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SpamCop To Be Sold To IronPort? 111

Iphtashu Fitz writes "InfoWorld is reporting that SpamCop is about to be sold to IronPort Systems for an undisclosed amount of money. According to the InfoWorld article, the announcement will be made on Nov. 25, and will include IronPort investing $1 million in SpamCop to keep the service up and running. IronPort apparently makes use of the SpamCop DNS blocklist in their spam filtering products and this move is seen as a way to help support SpamCop and formalize their relationship. IronPort is reported as stating that the SpamCop blocklist data will remain freely available to the public."
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SpamCop To Be Sold To IronPort?

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  • by wrinkledshirt ( 228541 ) on Thursday November 20, 2003 @02:07AM (#7517805) Homepage
    InfoWorld is reporting that SpamCop is about to be sold to IronPort Systems for an undisclosed amount of money...

    Hey, I don't know about you, but no price is too small for that great selection of penis enlargement offers they must have at their fingertips.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 20, 2003 @02:07AM (#7517807)
    What about spamcop's mail service? What will happen to people who pay ~$30/year for zero, and yeah, I mean zero, spam? Accounts sold?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      A little birdie told me that webmail is a seperate business and is not part of the spamcop deal. It will remain as-is.

  • by Kris_J ( 10111 ) * on Thursday November 20, 2003 @02:10AM (#7517822) Homepage Journal
    I currently have a SpamCop account, it's my primary address (though I also use Spam Gourmet's aliasing service). Does anyone know if I should start looking for a new email address?
    • Calm down (Score:3, Informative)

      Relax, everytime one service/company gets bought by a bigger one, folks flip out. Yes, sometimes larger companies have sinister motives but most of the time it is in the best interests of both companies and the industry. Corporate backing == more money == better products (hopefully)
      • Look at what happened when Hotmail, a service that provides free e-mail accounts, got bought. Microsoft turned it into a pay service and cut down what had been available to free customers. For example, free customers are more strictly limited in how much they can hold in their inboxes and how large of attachments they can send or receive. Others seem to agree that Microsoft ruined Hotmail [].

    • by nbvb ( 32836 ) on Thursday November 20, 2003 @02:17AM (#7517850) Journal
      No way, the guys at IronPort are fantastic.

      If I've ever met a group of people who understand the Spam Problem, it's them.

      This is *fantastic* news! The guys at IronPort Systems make the best damned mail routers I've ever seen. Bar none.

      Their SenderBase [] and Bonded Sender [] programs are really a lead into solving the SPAM problem.

      Both products integrate directly into the IronPort C60 mail appliances and automatically apply what they call "reputation filters" which let you control SPAM. You can throttle based on the "reputation score" from SenderBase, as well as traditional methods.

      The fact that BrightMail is integrated also is a major bonus.

      Back to the original point, I'd definitely give IronPort a chance here. They're a GREAT group of people (I've met everyone from the CEO on down), understand e-mail, and really want to do the Right Thing.

      Check them out at:

      Unfortunately, my company's rules won't let me give a public testimonial as a satisfied customer, but believe me, if I could, I would!!
      • Is it just me or everytime I see something like the parent post on /. I immediately think "Astroturf" and ignore the hell out of it?

        Eh, mabbie i'm just too damned cynical for my own good. Glad to see i'm in good company, however ;)

        No offense to the parent poster. Just too many years to Microsoft and SCOisms. :wq!
      • They have funded the continued development of Python with continuations, called Stackless [], by hiring the original author part-time.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Let me get this straight...these are the same great guys that produce the IP-shifting, filter-thwarting, 1-million-messages-per-hour email delivery appliance []? Sounds like they provide tools to spammers, then clean up on the other end with filtering tools and services. But I could be wrong.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Yes, they do understand the spam problem quite well, but even Ironport employees call their flagship mail delivery box the 'Spaminator 3000' when they think no one is listening.
      • 'Unfortunately, my company's rules won't let me give a public testimonial as a satisfied customer, but believe me, if I could, I would!!"

        its a good thing those of us in this elite and secret club got to hear you speak (shit what was your codename again), anyway. thanks for the blatant^H^H^H^H^H^H^ helpful info !!
  • by bigberk ( 547360 ) <> on Thursday November 20, 2003 @02:11AM (#7517828)
    Spamcop is one of the blocklists that has been under perpetual attack by spammers. Recently, spammers started a rather major DDoS [] against spamcop and several other services.

