Don't Get Ab-SORBed
by Gary Woods
Recently I had what I consider my all-time interesting tech call. A friend of mine said his email had stopped sending on September 6th at his home. He could receive email but not send it. After several tech calls to Cox and even an onsite visit from one of their technicians he was pronounced both Hunky and Dory by them but unfortunately still no email was leaving the premises.
I then jumped in the Red Sled and went over to his house. My presumption was that being a Mac Guy he was using the Apple Mail Client but indeed that was not the case. He used Cox Business WebMail which for those who don't know allows you to deal with your email online from any browser. The advantage is that no matter where you are you're looking at the same email.
Now this is the part that gets interesting. He could both send and receive email at his downtown office and his associates from their homes and offices could both send and receive email on his account. That meant that the only place on the planet where he could receive but not send was his own home.
At that point with me on site I said let's get Cox on the line one more time. We called Cox and went through a few more diagnostics with them once again pronouncing my friend's system perfectly usable. But, since we were still unable to send email I then recalled one of his previous interactions with Cox had developed the possibility of a Black List.
After a little more conversation and my inquiring if he might be on a blacklist and if so how do we get him off the technician said check out MXTools (http://mxtools.com/Default.aspx). From there we went to a site called SORBS (http://www.sorbs.net/) which stands for Spam and Open Relay Blocking System. When we entered the IP Address of his home office modem it came up that it was indeed blocked starting on September 6th.
Evidently one or more of his 3 machines at the home had acquired a virus that was busily spewing spam onto the internet. I then installed, configured and ran anti-virus software on the 3 Macs which all came up clean. But, on one of the Macs they had Parallels running with Windows XP which, you guessed it, had no anti-virus software. I downloaded AVG Free and ran a scan uncovering and removing 2 Trojans and a Root Kit.
We then put in a call to SORBS and sent them an email to request a review and to see if there is a way to get him un-blacklisted but as of now we still haven't received a call back or even an email. After a couple of days and no response from SORBS we called MXTools and they suggested just changing the IP Address. Since he was on a business account with Cox it was a static IP which means it doesn't change as opposed to the consumer side of Cox which randomly changes your IP Address.
Once Cox changed his IP Address he was once again both receiving and sending email from his home office. So, if you find yourself in a similar position unable to send email try giving your Internet Service Provider a call and request a change of IP address. They'll know what that means.
If you have any suggestions or questions for me please drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or see my column on the Internet at http://www.santabarbaraproperties.com or call me at (805) 729-0910
Gary Woods is the Computer Trainer for the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. And he is a Broker/Associate at Home Realty & Investments, Inc