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Spamhaus and Gmail

Today’s been chock full of phone calls and dealing with clients, but I did happen to notice a bunch of people having small herds of cows because Spamhaus listed www.gmail.com on the SBL.
“SPAMHAUS BLOCKS GOOGLE!!!” the headlines scream.
My own opinion is that Google doesn’t do enough to police their network and their users, and that a SBL listing isn’t exactly a false positive or Spamhaus overreaching. In this case, though, the headlines and the original article didn’t actually get the story right.
Spamhaus blocked a range of IP addresses that are owned by Google that included the IP for www.gmail.com. This range of IP addresses did not include the gmail outgoing mailservers.
Spamhaus says

Some Google-owned server IPs hosting severe malicious spam problems – specifically Google’s “Google Docs” service – do get rightly listed in the Spamhaus SBL when Google does not take action fast enough to stop the serving of malicious sites via Google Docs. Such listings act as pointers to the abused resource but do not in any way affect Google’s Gmail service or any Google outbound mail service.

Spamhaus goes on to talk about the responsibility providers have to police their userbase and the fact that large providers who are not policing their users are cost shifting to the rest of us.

We at Spamhaus surely understand the challenges that the cloud service providers face. These problems are not easy to solve and the scale and complexity of the systems involved certainly does not make things easier. What we are puzzled by is how the rest of the internet has to keep carrying the burden of this abuse. The companies that host these services all without exception make hundreds of millions of dollars each year. They employ some of the best and brightest engineers. Surely they can spend a little of their immense resources on making the internet they rely on for their business, a better and safer place.

Unfortunately, Google doesn’t seem to see any value in policing their customers and users. If they can’t make a buck at it, then it doesn’t get done. And if Google’s costs of doing business are shifted to other companies, so much the better. Good for Spamhaus for standing up and pointedly telling Google they can’t keep supporting spam and spammers.

6 comments

  1. John Levine says

    FYI, it wasn’t “the IP” for http://www.gmail.com — gmail returns different IPs for gmail depending on where you are and Spamhaus listed one of them, presumably by mistake because whoever worked on the listing couldn’t see that the particular IP sometimes had that particular name.
    It’s also worth noting that almost nobody uses the SBL to block web access, so I would be surprised if that listing affected any mail use at all.

  2. Suresh Ramasubramanian says

    Where that listing would hurt is that there is an SA rule that looks for URIs that resolve to SBL listed IPs. http://wiki.apache.org/spamassassin/Rules/URIBL_SBL
    Certainly hurt docs.google.com users at any rate

  3. Mara Alexander says

    FYI: As of March 2011 Spam Assassin’s URIBL_SBL rule is still tagging any email that contains an email address from Gmail, such as what happens when an email is forwarded from Gmail (or even when the email contains just “gmail.com”).

  4. Al says

    The Spamhaus website says:
    74.125.82.43 is not listed in the SBL
    74.125.82.43 is not listed in the PBL
    74.125.82.43 is not listed in the XBL

  5. Sam Watkins says

    I just noticed that a whole lot of Google and Microsoft IPs are listed in the Spamhaus XBL. For example:
    207.46.13.102 msnbot-207-46-13-102.search.msn.com.
    207.46.13.112 msnbot-207-46-13-112.search.msn.com.
    google IP addresses:
    74.125.176.144
    74.125.176.145
    In total, from the machines that have talked to my server in the past few days, I have noticed 8 “msn bot”, one other “msn”, and 21 “google” addresses (without reverse DNS) listed in the XBL.

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