Emails that fail to reach their intended recipient could be a more serious issue than you think. If your emails suddenly bounce back or you can’t send emails to certain people, you may have been placed on an email blacklist. 

Here’s what you need to know:

What is an email blacklist?

An email blacklist is a real-time database of domain names and/or IP addresses that have been identified as sources of spam or malicious activity. When an email server is added to a blacklist, all emails sent from that IP address or domain are blocked. Internet service providers (ISPs) and email providers like Google usually decide which senders to blacklist. They use various criteria to determine which emails should be blocked, including:

  • Typographical errors in email addresses
  • Higher number of spam reports from recipients
  • Spam trigger words or phrases (e.g., “free,” “win a prize”)
  • High bounce rate (i.e., emails not reaching their intended recipients)
  • Excessive volume of emails
  • Suspicious email content (e.g., unverified links and executable file attachments)

Getting blacklisted is a serious issue for any business. If you’re on a blacklist, your messages won’t be delivered and seen by the intended recipient. Even worse, customers may dismiss your messages as spam, making it difficult to build relationships and trust.

Best practice advice on email blacklisting for small to medium businesses

In an earlier blog, we discussed “4 causes of e-mail blacklisting and how to fix it”. This article covers how to get removed from a blacklist.

Your clients, suppliers or opportunities claim they never received your email. You send it again, but it’s still not getting through. Your emails seem to be lost in the ether. Your company has likely been blacklisted.

How do you know if you’ve been blacklisted?

If recipients say that they aren’t getting your emails, you need to confirm your blacklist status right away. There are a few public services that allow you to check if you’ve been blacklisted, such as MXToolBox and DNS Checker. Simply enter your IP address or domain, and you’ll get a list of blacklists to your email that has been added. In addition to displaying your blacklist status, these services may also explain why you’ve been blacklisted.

Confirm your company appears on one of the many blacklists

More than 100 blacklists are covered within MXToolbox. You will need to input your mail server address. (Generally, the mail server address is  “mail.companyname.com.au” but the MX Toolbox website will help you find it if you do not know.

Short-term workaround

In the short term, you can get your IT provider to configure a smart host to allow email to be sent through third-party mail servers.  This gives you a temporary solution while waiting to get your IP address removed.

Remove from Blacklist

There are several steps you must take to get removed from the blacklist:

1. Identify and address the source of the problem

The first thing you should do is find out why your emails were blocked in the first place. Blacklist checkers will typically provide details about why you were blacklisted, so use this information to identify and correct the specific issue. The source of the problem could be anything from server configuration issues and typographical errors to flawed mass mailing policies and overuse of spam trigger words.

2. Remove malware and other cyber threats from your systems

Often, companies find themselves on email blacklists because of cyber threats. For instance, hackers can hijack your email accounts and distribute phishing scams, getting all communications from your company sent directly to the recipient’s spam folder and the ISP’s blacklist. Malware can also take control of your email servers and send malicious emails or steal contact information.

Regularly monitoring your systems for cyber threats goes a long way. Using anti-malware solutions and next-generation firewalls also helps ensure your systems are free of cyber threats. If you suspect that email accounts have been compromised, reset your passwords immediately and consult with a cybersecurity expert to determine the extent of the issue.

3. Request removal from the blacklist

Once you have identified and corrected the source of the problem, you should contact the blacklisting organisation and request removal from their database.

Each provider uses different algorithms for their blacklists, so the removal process can vary significantly. Most providers will require you to fill out and submit an online form or provide additional documents to prove you’re not a spammer. Meanwhile, some may require you to wait a period before they’ll consider your request for removal. Gmail, in particular, doesn’t disclose how they manage their blacklist, so you could wait over 48 hours to be delisted.

Regardless of the process, it’s important to be patient and persistent when requesting removal from any email blacklist. Don’t be afraid to follow up with the blacklisting organisation if they don’t respond in a timely manner.

4. Whitelist your domain

Whitelisting is a great way to protect yourself from future blacklisting. It’s the process of adding your IP address or domain to a list of trusted senders to ensure that all emails sent from your server will be delivered. Ask companies you work with to whitelist your domain, and verify with your email service provider if you’re included in their built-in whitelisting system.

5. Report scams and security issues

If a security breach puts you on the blacklist, you must report this to Scamwatch and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. Authorities will need details about the breach to investigate the source of the attack and warn other potential victims. Likewise, you should also inform the recipients of any malicious emails and provide them with any necessary instructions to protect their data from further damage.

6. Set up preventive measures

At the end of the day, avoiding getting blacklisted altogether is the best way to protect yourself from any issues. Make sure that your email is protected with strong passwords and two-factor authentication. You should also regularly update your email servers and monitor your systems for any suspicious activities.

Additionally, train your employees on the latest threats and security best practices. This entails teaching them how to recognise malicious emails, avoid suspicious links and attachments, and follow the company’s email and security policies.

Finally, test your emails routinely to make sure all messages are reaching the intended recipients without any problems.

Empower IT Solutions can help your business avoid and deal with email blacklisting. We offer top-quality expertise to protect your business from cyber threats and ensure that emails are received without any issues. Give us a call today for more information.

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