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Maine State Government

Dept. of Administrative & Financial Services

Office of Information Technology

 

BEST PRACTICE USING SPAM LOOKUP SERVICES TO MINIMIZE DELIVERY OF COMMERCIALLY UNWANTED ELECTRONIC MESSAGES THROUGHOUT MAINE STATE GOVERNMENT

I. Statement

The Office of Information will employ active measures to reject messages from known sources of SPAM.

II. Purpose

The purpose of this Best Practice is to document the various techniques and methods of spam lookup services used by the Office of Information Technology. 

III. Applicability

This best practice applies to the Office of Information Technology (OIT); and it will impact all agencies of Maine State Government which use the Office’s email and other electronic messaging networks. 

IV. Responsibilities

A. OIT shall

1. Implement the “block message transfer at the SMTP level” setting for incoming messages from systems/users that are listed on the spam lookup services we use

2. Also periodically evaluate subscribed lookup services and, if appropriate, research and select other lookup services.

B. State employees will notify the Customer Solutions Center whenever they become aware that a legitimate email message is not being delivered.

 

V. Guidelines & Procedures

A. As of June 2006, the OIT uses the following three spam lookup services: 

1. SpamCop:  A free spam reporting service, allowing recipients of unsolicited bulk email (UBE) to report the offence to the sender's Internet Service Provider (ISP), and sometimes their web host. SpamCop uses these reports from its volunteers to compile a DNS block list called the "SCBL."[1]

2. Spamhaus:  The Spamhaus Block List (SBL) targets "verified spam sources (including spammers, spam gangs and spam support services)." Its goal is to list IP addresses belonging to known spammers, spam operations, and spam-support services.  The SBL is a real-time database queriable by mail systems throughout the Internet, allowing email administrators to identify or block incoming connections from IP addresses involved in the sending of Unsolicited Bulk Email.  The list is maintained by the Spamhaus Project team and supplied as a free service to help email OIT administrators better manage incoming email streams. [2]

3. Open Relay Database (ORDB):  A non-profit organization which stores IP-addresses of verified open SMTP relays. These relays are, or are likely to be, used as conduits for sending unsolicited bulk email, also known as spam. By accessing this list, system administrators are allowed to choose to accept or deny email exchange with servers at these addresses.[3]

B. The OIT’s anti-spam software checks to see if the connecting IP address of an email message is on one of the spam lookup services the State government uses.

C. If the IP address of an email message is on a spam lookup service, the message is rejected during the SMTP session.  This means that the anti-spam software does not accept the message.  For example, it may respond with “550 spam access denied; ip 221.193.244.4; see sbl-xbl.spamhaus.org.”  As a result the sending server is responsible for sending back a non-delivery report to the sender.

D. If the sender is a legitimate contact or customer trying to send email to us, they will receive the non-deliverable message and will contact the State employee they are trying to email by phone or US mail. 

E. If an employee is informed that the initial attempt to contact them by email has failed, s/he will notify the OIT Customer Solution Center, who will inform the Enterprise Messaging Service Team.

F. The Enterprise Messaging Service Team will research the situation to determine an appropriate course of action.   If the Team needs additional information, or determines the sender’s company or entity is listed on a spam lookup service, which caused their message to be undeliverable, the team will contact the sender.

VI. Definitions

1.      Spam LookUp Service - Internet services that “blacklist” known spammers by publishing their IP addresses. The published list is constantly updated.

2.      Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) - SMTP is the de facto standard for email transmission across the Internet. It is a relatively simple, text-based protocol, where one or more recipients of a message are specified (and in most cases verified to exist) and then the message text is transferred.

VII. References

1.      SpamCop ( http://www.spamcop.net )

2.      Spamhaus ( http://www.spamhaus.org )

3.      ORDB (http://ordb.org/about/Relay)

4.      Policy to Minimize Delivery of Unwanted Commercial Electronic Messages throughout Maine State Government http://www.maine.gov/oit/oitpolicies/index.htm

VIII. Document Information

1.  Document Reference Number:     3.4

 

2.  Category:     Internet, Network and Transport

 

3.  Adoption Date:     August 10, 2006

 

4.  Effective Date:     August 10, 2006

 

5.  Review Date:       August 10, 2009

 

6.  Point of Contact:   Sandra Saunders, Maureen Tuttle and Lori Blier, Enterprise Messaging Team, Applications Services, Office of Information Technology

 

7.  Approved By:   Richard B. Thompson, Chief Information Officer

 

8.  Position Title(s) or Agency Responsible for Enforcement:   Kathy Record, Associate Chief Information Officer, Office of Information Services

 

9.  Legal Citation:

 

10.  Waiver Process:



[1] Source SpamCop: http://www.spamcop.net

[2] Source Spamhaus: http://www.spamhaus.org/sbl/index.lasso

[3] Source Open Relay Data Base: http://ordb.org/about/