back to article BT hits 'undo' on anti-spam email update

BT has been forced to roll back changes it made to its rules on outgoing email addresses after they caused confusion for its broadband customers. In March, the firm's Retail tentacle applied restrictions that meant customers who do not use an "" address for outgoing mail must verify it to avoid a 553 SMTP error …


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  1. Paul Rogers
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    Got to love BT/Yahoo

    First they start deferring email coming into their servers without any discernable whitelisting process, then they start blocking email going out. Will BTYahoo! Not! Be! Happy! Until! Nobody! Can! Use! Email! At! All!?

  2. Anonymous Coward

    First official thing I'd heard about this.

    They never bothered to email and announce the fact that they were going to make the change either before or after the change happening. Email just stopped working. (strangely enough if you pressed send enough times, it did get through eventually).

    The obscure instructions were hidden in the Yahoo web interface (which I never go into), but started looking up why the 553 error was happening. It took a while to track it down.

    You were then forced to register each email address as a sending address in the yahoo web mail, which then sent a confirmation email back to your account with a code number that you had to enter back in the yahoo interface in order to allow you to send the email from your normal email client. However if you had multiple accounts to register, woe betide you if you tried to register more than one at once, as the code numbers all cancelled each other out and got mixed up!

    Great bit of customer service and the usual fantastic standard of communicaiton from BT.

  3. Lickass McClippers

    Not strictly true...

    I know you're cribbing someone else's work, however, this statement isn't strictly true;

    "customers who do not use an "" address for outgoing mail must verify it to avoid a 553 SMTP error"

    I use BTYahoo..!! mail, and don't have a "", I have a "" address, I don't have to verify every outgoing mail...

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Why am I suspicious

    Because they have been doing this for commercial customers for years and rather than keep the nice simple to you must authenticate your log in to send other domain emails – they keep changing the rules on how to allow domain relaying –

    but funny if the domain is hosted on your BT account then there is no problems - I wonder what the connection is ?

  5. Al


    Absolute madness. Having jumped through the required (and not easy to find) hoops to get my e-mail service back to the way it was, now it doesn't matter. Admittedly the process was fairly simple to do, but if you don't habitually use the BT/Yahoo web pages it wasn't easy to find.

    Oddly enough, I don't recall seeing an e-mail announcing this change in service either.

    BT are truly a tribe of clowns.

  6. Leo Rampen

    Google apps...

    My dad suddenly found his email not working. I had a look on the BT web interface, but it really wasn't clear what was happening.

    In the end, I just changed his outgoing SMTP server to the google apps one we use for the family domain. Problem solved, and now if we ever move ISP's there'll be one less issue to worry about.

  7. Elmer Phud

    not seen it myself

    I've got an old Talk21 account which doesn't seem to have been affected.

    Can also use the * variation on my * account with no problems.

    Other than the spam filters overflowing now and then it all seems to be O.K.

    (now I've invoked Sod's/Finagle's Law I'll be reduced to Hotmail as soon as this is sent)

    Needs either 'arse from elbow' or 'arse with both hands and a map' icon

  8. Andy Turner

    I applaud them...

    For at least attempting to stem the flood of spam from compromised machines on their network. All ISPs should be trying to implement something like this.

  9. Tom Kelsall

    I've been....

    seriously considering dropping Yahoo! as my mail provider anyway; I've had a Yahoo! address since about 6 months after Rocketmail went away and never had a problem... but recently incoming mails have taken days to get into my mailbox, and outgoing mails have been disappearing without notification; never arriving at the destination.

    I reckon Yahoo! is getting blacklisted by more and more organisations too...

  10. TimM

    ISP mail servers

    It's hassles like this that made me run my own (far more secure and spam free) mail server on my own domain. Though that wasn't thanks to BT, but NTL and later PlusNet, who in their own ways screwed up their servers enough to make me jump.

    Problem with running your own server though of course is you become "untrusted" because you're not a big name, but I find it's 99% reliable as I have a static IP from PlusNet and never been blacklisted except by AOL who blacklist everyone anyway (despite being a prime spammer themselves), and of course BT/Yahoo who decide to defer delivery because they don't trust you!. In rare blacklist occasions I just fall back to the ISP's mail server and pray it will get delivered.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    If at first you don't suceed switch ISP's

    Except there is one additional wrinkle that has so far been lacking coverage. The fact that, even if you do jump through all of BT's fire rings, there is still no guarantee it will work, I had to do this process for my Dad's machine and managed to get it working, however the very next day the problem was back and no amount of fiddling with the rules could make it work. I wasn't even going to try to ring the Help desk as I have been there before and didn't fancy loosing another couple of years of my life. In the end I had to give in to the dic tator and change his address to the crappy BT one :(

    One more bright idea from BT's penny pinching department and I'm off. Life's too short to spend it trying to figure out what idiot is going to break your broadband service next.