    Antispam services that have limited operating resources (such as the now defunct and -- while extremely useful services, simply didn't have the means to withstand major attacks. Those two services had to be shut down because the owners could not deal with the onslaught. Spamhaus, and probably now Spamcop will be able to withstand attacks.

    Kudos to any company that joins in on the spam fighting effort. Also worth mentioning are the good folks at Easynet [], who have been running top-notch anti-abuse DNSBLs that are available to the public.
  • by rborek ( 563153 ) on Thursday November 20, 2003 @02:12AM (#7517831)
    ... and it's generally pretty well filtered.

    However, I would never use the SpamCop blacklist for completely blocking e-mail - only filtering. Why? Any one "possible spam" message processed through its system lands the server on the blacklist - which means one user that sends out a spam message (or even a message that someone thinks is spam or unwanted) that is then processed as spam through SpamCop puts the mail server onto the blacklist. The server will not be removed for a minimum of 24 hours.

    This means that systems that are active against thwarting spammers can still end up on the blacklist for 24 hours (or longer - you can report e-mail for up to 3 days after it was sent).

    • I use the Spamcop BL on my secondary server. Spammers specifically attack secondaries for whatever reason. Maybe they expect it to be less secured. This is a great place to run the SpamCop BL in delete mode.
    • by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Thursday November 20, 2003 @06:33AM (#7518450) Homepage
      Any one "possible spam" message processed through its system lands the server on the blacklist

      That's not quite correct. SpamCop uses a fairly simple, but quite effective weighting system that combines the number of reports and the age of reports to decide whether to block an IP or not. You can find out the specifics here [] if you want, but in a nutshell a minimum of *two* reports are required for a listing of just 24 hours. All IPs will be delisted 48 hours after the last spam complaint, which can be upto 5 days after the last spam was sent, as you imply.

      Yes, mistakes can and do happen (I've seen Amazon and a popular mailing list blocked), which is why SpamCop recommends you don't use it as a DNSBL, but despite that I have found it to be the most accurate blocklist of all. I use three DNSBLs on my server (SpamCop, Spamhaus and my own local one) with an SMTP error verbose enough to pick up bounces. I've seen just *two* false positives, one from a mailing list and another an advert from Amazon. A simple " OK" in my mail config fixed that permanantly, but that's not really an applicable solution for a big multi-user server.

      If that kind of filtering makes you nervous, then a better solution is to configure something like SpamAssassin to check the DNSBLs for you and assign a positive score to the hits. If you adjust your SpamAssassin scores to reflect your personal confidence in each enabled service then the results are superb. For the last three months I've been running with the three DNSBLs listed above blocking IPs outright and SpamAssassin checking about half a dozen more for a match amongst all its other checks, plus a few custom ones and adjusted scores. The results are stunning:

      • Two minor false positives on the DNSBLs
      • Zero false positives from SpamAssassin (you rock!)
      • Three spams of the meaningless content type arrived in my inbox (fixed by tweaking some SpamAssassin scores)
      • A few thousand legitimate emails received
      • Probably a similar number blocked or removed - who cares?
      Spam problem? What spam problem? ;)
  • Undisclosed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lehk228 ( 705449 ) on Thursday November 20, 2003 @02:15AM (#7517837) Journal
    Will the Deal for an undisclosed amount of money be finalized in the undisclosed location that The Vice President was kept in?

    This sounds like a very good thing, IronPort will benifit by being able to tightly integrate SpamCop into hardware and SpamCop will become better due to less downtime due to DDoS attacks
  • Here's the deal.

    SpamCop works on fighting spam. They get an investor.

    Happy day!

    Um...I've read several posts that say IronPorts is a good company, so no worries about current customers being abused - good, so my internal gut feelings about privacy issues are abated.

    I haven't used SpamCop personally, so this is only an impression, however I'm a strict hater of blacklists (blocklists?), and that's how SpamCop is being described.

