What is a Blacklist?

To put it into perspective the blacklist is a list of IP addresses that have been involved in shady activities. It includes sending spam emails, forwarding viruses and the list goes on. There are two types of blacklists i.e. internal and external.

Internal: It is a blacklist that is maintained by mailbox providers such as Gmail and Yahoo. It means that such lists are always populated by such email service providers.

External: These are the lists that are maintained by third-party providers. In such scenarios, the mailbox providers use the services of external parties to blacklist an IP. In all such cases if you want your address to get delisted then you can contact the third party service instead of a mailbox provider. 

Different criteria are set up by different service providers to blacklist the IP addresses. These can include but are not limited to the factors mentioned below:

  • Technical Listings: If the mail server is not configured properly then such bans could be imposed. It ranges from IP address operating within a suspected list, DNS configurations, incorrect banner greetings and the list goes on.
  • Policy Listings: This is because the receiving end does not want to get emails from certain IP addresses or countries that do not allow them to embed the unsubscribe requests.
  • Evidence-Based Listings: This mostly happens when there is evidence that the sending IP address has been indulged in malpractice and they have sent unsolicited emails in the past as well. 

Email service providers need to protect their users from spam emails and for this, there are several factors including the IP address that is taken into consideration. Other factors include email body and the type of headings used to name a few.

If the IP address that was used to send the email has been blacklisted then the mailbox provides take immediate action to drop the email entirely. Before this, the email can also be put through various filters as well.

To make sure that your IP address is not blacklisted you need to check the IP against a large number of IP addresses. The list is also updated regularly and check can be done periodically to keep the status of your IP updated. If in case the IP is blacklisted then you should find ways to delist it.

IP Blacklist Removal Process

There are 4 steps to delisting the IP address. 

  1. Discovery: You first of all need to find out whether your IP address is blacklisted. Pay attention to the notifications that you receive in this regard to know the exact status. It includes customer complaints, low deliverability, bounce rates, and the list goes on.
  2. Evaluation: The impact always depends on the type of blacklist your IP is on. Some may restrict your emails entirely while others may not affect your email address.
  3. Starting Delist Process: Once you have found that the IP has been blacklisted you need to formulate a plan to start the delisting process. Most of the time you can find the process on the website of the blacklisting service. Make sure that you are polite and cooperative throughout the process.
  4. Solve the Problem: Once the issue has been identified take measures to resolve it soonest possible. Once done contact the concerned authority and let them know that the issue has been fixed completely. Resolve the issue amicably to get your IP delisted completely and get your privileges back.

Is the Delisting Necessary in the case of Blacklisting?

The effect of the IP blacklist is not equal. 

  • A real-time blacklist is not permanent in most cases and the IP address can get off and on this list 
  • A major blacklist is something to worry about especially Spamhaus. This list is notoriously difficult to get off of. The listings such as SORBS and UCEPROTECT are something that is not that difficult to deal with. This is important that the deliverability score is also gauged constantly during the process to keep an eye on the email campaigns. 

The large mailbox providers make use of the Spamhaus listings and these as described before are very difficult to deal with. The smaller services make use of the local listings and delisting from these is not a huge task at all. 

The few questions once you get blacklisted are as follows:

  1. How hard is it to get off the blacklist?
  2. You are constantly on the blacklist or popping in and out of it
  3. Is there any email delivery issue being faced while being on the IP blacklist?
How to know if the email deliverability is getting affected

How to know if the email deliverability is getting affected? 

If you get a bounce notification then there is a possibility that your IP blacklist is hampering emails. The notification will also get you the link to the blacklist services. It will be something like “Message rejected due to IP [0.0.0.0] listed on RBL [X]”. It means that the IP blacklist is getting your emails rejected on any server. If such notification is not received then it is most likely that your email services are working fine and without any issues or problems. 

My IP has been blacklisted, now what?

The two main scenarios according to which you will have to design your plan are as follows:

Email service providers such as MailChimp and the SMTP providers such as Amazon SES have a pool of IP addresses that are used to send emails. These pools are closely monitored and the users are less likely to face an issue as the companies work closely with the blacklisting companies to make sure that the issues are resolved completely. Most of the time these are the services such as SORBS and UCEPROTECT so dealing with these companies will not be a problem for the service provider

If you are using these services and get into the issue of blacklisting then there is nothing to worry about as the ESP or SMTP service will get all the issues resolved on your part. 

If you do not want the issue to affect your daily operations then it is advised to get to your SMTP or ESP and ask for a dedicated IP address. Start campaigns from that IP address and develop the sender’s reputation altogether. 

First of all, identify the seriousness of the issue and whether it is hampering your email-sending feature. If this is the case then you need to seriously work on the issue resolution.

If the service blacklisting is small then there is no need for any action and simply disregard the listing completely. If the listing is large then you need to closely monitor the issue and work with the listing to get a solution to your problem. 

You can run a blacklist check or visit the blacklist website to check your IP and the restrictions that are associated with it. You will find the general blacklisting reasons but in most of cases, it will never mention the email addresses on which the ban is imposed. 

Once the issue is identified you need to contact the listing owners to resolve the issue amicably. You might be asked to get the issue resolved by correcting the forward and reverse DNS records and the SMTP banners to correctly configure your email account. In most cases, you are required a technical helping hand to get the issue resolved if you are not well-versed on the subject.

Make sure that you also check all the software programs installed and take steps to remove viruses completely. You can also reconfigure the systems and change passwords to stronger ones. The internet routers are also to be reconfigured so that the connections become securer and the IP blacklisting issue is resolved completely.

Once all the issues are resolved make sure that you go to the IP blacklisting website and follow all the instructions to post a request. There are two types of blacklist removals.

  • Self-Removal: With this type, the delisting of the address for the first time is not a problem at all. But if this happens for the second time then the process becomes harder and it does not remain easy to get the work done.
  • Time-Based Removals: It is an automated process where you are restricted as per the severity of the issue. If you are listed for more than once then the period could be longer. 

Always cooperate with the blacklisted company to get out of the issue. Follow their processes and if the problem is caused out of mistake then let them know. Let them know about the issue in detail so that they make the process easy for you to follow. You can also call the blacklist maintainer and resolve the issue that way if the online way does not work out for you.

Check whether your IP is in the blacklist

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The Bottom Line

Spam is a problem that can cause you a fortune so for the same reason email service providers are very serious about the issue. If your IP has been blacklisted reach out to DNSBL services to make sure that you get to resolve the issue soonest possible. Some have automated removals once the spam campaigns end and others have stricter policies. Make sure that the issue for which you were blacklisted is never repeated at all as second-time forgiveness is not possible in most cases.