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Unsolicited Email Spam FAQs
Last Updated: Mon, 12 Dec 2011 > Related Articles
The following information provides resources and FAQs about unwanted spam.
No one likes unsolicited email (spam) except spammers. The Internet has been overwhelmed with spam that is often offensive, both in volume and content. A great deal of time, money and good will is spent by legitimate Internet users and Internet service providers, like Cox, in dealing with the problem. A number of state legislatures and Congress are also trying to address the problem through legislation.
Cox does not provide its customers’ email addresses to spammers and does not permit its customers to send unsolicited mass emails. Cox Communications has a variety of measures in place to help protect our Cox High Speed Internet customers and our network from spam, and we continue to look for ways to improve our services through the control and elimination of spam. There are things you, as a customer, can do to understand the problem and help to solve it. Following these tips can help reduce the problem for you.
Methods for Controlling Incoming Spam
If you post to newsgroups or message boards, you can change your “from” email address by adding spaces or characters to deter spammers from harvesting it from such locations. If your email address is in your email signature, you can eliminate it or us the same technique. You can also remove your name from major online directories. You should never respond to the “unsubscribe” link in any unsolicited email, as doing so can prompt even more mail from the source.
If you receive an unsolicited commercial email (spam message), you may report it to the sender’s ISP. In order to do this you must first view the complete message header for the spam message to identify the source network, and then send a report to the network’s administrator.
Cox has been successful at identifying addresses of known spammers and adding them to our own black lists. This is just one step in our investigation of network-based anti-spam solutions that will integrate with our email platform. This will allow us to recognize and block spam from known spammers using rules-based methods and also white or black lists.
Methods for Controlling Outgoing Spam
The below information is found in Cox’s Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), expressly prohibiting the use of the Cox High Speed Internet connection to generate spam. The accounts of customers who violate Cox’s anti-spam policy may be suspended or terminated.
You may not use the Service to send unsolicited bulk or commercial email messages ("spam"). Any unsolicited email must also not direct the recipient to any web site or other resource that uses the service. The Service may not be used to collect responses from unsolicited email sent from accounts on other Internet hosts or email services that violates this Policy or the acceptable use policy of any other Internet service provider. In addition, "mail bombing," the sending of numerous copies of the same or substantially similar messages or very large messages or files with the intent to disrupt a server or account, is prohibited.
To reduce unsolicited bulk email sent on our Cox High Speed Internet network, Cox instituted outbound SMTP traffic filtering (port 25 filtering). Currently Cox also filters all inbound SMTP traffic in an effort to protect unsecured computers on the network from being used as mail relay by potential spammers.
- The outbound SMTP traffic blocking security measure is designed to protect Internet users and the Cox High Speed Internet network. The vast majority of customers are not affected by this practice in any way. However, a small number of customers who use email addresses outside of the @cox.net domain and who do not currently have their SMTP servers set for Cox mail servers do need to change their settings. The requirement that Cox servers be used for all outgoing mail is simply so that Cox can observe and control spammers by removing them from the network.
- Outbound SMTP traffic blocking is an industry standard. Other ISPs who block port 25 include Bellsouth, Earthlink, Mindspring, Verizon, Mediaone, and MSN.
- Since the implementation of the port 25 blocking procedure, Cox has seen significant decreases in the residential Cox High Speed Internet complaint counts for different abuse types impacted by the port 25 blocking. Port scanning complaints decreased by 36%, virus complaints by 41%, spam complaints by 52%, and open proxy by more than 78%.
- Port 25 blocking also helped to control the impact viruses that have polluted the network by preventing their spread via email routing through port 25.
Frequently Asked Questions
The filter of port 25 does not impact the vast majority of Cox customers, only the small percentage of customers who use third party mail servers. Any software configured to use an SMTP server other than smtp.*.cox.net to deliver email directly to a recipient’s server will not work. An indication of this problem may be a message similar to this in the customer’s mail client.
"A time-out occurred while communicating with the server. Account: ‘otheraccount.othersisp.com’, Server: ‘othersmtp.com’, Protocol: SMTP, Port 25, Secure (SSL): No, error Number: 0x800CCC19"
Customers using third party email services must configure their email clients to use smtp.*.cox.net to send outbound email. Remember that operating an email or other server on a residential Cox High Speed Internet connection is a violation of our Acceptable Use Policy.
The CAN-Spam Act, effective January 1, 2004, preempts all State spam statutes and places a series of requirements on commercial email, “the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.” The act requires companies that send or initiate commercial email to:
- Refrain from using a misleading subject heading
- Provide in each message a valid return email or Internet-based reply address
- Provide in each message a physical postal address in the text
- Provide a conspicuous notice that it is an advertisement or solicitation
- Include a notice explaining how recipients can prevent the transmission of future messages by using the sender’s return email address or Internet-based reply address and honoring such requests within 10 days
- Refrain from selling or exchanging the email address of any recipient who has made an “opt-out” request
Businesses are permitted to send “transactional or relationship messages to facilitate, complete or confirm a commercial transaction that the recipient has previously agreed to enter into.” This is intended to be a very narrow exception and would include warranty, recall, safety or security information regarding a product previously purchased, periodic account statements and the like. “Transactional or relationship” messages may also contain content promoting a product or service unrelated to a previous transaction if ancillary to the primary purpose of the communication.
A safe harbor exists for companies that have reasonable compliance practices and make good faith compliance efforts. The Act also requires the FTC to study the creation of a nationwide “do-not-email” registry similar to its “do-not-call” list.