Tiscali have recommended that its users use a free e-mail service, in place of their own, following a weeks worth of problems with their outbound e-mail platform, and the possibility of another week until the problems are fixed.
The issues arose after an influx of spam through their mail servers that has caused Tiscali to be blacklisted as a source of spam. Many service providers subscribe to 'spam blacklists' in order to help identify where spam is originating from, and to stop it from known sources. There is always a risk that legitimate sources can be blocked, but many service providers live with this in favour of receiving less spam mail for their customers.
Large internet service providers are regularly targeted, via their customers, to send spam, but unless there was a particularly large increase in the amount of spam being relayed via Tiscali, this seems like an unlikely cause for the problem. A spokesman for Spamhaus, an operator of one such blacklist, told the BBC that they were not seeing anything to indicate a need for major blocking, and speculated that a technical failure at Tiscali could be the cause. Tiscali, however, denied any technical problems.
A statement on the Tiscali website apologises and expects work to be complete today to implement new hardware and improved spam filters to reduce the problem. However, this will not bring an instant fix as it can often take some time to get off of spam blacklists once the problem has been curbed. This is one obvious flaw in the system, as the ISP in question who sends the mail has no control over who subscribes to these blacklists where they may be listed in error.
We are currently experiencing issues with outbound emails. We have been targeted by spammers using our service, which in turn has meant other ISPs have taken measures to block mail sent by Tiscali. This is not affecting all delivery addresses. Some mail continues to be delivered as normal. However some mail is being blocked by the receiving email servers.
Our engineers are taking urgent actions to block spammers abusing our email service. New hardware is being installed and spam filters are being updated. This work will be complete today. It is likely to take 7-10 days for these changes to take effect across receiving email providers. During this period, customers will still find some sent emails delayed.Tiscali UK Status page
Homecall, a Tiscali wholesale partner, have also been affected by the problem. We suggest who people have issues keep an eye on the Tiscali status page and sign-up for a free e-mail account such as at Google or Yahoo if you need to send e-mail in the mean time.