One World Telecommunications       http://www.owt.com

Bulk Emailing

One of the most significant commercial uses of the Internet is for marketing purposes. Marketing and other commercial activities are one of the main reasons the Internet offers as much as it does today as inexpensively. As the Internet has evolved many marketing ideas have been implemented in the form of mass mailings - called SPAMMING by Internet purists. This form of marketing is causing an enormous amount of hostility throughout the Internet today. Much of that hostility is being directed at the Internet Service Provider (ISP) that provides service to the sender of these mass emails.

Personally, I am not terribly irritated by mass emails - after all that is what the delete button is for. However, it is becoming clear that this problem is increasing and may someday annoy even the most tolerant. Almost weekly†, we receive hostile emails from throughout the country asking us to terminate the access rights of one of our subscribers as they have trampled their right to privacy. Legally this concept is a bit muddy, but several current court cases will likely define the ISPs responsibility in this matter further.

OWT has never denied service to one of our subscribers for spamming. We have simply asked the subscriber to limit this activity to those who have shown some interest. Subscribers have indicated that they have a very finely tuned "targeted" mailing yet in one such case we received hundreds of complaints anyway. I have had calls from 3 lawyers this week alone and in the past month we have received well over 500 email complaints - many are quite hostile. While the legal position is not terribly well defined at this moment it is now officially a major problem at OWT in that it is taking far too much of our time to deal with. For this reason OWT will be adopting a "three strikes you're out" rule. Three such mass mailings resulting in complaints (not three complaints but three separate mass mailings) and we will be forced to suspend or possibly delete the offenders account.

I would like to address another concern we have regarding mass emails: the impact this can have on our mail server. When thousands of emails hit our server the server, while working very hard, will be able to handle the load (we handle several million messages each month!). However, when a large number of these addresses are bogus or use the wrong format the server will struggle and possibly shut down to protect itself from total destruction. While no mail is lost from this type of problem it is delayed in delivery. Our server software will detect this and automatically suspend the account from which these emails were sent. Regardless of the complaint level, this type of problem will be subject to the same "three strikes you're out" rule. It is very important that bulk mailings have accurate email addresses.

The simple rule to live by is to email only those who wish to be emailed. Simply offering to remove the user from this list if they wish is no longer enough. If you have marketing ideas that you feel can only be implemented by mass emails call us and discuss the situation. We can offer some alternatives, such as list servers and web marketing that should accomplish the same thing without irritating any unsuspecting Internet email customers. I am sorry we have had to take drastic measures but please understand that this problem is currently costing OWT hundreds of dollars each month in wasted labor and is getting worse each week. If you have any further questions email help@owt.com.

Sending To Multiple Recipients

Certainly there are valid reasons for wanting to send a particular Email to multiple recipients.  We do not want to discourage this. However, undersand that a common problem that we must deal with is that all too frequently customer's computers become infected and begin sending out bulk Emails to the customer's address book.  Another major problem is that, for whatever reason, spammers obtain your password and use our mail servers, as if they were you, to send out bulk Emails.  

There really isn't any automated way for us to detect either of these scenarios.  So all we can do is to restrict bulk Emailing in certain ways in general.  Here are the basic restirctions:

  • From out webmail servers you cannot send out and Email to more then 30 recipients at one time.  If you need to do this simply break your list into groups of 30 or less.  
  • If a large number of Email comes from your account in a very short period of time your messages might be flagged for review.  We don't read your Emails but an administrator might examine the recipient list and subject before releasing the batch. This can result in a delay of your Email. We are sorry for this but this is the only way to protect our mail services from malicious activity. 

Why are we forced to take these steps?

Basically the reason we must do this is that so many major Internet providers take a very primitive and brute force approach to preventing spam.  Some have an incredibly low threshold for spam and sometimes if even ONE complaint is made by one of their users against a particular mail server that mail server might be blocked for a short period of time or sometimes until an admistrator of that server contacts the company to promise the spam source has been dealt with.   Virtually all of the local cable and phone company ISPs behave this way and even OWT subscribes to the most common blacklisting services (although our threshold is much higher than most).   So, if a SINGLE account becomes compromised and sends out spam for any reason our outgoing mail servers could be blacklisted.  

What can you do to help?

Over the past two decades we have rarely had a prolem with a customer deliberately sending out unsolicited commercial Email (spam) but we deal with infected computers or coimpromised user accounts on an almost daily basis.  Here is our advice to help minimize this issue:

  • Do not use your OWT password anywhere else.  Each site you use should have a unique password as hackers will obtain your password from one source and try it other places. If they know your Email address they will certainly try it with your Email account.  There are password management software programs that can really help you manage the growing number of passwords we must deal with on a daily basis. 
  • Make sure you have up-to-date and live antivirus and malware detection running on your PC.  Mac users haven't had many issues over time but this could change but even Mac owners should be diligent with sotware updates as they are frequently to patch security holes.  Android has become more of a malware problem but if you are careful where you obtain your software that can really help minimize these issues.  Download only from established stores that have a good reputation. 
  • Be careful where you download!  If you wish to install a program that you feel might be useful understand that it is becoming more common for these installers to contain other installers for trialware or even unrelated software.  Be careful and read everthing so you know exactly what you are getting into and watch for your security software warnings and read them carefully too as often they warn you about ancillary installations you may not even have been aware of. 
  • Use live anti-virus/spyware security software.  The days of simply scanning for virus activity periodically are over.  You must be constantly vigilant and on the lookout for malicious activity. 

Our technical support staff is here to help you with this so please ask us for help you need it.