Australian ISP's Spam Solution: Block Gmail Messages

from the now-there's-an-idea dept

You might remember that some time ago, Verizon tried a novel way to cut down on the amount of spam its customers received — by blocking most foreign email. Though it eventually dropped the policy (after a lawsuit), the company’s anti-spam practices still leave a lot to be desired. Meanwhile, over in Australia, incumbent telco Telstra was blocking messages sent from Gmail, claiming Google doesn’t do enough to stop spam being sent from the service. Rather than being a fair indictment of Gmail, this simply sounds like an admission that Telstra’s simply not up to the task of adequately dealing with spam — after all, it’s hard to see how simply blacklisting messages from such a large email provider could really be seen as an adequate solution. If anything, it will just drive users away from Telstra’s service and to Gmail.


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Comments on “Australian ISP's Spam Solution: Block Gmail Messages”

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26 Comments
Patti says:

Actually

My experience with Google (gmail and google groups) is that they don’t do an adequate job of blocking spam originating from there. I get spam directly from gmail on a regular basis, and Google basically refuses to do anything about spam that they send to Usenet via their groups interface.

In the past, other large providers of free email (Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.) have spent plenty of time on blocklists due to being notorious spam sources. I can’t see any reason why Google should be immune to this. Using RBLs, homegrown or otherwise, is an established technique for dealing with spam, and is certainly not an indication that an ISP isn’t up to the task. Rather, it’s an indication that the ISP is tackling the issue using industry best practices.

Robbo the wonder spaniel says:

Telstra, aka Bigpond, aka Bigpong, aka Bugpond, aka Cesspool are the kind of joke you’d expect in a monopoly driven market. This kind of genius hamfisted kneeJERK reaction is par for the course with Tel$tra. Theres really nothing surprising here … move along … 😉

For some insight into the nonsensical happenings in ISPland in oz, check out http://www.whirlpool.net.au.

Infested Templar says:

Typical of Telstra

I come from Australia so I know how bad Telstra is and this sounds just like them. Telstra owns the basic telecommunications network but fortunately the ACCC (Australian competition and consumer commission) forces then to resell their services wholesale not much above cost, and to allow competitors to install their own equipment in exchanges as well, usually for ADSL2 etc just using the “last mile” of copper as you call it so we sort-of have competition.

Our family was on a $60 per month “Unlimited”* 256k plan (10GB limit after which you were shaped to 64k but this was publicly shown if not advertised and they are no longer allowed to call the plan unlimited anyway). I convinced my family to switch to a competitor reselling Telstra ADSL at $30 for 512k and 33GB downloads – half the price 3x the downloads, 2x the speed…. the competitor also responded to my email in 20mins on a Sunday compared to 9 days for Telstra.

Also with Gmail I it’s spam filtering has been letting a lot more through (say about 15-20 per month out of about 3700) but I checked 50 of my spam box and none were from any free email provider I have ever heard of, let alone Gmail – typical results – private domain names only as far as I can tell.

4playR says:

eh?!

I am a big fan of Gmail, so u may discount my opinion to about 60% of its content’s worth. The thing is that my Gmail account, in spite of being in existence ever since Google started offering it, has worked just fine.

No spam, if u dont count the couple that trickle off the spam filter once every bluemoon. I do not know if any of you subscribe to a group and therefore the grp is compromised, but i can assure u i am a member of a coupple of groups myself, but have never recieved one single spam.

I dont know waht the fuss is all about. are u guys creating a big deal out of nothinhg? In sharp contrast, my Yahoo! account is totally screwed up with all sorts of junk, esp. Viagra Hawkers and people selling sex for free or sommat… but hell, by gmail works just fine. and even if u guys say that gmail’s spam filter aint effective, i cont possibly fathom y u would want to compare it with Yahoo!’s spam filter cuz it sucks donkey’s nads.

Infested Templar says:

Re: eh?!

