How To Get Delisted From Spamhaus

Spamhaus’s primary goal is to track all spamming activities and spammers.  Learn how to get delisted from Spamhaus’s blacklists.

Table Of Contents

With Clickable Navigation

What Is Spamhaus?
Understanding The ZEN Blacklist
How Do I Know If I Am Listed On Spamhaus?
Why Does Spamhaus Blacklist IP Addresses?
I Am Listed On A Spamhaus Blacklist, What Do I Do To Get Out?
Are You Sending Spam?
How Did You Get Your List?
Now That You Are Out: How To Stay Out Of The Spamhaus For The Long Term

What Is Spamhaus?

Spamhaus is a non-profit organization whose operation cuts across different countries of the world. Spamhaus came into existence in 1998 in Europe. It currently has branches in 10 countries where its 40 employees control activities across the globe. Spamhaus’s primary goal is to track all spamming activities and spammers. The company wishes to reduce cases of spamming on the cyber space. Many blacklists come together to form the company. Each blacklist that makes up Spamhaus contributes their features to the blacklist company to make it a more robust system. Mailbox providers use these blacklists to protect themselves against spammers. Sometimes, though, the company may blacklist you even if you are not a spammer. A lot of factors may be responsible for that. This article will discuss these factors later. Right now, the company protects the mailboxes of some 2 billion email users. It uses a domain-based blacklist and six DNS-based blacklists (DNSBL’s). Some of the blacklists the company manages are XBL, ZEN, and DBL. Others include XBL, BCL, PBL, and SBL.

Understanding The ZEN Blacklist

ZEN is one of the many blacklists that make up Spamhaus. This blacklist combines the features of XBL, SBL, and PBL. To understand this blacklist better, it is important to know what each of its members does:

  • SBL: SBL Means Spamhaus Block List. It contains the list of IP addresses that Spamhaus doesn’t want people to receive emails from. Some investigators formed a team to control and maintain SBL. These investigators are in 10 different countries.
  • XBL: This means Exploits Block List. It has the record of IP addresses of personal computers that some unauthorized people took over for spamming. These personal computers are later infected by some worms or viruses. The viruses and worms include 3rd party exploits such as AnalogX, HTTP, Wingate, Socks, and others. The worms or viruses have built-in spam engines and some other Trojan-horse viruses.
  • PBL: PBL stands for Policy Block List. The PBL is a database of IP addresses that should not send SMTP emails that are not authenticated to an Internet mail server. It should only deliver to mail servers that an Internet Service Provider (ISP) provides for a customer to use. The PBL will help network providers to make sure that people accept their Acceptable Use Policy.

Since ZEN contains these blacklists, users should use zen.spamhaus.org only in their IP blocklist configurations. This is because it contains every data in Spamhaus and people use it more than other blacklists. If you don’t want to waste DNS queries or requests you make to a server, don’t use ZEN with any other Spamhaus IP blocklists. When you combine them, your mail queue will be lowered. These may have a negative effect on your deliverability.

How Do I Know If I Am Listed On Spamhaus?

If you wish to know whether your IP is on Spamhaus’ list or not, check https://www.spamhaus.org/lookup/. You have to enter your domain name or IP address for the check. If you are on the list, you will find out right away.

Why Does Spamhaus Blacklist IP Addresses?

You may be wondering how Spamhaus decides which IP address to blacklist and which ones not to. Spamhaus considers a lot of factors before blacklisting an IP address:

  1. Bad addresses or lists: When an ISP receives several cases of bounced email addresses, it believes that there are some issues with your email list. Some of the blacklist companies, such as Spamhaus, can find spammers with some spamtrap addresses. Spam addresses are email addresses that nobody is using. Still, these email addresses are available to the public and people are using them for harvesting lists. When people send emails to such addresses, purchased or old lists usually contain such addresses, it implies that the emails are not from mailers that have sought permission to send them emails. If this continues, the IP will get blacklisted in no time.
  2. Spam complaints: Those receiving messages from you may make Spamhaus see you as a spammer. When receivers activate the Spam button by clicking it, Spamhaus will consider you a potential spammer. Imagine if about 100 people on your list activate the Spam button. The higher the number of such complaints, the closer you are to getting blacklisted.
  3. Sudden increase in list size: A sudden massive email list growth is a red flag. If your list increases in size with a large number of additions in a short time, the ISP will assume that you bought the list. You will become a suspect and that may move the company to blacklist you.

I Am Listed On A Spamhaus Blacklist, What Do I Do To Get Out?

If you found out that you are on Spamhaus’ blacklist, don’t panic. It is natural to feel bad about the listing because that will harm your deliverability. But it isn’t a death sentence. There are some specific actions you can take to get out of the list. The following tips will help you to get out in no time:

  • Take action

If Spamhaus has already listed you, the first thing you should think about is how to get out of it. This requires that you fix things without delay. Once your IP address is on the list, stop sending email messages until you settle the issue. Check https://www.spamhaus.org/lookup/. This site will let you know the domains and IP addresses that the listing affects. Then, go through your emails, especially the recent ones. Find out what could have caused the blacklisting. Did you violate any of their policies? Check your emails for inactive email IDs and bounces. These two may triggered Spamhaus to block you.

  • Talk to the right people

People that are one way or the other involved in your email activities should know about the blacklisting. Inform your email service provider and Technical Account Manager. The manager should have experience in handling Spamhaus listing. They can help you to get out of the list or show you how to do it yourself. You should understand that the best way to handle delisting is to know what caused it. It is important that you find out the cause of the blacklisting before you do anything else about it. If you don’t know the source of the problem, you can’t fix it. If you can’t solve the issue, you won’t get out of the problem.

