We are seeing a significant rise in customers’ email accounts being used to distribute spam, having had their account credentials compromised.
In many cases this has been purely down to simple, fairly obvious, passwords being used. Would you believe that we have 276 mailboxes that use ‘password’ as their password? Or 73 with the password 123456?
It’s important for all our customers that we minimise the potential of our mail servers becoming blacklisted, so where patterns of outbound sending indicate a compromised mailbox and the distribution of spam, we will block the account from sending out any further email until the password is changed and a virus scan on the end users equipment performed if required.
This helps mitigate against blacklisting, but isn’t perfect by any means as it’s reactive in nature.
Whilst we can’t improve on the way we identify compromised mailboxes, we can improve the tools we give Partners to re-enable outbound SMTP immediately following a block.
Currently we send out an alert when an account is locked and rely on you contacting us to re-enable. Add to that, any blocking we’ve done has been at account level, rather than individual mailboxes, so one compromised mailbox can lead to outbound emails being blocked for the whole account.
As of Tuesday 27th June we are implementing a new process for dealing with compromised accounts:
- Blocks can now be applied at individual mailbox level, rather than account level. This means that only the affected mailbox will be restricted from sending, rather than all users on that account.
- Our systems will now automatically unlock any affected mailboxes once the user, or administrator, has changed the password.
- Next Tuesday all mailboxes with passwords we deem to be easily compromised (for example, using part of the email address) will be blocked from sending outbound email until their password has been changed. This will only affect a relatively small proportion of our overall customer base, but needs to be implemented as the issue of compromised email boxes is on the rise.
We very much hope you’ll welcome the changes we’ve made which, as well as giving more control to customers in the event their email credentials are compromised, it also encourages everyone to think a little more seriously about the security of their email!