    I personally opt for SpamAssassin Milter, although any method of plugging into SA would suit me, simply because it's so highly customizable, open source, and I don't have to worry about a list going down or suddenly blocking everyone, which has NEVER happened recently (would have linked to the appropriate /. article, but I'm feeling lazy right now).

    Now am I that far off? Are there redeeming qualities about SpamCop that I'm overlooking that make this blocklist a good thing? Who controls who's blocked? Is it fair? Is there a human contact when things go awry?
    • by silentbozo ( 542534 ) on Thursday November 20, 2003 @03:14AM (#7518000) Journal
      SpamCop publishes a list, but whether it is used for scoring or blocking is completely up to the person receiving the list. For example, you state that you like SpamAssassin - one of the filters that is used by SA to score spam is the SpamCop blacklist. Also keep in mind that publishing this list is only one of the benefits that SpamCop provides. I use the reporting service to report spam (and incidentally, it's these reports that go into the creation of the blacklist.)

      Funnily enough, SpamCop recently incorporated SpamAssassin for the pop/webmail service that they provide.

      As for getting on and off, there is a deputy you can e-mail (a live human being), in addition to the standard set of webforms etc. SpamCop these days is a very benign service (for the most part). The fact that SpamCop is under almost constant attack by spammers trying to DDOS them, trying to overload their systems with fake accounts, etc. tells me that spammers consider SpamCop to be a major threat.
    • Spamcop is a list, not a blocklist, a blacklist, whether you block or tag using this list is your choice, not Spamcops. I personally have Spamcop set in my procmail filter to tag messages from Spamcop listed IPs I'm not crazy about blocking emails using anyone's list.

      Yes there are live people behind Spamcop, I've interacted with a deputy on a few occasions after either erroneous reporting or joe jobs against customers.

      Spamcop is a very handy service and very low key when it comes to getting listed and re
    • As for the taking over of Spamcop I do not really know, money is really good, corporate bozo's making strange decisions after they made something their own can be bad. But for as far the other posts go; no real problem there either.
      As for Black/Block lists I do not really know why everyone makes such a fuss about the block lists.
      I need to elaborate a bit so bear with me.
      A block list is just a specially configured DNS that returns special addresses for servers that chipped in their bit for spam. (Nothing wro
    • Spamcop is a colaberative blacklist. If a Spamcop user (possibly several for checking) reports an email as spam, any further messages that appear to be from the same source get dumped in the "probably spam" pile for a while. To get off the Spamcop blacklist you simply have to not send spam for a short period (I forget how long). Yes, this means if *no one* reports Spam via Spamcop, it soon becomes an empty blacklist or if heaps of people report legitimate mail it gets trapped as spam. Such is life.

      The e

    • I personally opt for SpamAssassin Milter

      You do realize of course that two of the checks in SpamAssassin are for Spamcop and the Ironport Bonded Sender whitelist?

      Now am I that far off? Are there redeeming qualities about SpamCop that I'm overlooking that make this blocklist a good thing? Who controls who's blocked? Is it fair? Is there a human contact when things go awry?

      Spamcop blocks nothing. It simply tells you whether an IP address is on the list and provides you with a URL to use to make the fin
  • My old Yahoo email account was getting ~50 emails a day. I don't know what UIUC uses, but once I started attending here, and switched to my UIUC email, I don't get any spam, at all. Props to anyone who can bring spam-free living to the masses better.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Right now, I believe SpamCop is legally just a private list that a small group of people use for their own personal email filtering purposes, and which they just happen to make available to the public. As such, they are all but untouchable in regards to any legal claims or actions. Should the list's purpose change, their untouchability may also change.
  • Ironport? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jfroot ( 455025 ) <> on Thursday November 20, 2003 @02:59AM (#7517973) Homepage
    From Ironport's Webpage:

    IronPort's Virtual Gateway technology allows a single IronPort to deliver separate campaigns on unique IP addresses. This technology ensures that if one campaign has a problem with less than perfect spam filters at receiving ISPs, it won't impact other campaigns on separate Virtual Gateways. Each IronPort A60 supports up to 256 unique outbound IP addresses.

    Doesn't this sound a but like a spamming appliance? Basically it's saying that if one of your IPs gets blacklisted for spamming, that's ok because it will use a different one automatically.
    • Re:Ironport? (Score:2, Informative)

      by twitchkat ( 566638 )
      Ironport's product is targeted at companies that send tons of emails that they don't consider SPAM -- big companies like Sony or Blockbuster or Merrill Lynch that have huge customer bases who have "registered" to receive mail.