Oh I wasn’t comparing Gmail to any other provider, when I had Hotmail I would either have 99% of spam in my inbox or all emails except from contacts in the spam folder. What I meant was that it’s been letting some spam through, maybe 0.5% of it compared to hotmail but to start with it let through no spam at all – and no false positives (not that it has false positives now but Hotmail certainly did)

And to dorpus I actually played Baseball for a couple of years as a kid and although probably most Australians despise George Bush I suspect that is the same in the US, we are certainly not as anti US as the EU, if at all. It’s just our monopoly telco being stupid as usual, I doubt they have the brains to realise Gmail come from the US even….

Howard Lee Harkness (user link) says:

My solution to spam...

I have two domains (that I got via http://www.texas-domains.com, where I also got my other 10 domains), and I use gmail to get all of the email from one of those domains, then I get the filtered emails from gmail via the 2nd domain. The first email address is exposed to the public (list subscriptions, usenet postings, etc), the second is never used for anything else other than to fetch mail from the gmail account, and I have the filters in my Portable Thunderbird mail/news reader for the 2nd domain set to trash anything that DOESN’T come from my gmail account.

Pretty effective, and the best of both worlds. Gmail’s spam filtering is about the best I’ve ever used. Offline, I have Portable Thunderbird’s archive of all my important email and newsletter subscriptions, online, I have gmail’s search facility and access from just about anywhere (other than work, which doesn’t allow any web-based news/mail services at all). I haven’t used any of my ISP’s email addresses in nearly 7 years (during which time I’ve had to change ISPs 4 times), and having my email independent of my ISP has been a MAJOR convenience with minimal cost.

I got a few false positives for a while, but gmail’s spam filtering (which I think is partially based on a Bayesian filter) has gotten good enough that I haven’t seen a false positive in a long time. I do occasionally see a spam that slips through, but they are trivial to spot, and marking them works to improve future filtering.


Violins and Accessories

Andy says:

Never seen spam from Gmail

I personally have never seen any spam originating, or even purporting to originate from Google Mail, and I have had tons of the stuff in one email system or other. I’m not even sure how Patti can claim to get so much spam from Gmail as it takes some effort to identify the true source of a spam email, you can’t just look at the claimed “from” address, that is easily faked.

coward says:

Re: Never seen spam from Gmail

Received: from hu-out-0506.google.com (hu-out-0506.google.com [72.14.214.235]) by sienna.pobox.com
(Postfix) with ESMTP id 4886898 for ; Fri, 11 May 2007 09:15:11 -0400 (EDT)
Received: by hu-out-0506.google.com with SMTP id 31so1075871huc for ; Fri, 11 May
2007 06:15:10 -0700 (PDT)
DKIM-Signature: a=rsa-sha1; c=relaxed/relaxed; d=gmail.com; s=beta;
h=domainkey-signature:received:received:message-id:date:from:to:subject:mime-version:content-type;
b=RA6b8MsNj4BCiYgcKAehyM09jDbgaS7eFCfGEJ1yDucbLuyQh2galCwdCj/6Kwswb+YpreXeC+rFiPIjs3TliFtVHUDyKRQYIUTJvX2QyK22tQetOl23+yxdgZ60F2bLxgvGGpOhsaczhjIA+q6TUaZrLezGWUUod5zaqEtAvSQ=
DomainKey-Signature: a=rsa-sha1; c=nofws; d=gmail.com; s=beta;
h=received:message-id:date:from:to:subject:mime-version:content-type;
b=e+mn8kr7LK1E8bEsElbCxdmqwTsMxn+R1jfQaz1qpS9+o2GaP9EngrsRKnq5idFbG6YFdrE7ULP+fW0wY8DJA6sb4mWZRUG5mWuMJ/BYNY03toRuqgaX2soX1jlcQMiuuXvbLm+ZsAHgFyq7vZVbZQqhm8P2Oaa44dwiLQ9lUUQ=
Received: by 10.82.118.2 with SMTP id q2mr5475550buc.1178889256577; Fri, 11 May 2007 06:14:16 -0700 (PDT)
Received: by 10.82.158.18 with HTTP; Fri, 11 May 2007 06:14:16 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID:
Date: Fri, 11 May 2007 21:14:16 +0800
From: “Alice Alice”
To:
Subject: [!! SPAM] HELLO Dear friend!
MIME-Version: 1.0
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V6.00.2900.3028
Content-Type: multipart/mixed;
boundary=”—-=_NextPart_000_0003_01C79422.C0A6E330″

Would you like to promote yourself/your company through a very
significant and innovative way?

