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  1. #1
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    Default outgoing email from php script blocked by westhost

    all of a sudden, one of my sites has an issue where westhost is blocking outgoing email from one of their scripts with a 550/spam block.
    all bounces go back to site admin login.

    the email is from a store where a student emails his/her self (no mass/batch emails here!) with text about a fundraiser and a link to buy from storefront with embedded code so that the student gets credit for the sale. the students then, in turn, FWD the messages from their respective email clients to whomever they want. yes, it may look like spam, but that is the nature of the beast. it is a legit fundraiser so asking someone to buy something is required and emailed on request to an email address that wants it. and for heaven's sake - it is candy or gift wrap - it is not rolex or viagra!!!

    i did not ask for this block, don't want it, and i should not have to tell the website owner that all of a sudden they cannot send emails from their site for fundraising.

    how to turn this off???

    it is not a site application (this is WH3.0), nor is it anything in /etc/mail/sendmail.cf or sendmail.mc as far as i can tell.

  2. #2
    Moderator wildjokerdesign's Avatar
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    I don't think it is the WestHost server that is blocking them or at least not sure how they would since there is no device set up that I know of on the SiteManager (WH 3.0) servers that would do that. What can happen is that email sent from your account on a WH server could be blocked by other servers. That could result in a bounce back message to the email connected to the site admin login as you describe it but like I said this is coming from other severs not the WH ones. Does this account have a dedicated IP or is it a shared IP with other sites? That would be one of your first steps actually is to check and make sure the IP is not blacklisted with any services. Here is one such service you can check that through. http://mxtoolbox.com/blacklists.aspx If you find the IP listed you have to follow the chain to the service that is blacklisted it and figure out their process for getting it unlisted. Actually if the site is on a shared IP that is going to be a lot harder to do. If you can get a hold of one of the bounce back email notices you may even be able to get a hint of if this is the case since often the email will state the name of the service an IP or domain is blacklisted with.

    You can try adding an SPF record to your site. With Site Manager accounts you have to get support to do this for you. http://www.openspf.org/ follow the instructions on the site to determin the record you want to ad and then contact WH with that bit of code and ask them to add it for you. As a rule the basic defaults (v=spf1 a -all) work just fine.
    Shawn
    Please remember your charity of choice: http://www.redcross.org

    Handy Links: wildjokerdesign.net | Plain Text Editors: EditPlus | Crimson

  3. #3
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    it is westhost that is blocking. logs confirm it (have logging enabled). no external servers involved. it never gets out to the net for SPF or my IP to become an issue.
    WH tech support confirmed yesterday that they indeed are blocking. some new "feature" they put in. now i just need to turn it off!

  4. #4
    Moderator wildjokerdesign's Avatar
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    Ah... well that is something you'll have to get WestHost to deal with I am sure. I had not heard of this new feature. In fact not even sure what it would be. It is kind of a backward approach it seems to me. I am sure there is some way they will be able to override it. It might take some time to sort out with them though. The more information you can feed to them about it the better. That is make sure they are aware of email used to send the PHP script you are using ect.

    Did they give you any indication of what this feature is that they are using? A name? Rather it is just working with PHP mailers or sendmail itself. The reason I ask is that if I can figure out what it is they are using perhaps I can research and figure out something that maybe you can do on your end. Never hurts to have more eyes focused on the issue.

    Might be something in the email you got back from the server that would give some indication. If you want to PM me a copy I would be willing to give it a once over.
    Shawn
    Please remember your charity of choice: http://www.redcross.org

    Handy Links: wildjokerdesign.net | Plain Text Editors: EditPlus | Crimson

  5. #5
    Moderator wildjokerdesign's Avatar
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    Oh also is the store you are using and the system for emailing out a common one? I could research that end also.
    Shawn
    Please remember your charity of choice: http://www.redcross.org

    Handy Links: wildjokerdesign.net | Plain Text Editors: EditPlus | Crimson

  6. #6
    Moderator wildjokerdesign's Avatar
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    Chatted with tech support and it seems that the filters have been in place for about a year now. I must not write very suspicious mail never noticed any change.

