Blog Archive

Friday, January 27, 2012

Email Upgrade, What We've Learned And What You Need To Know

If you’re a subscriber to our Facebook page or Twitter feeds, you already know much of the information in this post, but the information is important enough to repeat. On Monday night we installed our new e-mail server, and while the transition went well overall, there were some small issues that need further explanation. This post will provide that information.

Since the transition, some customers have been experiencing problems with returned e-mails; sometimes getting a message along the lines of “unfortunately this message can’t be sent,” and a link to a site called Spamhaus. Spamhaus is a site that collects e-mail information from servers around the world in order to determine the sources of unwanted “spam” email. A list is then published and made available to providers, like the EPB, who can then use the list to determine how to block the spam by “blacklisting” the networks that allowed the spam to be sent and, thus, keep the system running efficiently. It is a great system, and without services like it, we would all be drowning in a flood of junk e-mails. Typically the report is generated by Spamhaus detailing the problem, and the problem can be easily fixed. The provider (in this case the EPB) then simply requests to be removed from their “blacklist,” so that everything returns to normal quickly. Usually this causes a short inconvenience for a few customers and is corrected before anyone even notices.

However, like all things automated, Spamhaus too occasionally breaks, which is what has happened over the last few days. They have placed the EPB on a “blacklist” but gave us absolutely no reason, so we have, in effect, been searching for the needle in the haystack. To make matters worse, Spamhaus is located in England, and they do not have 24 hour support. We immediately engaged Linux Magic, the manufacturer of our new e-mail server, for assistance. We have been working with them the past few days trying to resolve this problem and ensure we are no longer “blacklisted.”

One problem we discovered is that several glasgow-ky.com e-mail accounts had been compromised and were being used by people from out of the country to use our e-mail server to send out spam all over the internet. We have now disabled these accounts and are monitoring the server for more of these. Another problem was found in that some customers had viruses and were also sending out e-mails. These problems were uncovered as a result of our attempts to provide a more user friendly e-mail system for those individuals who use their cell phones for e-mail services.

Our team has worked around the clock since Monday night to resolve these problems. We, along with Linux Magic, continue to monitor the server in our best efforts to prevent any further disruptions in what we feel certain is a superior e-mail product.

Another common question that has been asked by our customers, is “why does the new mail server show that it has blocked 30 spams, but I only see 4 of them in my spam folder?” A very basic answer to a complicated process, each e-mail is rated with a 1 to 10 rating as it passes through the anti-spam system. If you have whitelisted this sender, the e-mail will pass on through. A rating of 1 - 3 will result in the e-mail being delivered. A rating of 3 - 5 will place it in your “spam” or “quarantine” box, depending upon the interface you are using. A rating of 5 or above will block it at the server. The only spam e-mails you will see are the ones with a 3 – 5 rating. Barracuda operated in the exact same manner, it simply didn’t notify you about those 26 e-mails that were blocked with a 5 or above rating. If you want to view your spam with the 3 – 5 rating, simply log into either of the webmail clients and look at your spam folder. You can then move those e-mails, or click on the button in the right hand corner of e-mail pane to whitelist the sender so they will always be directed to your inbox.

As always, if you need any help or have any other questions, please feel free to give us a call at 651-8341 or send an e-mail to email_upgrade@glasgow-ky.com, and we will do our best to help you. And, if you are reading this information for the first time, please consider becoming a fan of the Glasgow EPB on Facebook, as information pertaining to this upgrade, outages and other important issues is constantly updated. Just click on http://www.facebook.com/glasgowepb.

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