      These big companies' mailservers are often blacklisted as spammers because of:

      - the volume of email they send out,
      - recipients who forget they've opted into receiving mail and report the mail as SPAM,
      - etc.

      IronPort's products are supposed to help these companies out and ensure
    • That was designed for legitimate (usually opt-in) bulk emailers. Services such as CNN news updates and such get block by some SPAM screens. The Ironport product provides a way to get around that, legitimately. Check out "bonded sender" too.
    • Re:Ironport? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Zocalo ( 252965 )
      No. It means that someone legit like Lyris can run two or more different mailing lists on two or more different IPs at the same time on the same box. If one list gets blacklisted accidentally, then the others can carry on functioning. A conventional MTA gateway setup does not offer this by default, although there is no reason why you couldn't configure your favorite MTA to do this.

      True, a spammer could abuse the system, but why would they need too spend the money on the device in the first place? If t

  • I hope the messages they send out to ISPs and mail server owners will still be brief, for our comfort...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Ok... So Ironport has 2 main product lines. One for accepting inbound email for multi-site redundant messaging infrastuctures, the other for blasting out huge volumes of mail for marketing campaigns (ahem, SPAM).

    I did some research on these guys awhile back mainly for their inbound smtp gateway stuff, for a multi-site forwarding mess I'm currently trying to straighten out.

    Now about 3 months ago they announced that they were going to do a deal with brightmail for spam filtering on their inbound mail
    • I mean, they've got one division dedicated to optimizing the throughput of their hardware to deliver the maximum spam/sec

      I'm confused -- should there be a ban on efficient mail gateways or something? Spammers don't have the budget for Ironport boxen. They especially won't have the budget to pay for an Ironport bond, because every single complaint will cost them money.

  • IronPort is reported as stating that the SpamCop blocklist data will remain freely available to the public.

    I'm not holding my breath. This all reminds me of another service which would have been squat without the community supplying massive amounts of data for it initially and making it successful.

    Yup, CDDB. Purchase it, privatize it, charge certain "strategic partners" for access to data, then eventually block out all free clients and make it totally commercial.

    Did Gracenote originally promise to kee

  • IronPort is reported as stating that the SpamCop blocklist data will remain freely available to the public.

    We just redid our email services and started using Spamcop our first RBL use ever and I'm extremely happy that it's blocking 99% of the mass spammers that have hit us for so long. After seeing the logs I was amazed that we get so much. I'll hold of on donations to spamcop until I know my money will be going towards supporting a free RBL service.
  • by Dave21212 ( 256924 ) <> on Thursday November 20, 2003 @08:29AM (#7518766) Homepage Journal

    ...of how effective SpamCop is and how much I trust their system.

    Please notice (above) that I use my addy here at /. with *no obsfuscication* needed. I love it. (And it helps identify a few spams that require manual handling = trapped and reported)

    It's the users that make SC what it is. If IronPort ever goes to the Dark Side, the users will defect and there will be no SC any more ! I trust also that they understand this and that this is a happy day for the SC folks.

  • I'm a very satisfied Spamcop customer and have been for about two years now (my e-mail address in this post's "headers" confirms this, depending on how it's obfuscated).

    At any rate, the only disadvantage I see with Spamcop is its lack of an SMTP server -- you'd think that they could have some kind of authenticated-SMTP included in the package, but that's not the case. Instead, you're advised to "use your ISP's SMTP server". That advice works most of the time, but you do run into some ISPs with SMTP server

    • Re:SMTP Servers? (Score:4, Informative)

      by jbrw ( 520 ) on Thursday November 20, 2003 @10:25AM (#7519369) Homepage
      So, does anyone know of a company that just sells SMTP access?

      fastmail [] will let you use their smtp server for a one time fee of $14.95. which also gets you access to an imap account, web based mail, super good spam filtering, and some other stuff.

      i primarily use them for the smtp server nowdays though.

      and if you sign up and are feeling generous, you can use "jwilson" as the referrer code and i'll get a kickback of a $1 or something. woo! :)

      you may want to go read their official support forums [], with regular appearances from the actual developers/owners of the company, to get a feel for what they offer/how they operate, etc.

      regardless of the smtp server, their web based mail is super nice. go tell your hotmail using friends to sign up to the free fastmail account (sans-smtp access) instead... fastmail will happily suck mail from existing hotmail accounts, so it makes the transition a bit easier.