    Did you create a support ticket on this or just use phone or chat? If you did not create a ticket I would. Keep working with them to see if you can get the content of the sales pitch modified so perhaps it is not caught by the filters. From the details I did get it sounds like perhaps there is really no override or off switch but who knows. I was not chatting with an admin just a normal tech. Maybe with a support ticket WH can delve into it more and find something. Also although it might be bad practice to show someone how to avoid the filters they may be able to give you some guidance on modifying the content itself. This would actually be an advantage over all since if the WH filters catch the emails before they even leave chances are they are getting by filters on other servers and getting dumped into junk folders, discarded or refused. If you just turned off the switch here that would not help things on the other end.
    Shawn
    Please remember your charity of choice: http://www.redcross.org

    Handy Links: wildjokerdesign.net | Plain Text Editors: EditPlus | Crimson

  7. #7
    Moderator wildjokerdesign's Avatar
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    Sorry just had another thought.... It could actually be the PHP program that you are using the is causing the catch by the filters. Filters check not only text of emails and the subject but they quite often check the headers of the email. It is not uncomnon for such PHP programs to add to the header that it was generated by the PHP program. If this is a commonly used opensource program and it does that and it is also used by spammers to send out spam emails or has a security leak in the program it is possible it has caused the header information to be added to filters. That may be why it is just now starting to happen when the filters have been in use for a year or so. Filters till rely on a list that is constantly being updated.

    You want to make sure that one, the PHP program you are using is up to date and has no security issues. Two if this program is the issue you might want to look at another way of sending out these emails. That could be a big headache but may be the only really fix in the long run. The spammers are always evolving which means we have to also.

    Again if you want to PM or email me (I can give you my email in a PM if you want) a copy of the rejection email and or the email that is sent out I can scan it for issues. I would want to get a look at the headers that are sent out via the PHP program. This where I could see if it ads anything.
    Shawn
    Please remember your charity of choice: http://www.redcross.org

    Handy Links: wildjokerdesign.net | Plain Text Editors: EditPlus | Crimson

  8. #8
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    I have an open ticket with WH support on this. Apparently it is the context of the email text and/or subject lines that triggers this. the WH tech has not shared the details of how/where these blocks are happening so I am in the dark on a lot of this.

    From what I can tell, though, the email hasn't changed in years so I don't know how this WH feature could be in for over a year already.
    I have asked the site admin (I am the reseller) to see if he can change the text and/or subject of the email. I am waiting to hear back, don't know if they know how to do this themselves or if they need their programmer to do.

    Being that this is not a shared IP, i'd just as well get westhost out of the loop and if the site sends stuff that gets them blacklisted, it is up to them to fix. I still don't think its any of westhost's business and if they want to offer such a "feature", make it optional so it can be turned off in situations like this.

  9. #9
    Moderator wildjokerdesign's Avatar
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    Just like your desktop computers with a program like Avast or Norton the filters are constantly being updated so I assume that is the case here. Filters got updated and the new test triggered the action.

    WH has to try and protect the reputation of the block of IP's and servers that they own. That is why the filters are used. One spammer on a server can cause an entire block of IP's to get listed which would affect other clients. They are trying to protect those other clients.
    Shawn
    Please remember your charity of choice: http://www.redcross.org

    Handy Links: wildjokerdesign.net | Plain Text Editors: EditPlus | Crimson

  10. #10
    Moderator wildjokerdesign's Avatar
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    My mind just keeps going back to this issue. I figured a way they could actually bypass the WH filters and one other idea you might want to pass on to them.

    First they could actually use a mailto link to pipe the information directly to the persons email program thus taking the server out of the loop! This would have the added advantage of reducing a bit of resource usage on the account itself actually. If they have a programmer or developer he should know how to do this but here is a link to the basics of how it is done. http://www.echoecho.com/htmllinks11.htm The backend PHP program could take information entered by the client and then print out the link for them that they clicked on. Actually could also bypass the need to click even but I'll leave that up to their developer.

    My second suggestion would actually be worth implementing even is they continue with their current set up. They should look at leveraging the power of FaceBook via thier API. https://developers.facebook.com/docs...script/FB.api/ The same content that is in the email could be set up to be sent to a persons FB page as a post. This might actually increase their revenue since it give the sale the potential to go viral. That persons friends would see the pitch and be able to re-share it with others! Often folks have a multitude of friends on FB that are actually not in their email address books.
    Shawn
    Please remember your charity of choice: http://www.redcross.org

    Handy Links: wildjokerdesign.net | Plain Text Editors: EditPlus | Crimson

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