  12. Antidisestablishmentarianist
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    In NZ too

    Telecom (the NZ version of BT) has the same Yahoo disease, which they introduced last year to much fail (I think their email was out for a week? Good migration that one). They too have just implemented the same thing here. Disgusting process.

    The new super 'anti-spam' is REAL clever as well. I sent an email to*. The reply from (with RE: <my original subject>) got sent to the spam folder however. WTF? Yeah REAL fkn clever.

    * joe has had his identify change in order to protect his identity.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Andy Turner

    >For at least attempting to stem the flood of spam from compromised machines on their network.

    You don't understand how spam is sent do you. The vast majority is sent by spam zombies on botnets that go nowhere near an ISPs mail server. This change will do nothing.

  14. Rich

    This is why I use my own domain

    Sorry to be snooty but:

    Personally I think ISP email addresses are a waste of time, I always refuse to use the one they give you.

    For a mere £30/year I get a reasonable sized Email, SMTP, my own domain name & Webspace. I have no troubles sending or receiving and SPAM is zero, they still offer Grey Listing and other SPAM methods should you wish to use them but I have never needed to. I can also set up my email on any computer in the world without being locked down by an ISP's rule book. I can chop and change ISP's without having to worry about my email settings or having to tell everyone im changing. I can use it for business purposes without paying a penny more. I have complete access and complete control over my account e.g. to easily add mailboxes, forwards, groups, etc... There are no ads, pop-ups anywhere. The best thing of all the host leaves me alone and I love it!!!

  15. James

    @ Rich

    Just don't be snooty & miss the whole point.

    Most people probably do use their ISP address & aren't having a problem.

    Most of us (reg reader types) probably do have our own domains but not necessarily our own mail servers so we spoof our domain email addresses in outlook, etc & this suddenly not working is what the article is about.

    @ Leo

    I was just looking at google apps this week for our family domain & that has to be the way to go. My parents already have gmail accounts (the 'sent on behalf of' kludge seems to bother them less) so if I can get their existing mail successfully swapped into the apps accounts we'll be away.

  16. Sceptical Bastard

    Speak as you find

    For five long years BT was my ISP, first on dial-up then on DSL. In my experience, BT is a hateful corporation whose business model seems built on contempt for its customers.

    Of all the ISPs I've used (work and home) BT was the worst by a mile: piss-poor products, unreliable connectivity, dreadful customer 'service', and a 'fuck you' attitude.

    I voted with my wallet some years ago. Since then, things seem to have got even worse - this email fuck-up and the Phorm phiasco, for instance

    I'd dearly like to see the whole shower of shit bankrupted and broken up, its directors in Guantanamo, its senior management tarred and feathered, and its PR people hanged drawn and quartered.

    The more people who move ISP away from BT the better.

  17. Ralph Beales

    As someone who works for BT

    .. and actually sees the numbers that relate to SPAM (as in >90% of emails sent) it's a major headache for the company.

    My job isn't involved in anyway with the BT Retail operation or even BT Exact, who are responsible for the security issues but whilst BT often pi55 peeps off with customer service, there are some serious problems with SPAM email and something has to be done to resolve it.

    Rather than constantly whining and moaning about it on El Reg, would some of you lobby for execution of the spamming b@stards who cause the problem? You know, a bit like China and drug dealers, where they shot 6,000 of 'em and got rid of a lot of problems. Or would that require too much effort ;)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I applaud the effort pity about the execution

    Bt are finally being smart when it comes to handling the abuse they allow their subscribers to do to the rest of the internet

    the measure of only allowing people to send e-mail from addresses they have verified are their own, stops 90% of outgoing spam from all those folks with an infected pc connected to bt {more than 1 in 3 pc's is infected in the UK}

    {assuming they also block port 25 direct connections to MX's}

    {also hoping they track users attempting to mis-send mail to inform them of the fact their machine is likely compromised}

    we have been doing this for some time and not only does it reduce outgoing spam to near-zero but also means users find out their machines are hacked within minutes of the hack happening thus {considering the adverage time between infection and discovery/fix is 3years}

    if every isp did this simple measure global spam {we see 99.x of all incomming mail atm is spam} would drop off dramatically

    and more importantly as the time till fixed of infected machines would drop botnets would shrink dramatically

    Its just such a pity that they couldn't execute the launch properly and inform users in pleny of time

    we announced it, made it optional for 3 months, {when you configured it it started working for your id/password} then finaly cut off those without it configured after the 3 months, 10 phone-support calls later all was done {the others still blocked are obviously bot-infected pc's the owners simply do not use mail on as none have called about their blocked smtp or checked their inboxes in the year since, probably webmail users who were never aware their pcs were spewing so much smtp traffic {by smtp auth i add} we have been slowly calling them as we have no other means of informing them

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