AlbinoRhino says:

How Retarded Is This?

This is idiotic. I have two email accounts. Both are with google. One is for registering things online, the other is for close friends and family. The only spam I receive is in my friends and family when they fwd me some dumb ass joke or image they find funny. Blocking a provider is ignorant. Have they blocked yahoo and hotmail? Why not just let people get mail strictly from their own provider and get it over with already.

Another anonymous coward says:

It's about the outbound, not the inbound

Remember, folks, this is about GMail *sending* spam — there seems to be no doubt that its inbound spam filters are ace; it’s the fact that it’s happy to chuck out spam and then, when you send e-mail to “abuse” to get an IP trace, they refuse to cough it up. I’ve been there.

Of all the free e-mail providers, aren’t GMail the only ones not to put the true originating IP in a header somewhere? Am I wrong on this?

Jim says:

Re: Re: Re: It's about the outbound, not the inbou

What the poster asking about originating headers was talking about is when email is SENT from Gmail. They strip the senders IP address from the headers. This keeps people that filter on the original header from checking it, which is very effective in stopping the kind of spam that GMail is used for so much these days…specifically Nigerian spam.

Patti says:

Outbound, not inbound

As anonymous pointed out, it’s about outbound email not inbound. What shows up in the spam folder of your gmail account has nothing to do with what is originating from gmail. I manage a mailserver, and I pay careful attention to the inbound spam that it receives.

And yes, gmail is the only free email provider that refuses to put an originating IP header in their outbound email. This further hampers the ability of other mail hosts to filter spam originating from gmail, as they can’t do originating IP-based filtering.

And yes, it takes some work to identify the true source of spam, but it’s not terribly difficult. In fact, for those who can’t read mail headers themselves, spamcop will do it for you with a reasonably high degree of accuracy. I was director of ops for an email company in a past life, so I’m quite competent at tracing my own headers.

Patti says:

Coward, it’s not that gmail lets you view mail headers when you use gmail. We’re not talking about the gmail UI, but what gmail perpetrates on the rest of the internet.

Most free email providers provide an X-Originating-IP: header so that you what machine injected the mail originally. Gmail doesn’t provide that on its outgoing mail, so if spam originates from gmail I have no way of knowing whether it came from an AOL IP address, an ISP in Hong Kong, or whatever. Other free email providers put this information into the header when they send mail, and this provides other mail admins with additional opportunities to block spam.

Ody says:

Telstra's just pissed off because Gmail is a bette

Telstra offers email services.
If the company decides to abandon a few servers, their clients find – No one tells them. – their email addresses are invalid.
Telstra does no email forwarding.

Along comes Gmail, where the service ismore reliable than anything Telstra offers; more features; and it’s freely accessible anywhere on the Net.
Telstra will do anything it can to degrade or block Gmail.

In most western countries, such actions would be illegal. But this is Australia and Telstra’s actions are supported by the Internet-phobic government.

Neil says:

Gmail

Late to the party but I’d like to comment.

I’d say Telstra is just in its indictment of Gmail.

After a good start, my Gmail now is hit with a minimum of 10 to 30 spam emails daily.
In my main email account through Apple’s superb program Mail I only see one or two rogue emails per month.
Gmail is utterly hopeless and nobody can give me any good answers.

Oh, and the poster ‘Infested Templar’ up there is like most haters, he just uses every opportunity to inject some spiteful comment no matter how inappropriate the forum. He’d blame George Bush for his ingrown toenail if he though anyone would take him seriously.

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