  • Find a solution to the issue

Once you know the cause, find a solution to it. If you still don’t know the cause, your Technical Account Manager should assist you to get to the root of the problem. Here are tips to help you find out what the issue is: Go through your system. The problem may be due to bounces or inactive emails. You should remove the bounced IDs. If there are inactive IDs, remove them as well. What does it matter? Inactive users can become targets for spam traps. Thus, it is important that you remove them from your contact before they trigger spam alert. Your email service provider will handle this. Before the provider turns the inactive users to spam traps, it will send a code a year before it acts. The unknown user code will give you a list of your contact. Find out the bounces in the feedback and remove them. You can also contact your technical support if you aren’t sure about how to go about this.

Are You Sending Spam?

Spamhaus can blacklist an IP address if the IP sends spam email messages. This happens when a phone or machine within the office or home network doesn’t work well but sends spam. The company will assume that you are the one sending out such spam messages. It will punish you for that. If you don’t solve this problem, you can’t delist yourself from the blacklist. You can’t change your IP address as well. The company may only give you more listings. If the company includes your IP in its blacklist and you are finding it difficult to get out of the blacklist, you may have to change your IP address. There are several ways you can get a new IP address. They include:

  • Commercial IP user: If you are sure that your network is not the problem, ask your ISP for a new address.
  • Residential ISP: Try to recycle your IP address. Refresh your DHCP lease to recycle it. If that doesn’t give you the result you want, contact your provider and ask for another IP address.
  • Dedicated hosting customer: Check the IP addresses in your neighborhood. If some of these IP addresses are on the list, you may ask your email service provider to move you to another subnet.

How Did You Get Your List?

It is also important that you check how you acquire your email list. Are they from people you don’t know but you somehow got their email from somewhere? You should have a system that tracks how you subscribers joined your list. Which ones are from an option form on your website? Are they from your social media pages? Be sure to monitor how people join your list. If you have been sending emails to purchased or rented lists, stop. Only send emails to people who are interested in receiving messages from you. Do everything you can to improve your email list quality. A great way to do that is to confirm email addresses before you add them to your list. You can use double opt-in to confirm only real people are joining your list. Once you have done the above, you can then remove yourself from the list by following the process in this link: https://www.spamhaus.org/lookup/ . When you are deleting yourself, notify Spamhaus that you have solved the problem. When you are filling out the delist form, enter accurate information. In the list, mention that you have solved the problem that got you blacklisted. When you have done this, leave it to Spamhaus to do the rest. Remember that it is at their discretion to remove you or not. Thus, if you delist yourself, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are off the blacklist Note that the most effective way to avoid troubles is staying off the list in the first place. You should always check out the unknown user rates, bounces, complain rates, and spam trip from time to time. If you notice anything unusual during a routine check, reach out to your Technical Account Manager to resolve the issue before it escalates. Sometimes, you may get a message that zen.spamhaus.org has blacklisted you. When that happens, your ISP may have given you an IP that someone used for spamming before. To solve this issue, reset your router or modem. If you reset it, the ISP will give you a new IP. Here is alternative way to get delisted from Spamhaus:

  1. Visit www.whatismyipaddress.com on your browser to get a public IP.
  2. Login into http://www.spamhaus.org/zen/  
  3. When you are on the page, use the search box to check your IP address.
  4. Follow the guide on how to remove yourself from the list on the web.

Now That You Are Out: How To Stay Out Of The Spamhaus For The Long Term

Now that you are out of Spamhaus, how do you avoid getting blacklisted again? Getting out is only the beginning. Staying out is the real deal.  You really don’t want to go through the troubles of trying to de-list yourself again. You need to adopt preventive measures that keep you off their radar. Here are some practical tips that can help you to stay out of Spamhaus’ blacklist:

  • Work on your email content

The first step is to examine and review your email activities. This includes avoiding spam-like activities that may damage your reputation again. You want to get a mail monitor to track your activities and let you know how you are doing. If there are issues, the program will help you identify and fix them before they get worse. Remember that your email content determines whether your subscribers will open and engage with your emails or ignore it. If you continually send them unrelated stuff, Spamhaus may receive spam complaints. It is important to send quality and helpful stuff to your subscribers regularly.

  • Don’t buy email lists

If you have been doing this, you need to stop. If you don’t, you may end up buying spamtraps or stale email addresses. This will increase the number of spam complaints registered against you, which will put you in the black book of Spamhaus. Always remember to keep a clean list. Ensure you remove inactive or bounced addresses from time to time. You should also consider removing anyone on your list that has not opened your email for a long time, they are not your ideal clients.

  • Break your list into segments

One way to reduce the number of inactive subscribers on your list is to give them what they want. Give them the right content that will appeal to them, something they’ll love. To achieve this, put your list into segments. This will enable you to write content that speaks to different segments of the list. You may create segments based on the products they buy, where they live, gender, age, and other parameters. Additionally, segmenting allows you to send the right email to each segment without mixing things up. If you want to succeed in this email marketing game, you need to pay attention to everything, down to the minutest details. Everything matters. It is very difficult to run a successful email campaign when your IP is blacklisted, it is like trying to fill a basket with water. You will be wasting your time and other valuable resources. If you aren’t sure whether you are on blacklist, take the steps highlighted in this article to check. If you find out you are, you need to get things fixed as soon as possible. Follow the steps to delist yourself. Have you delisted yourself but still not off the blacklist? It is time to get a new IP or move to a new sending server, a fresh start. Once you get it, avoid anything that could get you back in.

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