Blacklists began appearing relatively early in terms of internet history. The first ones served a dual purpose; they blocked spam emails, but they also educated ISPs and website operators about the problems associated with spam. Over the last 20 years, hundreds of blacklists have appeared, each with its own criteria for inclusion, rules for delisting and standards. Some include only individual domains, but others may include an entire ISP if it has a history of harboring spammers. However, one thing that most blacklists have in common is a lack of transparency. A fledgling entrepreneur or even a large corporation may never know about an appearance on a blacklist. If they find out they have been blacklisted, it can take weeks or even months to discover why and correct the issues. Until now.
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Why Blacklists Are Needed
Initially, spam was little more than junk mail sent electronically. However, there was a lot of it. It seems that millions of people fervently believed that billions of other people truly needed their products or wanted to know what the senders thought. It was common for the holder of an email account to receive dozens or even hundreds of spam messages every day, making it time-consuming and difficult to find legitimate emails.
Over time, advances in technology allowed spammers to become even more insidious. Botnets can now deliver spam messages as well as malware and a variety of scams by taking over and manipulating computers and entire networks. The botnets can use hacked email accounts and the IP addresses of the networks and computers it has infected to generate billions of disruptive emails. Some are used to launch a denial-of-service attack. For example, in February 2010, over 300 websites were hit with DDoS attacks generated by the Cutwail botnet, according to ITBusiness.ca, including the FBI, PayPal, the CIA and Twitter.
How Blacklisting Affects Legitimate Companies
Marketing professionals state that email is their most profitable marketing channel, returning approximately $40 on every dollar spent. However, if emails are being sent to the recipient's spam folder or blocked completely, the ROI will obviously be decreased significantly. Unfortunately, it is not all that difficult to land on a blacklist. An employee can unknowingly introduce a virus by opening an email, a customer may violate use policies out of ignorance, or a hacker can hijack a system to mask illegal activities.
Although this can have a substantial impact on retailers, even nonprofits can find themselves on blacklists. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, more than 12 percent of emails sent by nonprofit organizations never reach an inbox, reducing email fundraising totals by up to 14 percent. Many recipients may be marking the emails as spam, but blacklisting can sometimes be triggered if the ISP notices that emails are never opened or are deleted without being opened.
How To Resolve Blacklisting Issues
Identifying the issues that led to the blacklisting can be complicated enough, but securing removal from the blacklist can add even more layers of complexity. Corporations who manage their own email services as well as email service providers can benefit from Abusix Mail Intelligence, our latest service designed to give email operators better peace of mind, control and visibility. Our service clubbed with Abusix.ai can help you find and correct issues related to blacklists. Abusix provides full visibility into why the IP was blacklisted – you will know what we know. And you get the tools to delist once actions are taken to remediate the issue. Contact us to learn more, or sign up for a free trial today.