Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Netvigator blocking email sent from tiscali.co.uk?

At the weekend, I discovered that email was not getting through to me from a UK friend who is a customer of a largish ISP, tiscali.co.uk.
I contacted netvigator.com by email to enquire if netvigator was blocking tiscali.co.uk. It would not surprise me... some months ago I read that tiscali.co.uk has 65,000 customers with compromised computers.
Hi-jacked, infected, infested computers ready for use by bored Bulgarian teenagers with a mind for spamming, phishing, pharming, penetrating the Pentagon, and whatnot.
One can only speculate, but tiscali has not been in the best of financial health. Perhaps that is why it has not directed many, if any, of its resources of time, money and manpower, at contacting its customers and taking them through the steps needed to clean up infected computers. Meanwhile, tiscali IP addresses get added to the many public and private block lists around the world.
Netvigator? Like many of telecom companies worldwide that jumped on the internet bandwagon, they were negligent, delinquent even, in their own early days. They may still be on some lists.
But what about my own email to netvigator? No response. Evidently, customer service representatives take a break at the weekend. Monday, I navigated Voice Mail Hell and finally got a live one. Who listened and said he'd pass on the problem to the tech people.
Meantime, I posted here a generally supportive piece about blocking email from offending ISPs. I have been online long enough to remember the first spam, and the frantic efforts by long-time users to pressure ISPs to nip it in the bud. Worldwide, most ISPs would not listen. Spam consequently exploded. Worldwide, ISPs were still slow to act, the worst offenders being telecom companies. It would take too long to explain why that was, just trust me, they were. On-line old timers pressured them, but often to no avail.
As a last resort, about five years ago, some old-timers instituted SPEWS (spam prevention early warning system) . SPEWS is a free service. Many ISPs, however, prefer Spamhaus. Go there to see why. Like SPEWS, Spamhaus offers a free service. Their Register of Known Spam Operations (ROKSO) is also instructive: a comprehensive listing of the low-life that are responsible for most spam.
Major spam sources? Americans based in Boca Raton, Florida, taking advantage of greed and stupidity in China and South Korea. Heh! It's off-shore outsourcing! Consequently much of the world blocks email from those two countries. But back to netvigator and tiscali.
Lunchtime Tuesday, a tech from netvigator contacted me and explained it wasn't netvigator that was blocking email, but mailprove.com
So I deleted my misterbijou post.
Prematurely.
Netvigator are, it appears, being somewhat disingenuous in their explanation: it's not us, it's mailprove.com.
Having looked at mailprove.com -- based at Richard Li's Cyberport in Pokfulam -- it is clear that netvigator are employing that classic Hong Kong ruse -- delegation of responsibility to a sub-contractor. Quite possibly, netvigator are also paying for a service that can be got elsewhere for free. Viz: spamhaus.org. If spamhaus is good enough for British and American government departments, why isn't it good enough for netvigator?
Instead, netvigator customers are paying for a service that can be got for free. And paying the rent for office space at Li's Cyberport. Only in Hong Kong.
My UK friend? He is reasonably tech savvy. The email rejected by mailprove.com includes instructions on how to get himself white-listed [as opposed to black-listed]. We are now back in email communication. For the time being.
Still, it would have been nice if netvigator let us know they use such a system. And it is disingenous for them to say they are not doing it. Like I said, I support email blocking. Email is in a sorry state of affairs, and blocking offenders and delinquent ISPs is the only system that works.
You may wish to check your system for spyware, etc.
I can recommend:
http://www.spybot.info/en/index.html
It is free. Effective. Easy to use.
I have sent the guy a donation.
For virus protection: f-prot.com

1 comment:

robert said...

I can vouch for all of this - I have two friends with netvigator addresses and I am with Tiscali. They are more often than not unavailable - the mailprove route has not been very helpful - I wonder how to whitewash myself?

Interesting to find that my mail joins con artists from Nigeria peddling ill-gotten loot