence of events is interesting to us," Stewart said.

"I think the process behind people being put on black lists is flawed as while it might get spammers they don't always mail from the same IP address and they are quite adept at managing their way around the black and white lists...Catching the good guys does not change anything.

"We suspect we were put on the list by including a link in the body of an e-mail in a mail-out; but I think there is more of a tendency to blacklist people who send out links. As far as we can tell the issue has been resolved, nothing has happened after the 48-hour deadline, but we have shut down communications (with People Telecom)."

Stewart said the shutdown "threat" was only one in a "ludicrous chain of events" of which the whole process was "reminiscent of a Middle Ages witch hunt", adding that the whole issue hinged around being put on the SpamCop Web site (

The original e-mail to SpamCop quite possibly came from the UK, according to Stewart. The original Total Block e-mail was sent from a server in the Philippines and was reported to SpamCop, an American-based service.

Both People Telecom and SpamCop were contacted by Computerworld. Neither was willing to respond to a request for comment.

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