      • fastmail will let you use their smtp server for a one time fee of $14.95. which also gets you access to an imap account, web based mail, super good spam filtering, and some other stuff.

        Ah -- at first I was concerned about whether it really was "one-time", but it appears that it really is []. However, will Fastmail's SMTP server allow me to send mail from my existing address, or only mails with from *

  • Dear Sweet Crap (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dragoon ( 10644 ) <.robert. .at.> on Thursday November 20, 2003 @10:06AM (#7519200) Homepage Journal
    I'm a former direct-mailer (spammer). Yes, Hate me.

    We had 2 IronPort A60's that we would use to pound mail out like insane pixies who had too much sugar.

    With SpamCop being owned by Ironport.. .dear lord, will this mean for an extended supscription one would get removed from spamcop?

    This obviously would mean the dependance on spamcop to be a serious regulatory company, would be an idiotic assumption.

    Ironport Sells 2 series of devices The A and the C

    the A60 is the flagship of the outgoing mail genre, and the C60 is the flagship for blocking the incoming mail.

    In basic sense, they sell the ultimate spam machine, as well as the ultimate anti-spam machine.

    They're basically Gun Runners, and fairly evil. They will sell you one product to send huge mail campaings, and another to avoid them, its a damn protection racket.

    How is this legal in the us?
  • Good, but.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cheeze ( 12756 ) on Thursday November 20, 2003 @10:10AM (#7519242) Homepage
    ...I think they should have held out for someone like AOL. Picture this: Aol buys spamcop and integrates it into their network. They go, if you don't use our blacklist by middle of next year, you will no longer be able to send us e-mail. That gives a deadline to all of the jokers that are running open relays to get their software configured up or they will not be able to send mail to AOL or anyone else doing business with AOL. That could be a huge self-regulating spam blocker.

    On a side note, I wonder what will happen to the donated mirror servers. If SpamCop gets funding, are they going to still keep using the freebie public mirror servers or are they going to build their own and start paying for colo space? If they are going to build their own and pay for colo space, that will eat in to that $1Mil pretty fast.
  • Ironport makes a living selling hardware that is used for spamming. What other reason is there for a piece of hardware that can send a half a million pieces of mail per hour? Take a look at their products [] for yourself. Bye bye SpamCop. You've just been bought by the enemy.
  • They provide great service. Very easy to set up and no fuss. They filter all of our mail. Very few false positives. It's cheap too. We route all of our mail to spamcop and they tag what they think is spam and send it back to us. It is easy on our side to move the tagged mail into a "Bulk mail" folder. They developed a very fair way to block spammers IP addresses based on compaints and blind email accounts. The scores "age", so if spam stops coming from a IP address, it is taken off the list. They a
  • I stopped using Spamcop when they struck a deal to send data to Cyveillance. Is that going to end?
  • InfoWorld is reporting that SpamCop is about to be sold to IronPort Systems for an undisclosed amount of money...

    why do these frickin' tech guys have to CamelBack EveryThing?
  • by rnews ( 303295 )
    It's rather ironic that Ironport, which makes spam sending appliances, is now going to be behind the two most wildly inaccurate 'spam came from here' lists.

    First, they started with their own '' misfeature. lists addresses in unassigned, reserved, and even multicast ranges as having sent dozens, hundreds or more spam messages. Apparently, they blindly pick up IP addresses forged by spammers in Received headers, and declare the forged IP as the spam origin.

    Second, they'll now
  • "Companies must be judged by capability and not intentions, for intentions can change overnight."
  • Fine; InfoWorld has printed the article. However, per SpamCop [], no official announcement is going to be forthcoming until Monday, the 24th.

    Personally, until I have confirmation from the source, I see nothing that warrants getting my knickers into a twist. As of this moment, the purchase plan is nothing but a rumor; kind of like the official release date for Duke Nukem Forever.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell