Frequently Asked Questions

What does SpamNab do?

SpamNab is a SaaS (Software as a Service) anti-spam and anti-virus solution for email. We protect a domain from incoming email-borne threats such as spam, phishing attacks and viruses.

The service is activated by an email administrator or postmaster or a domain administrator for a domain. SpamNab is intended for people who own or manage their own domain. If you are trying to protect a gmail, hotmail or other free email service, you are not able to take advantage of SpamNab's email security solution.

Can someone else read my email?

SpamNab processes messages in real-time, the process normally takes 1 or 2 seconds. Messages that pass through our systems are scanned for unwanted and harmful message content, the entire process is performed without human intervention. Legitimate email is not stored on SpamNab's servers; messages are passed directly to your email server for delivery to your inbox. No one has access to your legitimate email as it passes through SpamNab, not even the email administrator.

Bad mail is held in quarantine, while messages are in quarantine they may be shared by you, or the email administrator for your domain.

How long are messages kept in quarantine?

We hold messages in quarantine for a minimum of 7 days, but as long as 14 days - depending on your message volume.

Your messages in quarantine do not require any maintenance, you do not need to delete messages manually - once they expire they will be purged from our system automatically.

How do I ensure messages from my contacts are not placed in quarantine?

Under normal circumstances messages from your contacts will be delivered automatically to your inbox. In the rare case where a messages is incorrectly placed in quarantine you can contact us for the same and we will whitelist it for you asap. This whitelisted message sender or domain is then placed on your personal whitelist which will prevent future messages from placed in quarantine.

What if spam is still getting through?

SpamNab stops 99%+ of all spam for most users. When you do receive spam messages in your inbox you have a couple of options.

Your email administrator can write to us to implement a block on a specific email address, domain, country or network.
You can submit spam to us for further investigation.

In simple language, how does SpamNab work?

Our email security service (including anti-spam and anti-virus) use the MX records for your domain to direct email to SpamNab's distributed network of servers. Our servers scan incoming mail for email-borne threats and place bad mail into quarantine before reaching your server.

Messages that are clean are passed to your server where they are delivered to the inbox.

What are SpamNab's IP addresses?

Our inbound servers should be referenced by name only, you will can find instructions for configuring your MX records on the SpamNab Implementation document.

If you are looking to secure your server by only allowing SpamNab to connect and deliver mail, you can ask us for a list of IP addresses of our delivery servers that will filter and relay emails to your domain.

What if my email server is offline?

In the event that your email server(s) are down or not reachable SpamNab will place incoming mail into a delivery queue.

Messages will be held for up to 5 days, retrying delivery every 15 minutes. Once your server comes back online messages in the queue will be delivered.

Is there any maximum message size?

SpamNab will accept messages to a maximum size of 30MB. Messages exceeding that size will be returned to the sender as undeliverable.

Your server must also accept messages of 30MB or larger to avoid messages from being returned to the sender.

What are the best practices for using SpamNab?

Setting up SpamNab is fairly straight forward, however there are a few things you need to ensure to allow smooth mail delivery.

Disable local spam protection Let SpamNab do his job - it is good at it. Having SpamNab protect your domain, and enabling a 2nd level of anti-spam on your server can cause confusion. For best results disable spam protection on your local server to ensure messages are delivered successfully.

Server Hardening Protecting your server via firewall or changing the listening port of your SMTP server are great ways to secure your servers. If possible you should restrict access to your SMTP server, only allowing SpamNab to deliver mail to you. This prevents direct delivery attacks from spammers who attempt by bypass spam protection.

If you have employed server hardening on your server, ensure you allow SpamNab's IP addresses to connect to your servers so we can deliver your mail.

If you require our assistance in setting this up, we can take-up this task too.

How are messages identified as spam?

All messages are scanned and evaluated for email-borne threats such as spam, phishing and viruses. Before a message reaches your network we place bad mail into a secure quarantine in our network. We use a variety of filtering systems to find bad mail.

There are many different tests applied to every email destined for your mailbox. As spammer's change their techniques, SpamNab adapts to ensure your mailbox remains free of spam.

Does email stay private?

Good mail is passed to your server, we do not retain copies of messages.

Bad mail in quarantine can be accessed only by the intended postmaster/admin access to your domain.

Whenever possible our servers will use encryption to process both incoming and outgoing mail to ensure messages are protected while in transit over the Internet.

Do you support Active Directory or LDAP servers?

Yes, fully supported through our LDAP Sync service. User email accounts can be imported directly into SpamNab as a one-time operation or imported automatically via a schedule. We have support for Microsoft Active Directory, LDAP, OpenLDAP, IBM Domino & Zimbra.

What kind of redundancy is provided?

SpamNab operates a distributed network of servers for scanning email, operated at different data centers spread across multiple countries to ensure we meet the highest levels of uptime. All this is achieved using SpectraCloud as the infrastructure provider. We go so far as using three different domain names in our MX records, providing triple level redundancy down to the finest levels.

If your mail server is unavailable, our servers will queue and retry your messages for as long as five (5) days with retry intervals every 15 minutes. When your server comes back online messages in the queue will be automatically delivered, there is no action required on your part.

Our ISP blocks port 25. Can messages be delivered on non standard ports?

Yes, SpamNab can deliver your email on any valid TCP/IP port.

Public email servers communicate on port 25. SpamNab will only accept incoming email on port 25, but outgoing email to your server we can transmit on any port.

There are two primary reasons you may want to deliver email on a non standard port.

  • Your ISP blocks you from running your own email server - so they block port 25
  • Email server hardening to prevent spammers from connecting directly to your server

If you wish to run a mail server and your ISP blocks port 25, you can use SpamNab to accept your incoming email. If you want to operate your email server on port 2525 (or any other port) we can accept your incoming email on port 25 and forward to you on port 2525 which gets around your ISP block.

The second reason to operate on a non standard port is to keep out persistent spammers. Spammers know email is sent on port 25, so they will sometimes connect to port 25 of a server they think 'may' be running an email server. If they establish a connection they can try and send spam. Spammers do not follow standard rules. They break as many rules as necessary to get their junk mail delivered. If you operate your server on a port other than 25, it reduces the surface area a rouge spammer trying direct delivery attempts to your server.

I changed my MX records hours ago, I'm still getting spam! What is going on?

DNS records are cached around the Internet, when you change your MX records it takes 24 - 48 hours for all computers around the world to receive the updated information.

You will start to see some spam reduction right away, but you must wait 24 - 48 hours before you will get the maximum benefit. If you still get spam after 48 hours you are probably suffering from direct delivery attacks which you can prevent with server hardening.

Also ensure you are using only using our servers as your MX servers, you can get a list of servers you should be using on the SpamNab Deployment Instruction page provided to you by our tech. Verify your MX records at MX Toolbox, if you still have your old MX records listed the spammers will be sending their trash direct to you.

How do I get technical support?

If your email is protected by SpamNab, but you're not the email administrator for your domain, please check out with your email administrator only.

If you're the postmaster or email administrator for your domain (as registered with us) and you have not found what you need, then check out with our support desk.

After registering will my email automatically be redirected to the SpamNab servers?

After registering a new domain your email will not automatically be redirected to the SpamNab servers. The sign-up process will create an account for you, but will not change the flow of your email.

Before mail is directed to SpamNab's distributed network of spam fighting servers you must point MX record of your domain to SpamNab servers. You are in total control of when to start or stop the SpamNab servers from processing your incoming email.

MX records control the direction of your email. You can start or stop the SpamNab security service by adding or removing our MX records to your domain's DNS server at any time. SpamNab is never able to activate on a domain without the owners consent.

How does the registration process work?

Registering for our email security service is easy, no long forms, no complex questions - and no credit cards! Sign-up in less than 60 seconds on our registration page, supply your name, email and the name of the domain you want to protect.

Once we have your email and domain name, we will setup a default postmaster account and send the password to you via email. The postmaster account maintains the setup and preferences for your domain, such as server address, and the level of spam protection that is suitable for your organization.

What spam filters do you use?

SpamNab uses a number of techniques and advanced filters to combat spam, on a massive scale. The techniques are long worked and matured industry standard processes and policies achieving the desired spam-free email delivery.

Are computer viruses blocked?

SpamNab scans all incoming email for potential virus infection. When a virus is found, it is automatically deleted or placed into quarantine. For safety, virus infected messages can't be released from quarantine. There are hundreds of new viruses discovered every day; SpamNab continuously updates our virus signature database so the latest viruses are caught quickly.

Email transmission of viruses is on the rise; however, viruses can also spread through shared files that are downloaded via the Internet or transferred via some other media (such as CD or USB Drive). SpamNab will drastically reduce the number viruses that make it to your computer, however you should not disable your local anti-virus software.

Does SpamNab place advertisements in messages?

SpamNab does not alter the message content of any messages passing through our servers. We do not operate on an advertisement revenue model, no ads are placed in email or shown on our website.

Can I test email delivery before going live?

One of the most tense moments of migrating to a new service is 'the switchover'. Will your email still work, can you test it first before making the final switch?

Yes you can test email delivery on every email account in your domain if you wanted to.

Things to watch for...

  • You can't send messages to a domain that is not protected by SpamNab, our servers will not relay email to external domains.
  • Your test message will be subjected to all spam tests, just like a real message. You will probably bump into our greylisting filter on your first attempt to send a message. You will receive an error status 421, and are asked to try again later. This is the expected result when a new IP address is attempting to deliver mail. If you attempt to send the message again after a 10 minute period the message will be accepted.
  • SMTP messages are delivered over TCP port 25, if your ISP is blocking access to port 25 (very common on home type Internet connections) you will not be able to send email to our servers directly.

Once your testing is complete and email is flowing as you expect, you can make the final switch as per the instructions in the document shared to you. If you have any questions or problems getting the service up and running, please contact our support department.