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Posts Tagged ‘smtp’

Warming Up Your IP Addresses Automatically

Thursday, June 21st, 2018

When sending email messages, there are many best practices for ensuring optimal deliverability.   I.e., for getting your messages into your recipients’ Inboxes and for staying off black lists.  One very important factor in deliverability is “IP reputation.

Good reputation: If your server is known to send lots of good quality email (email that people do not consider spam-like), then your server’s address (its “IP Address”) is looked on favorably by ISPs (such as Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft, etc.) and you can send large quantities of good email and have it all delivered.  Your server has a good reputation and your server’s IP address is “warm” (think warmed up and humming a long).

Bad reputation: If your server is a known source of junk or malicious email (according to the recipients of the email — it doesn’t matter what you think about the email quality), then you will have a hard time getting your email delivered and many ISPs will throttle your email, accepting only a few messages a time.  Your server has a poor reputation and work will need to be done to repair it.

No reputation: If you just got a new server, it may not have been sending any email for a while.  Or, if you have a server but it has been idle for a long time (e.g, months).  In either case, your server’s address may have “no reputation.”  ISPs are very skeptical about email from servers with no reputation or recent history of good email sending.  A typical sign of a spammer is when a server with little or no reputation suddenly starts sending large quantities of email.  ISPs will detect this and they tend to quickly throttle or block such servers…. moving them from “no reputation” towards “bad reputation”.

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High Volume Transactional Email: Balancing Utility and Marketing

Friday, May 18th, 2018

Your eCommerce customer, Paul, has ordered a special mattress for his bed. He’s put the item into the cart, and paid for it. Now you send a confirmation of purchase email.  But, instead of just a note stating that “we’ve received your payment, and your item has been posted for shipment…” or whatever boilerplate many companies send, you include that message and add photos of three sheets-and-pillowcases products that fit the mattress you just sold him. Paul has his own sheets, but has been thinking about replacing them – now your confirmation email makes him decide to buy them.

All eCommerce companies have to send transactional email, a type of email sent to facilitate an agreed-upon transaction between the sender and the recipient. Common transactional email use cases include doctor appointment reminders, account creation emails, password resets, purchase receipts, account notifications, medical lab results, and social media updates like friend and follower notifications.

What makes transactional email different from ordinary marketing email is that they are sent as part of doing actual business with people – not just chatting with, marketing to, or selling to a customer. In this respect, they are also different from so-called “triggered” emails which may be generated by a number of customer actions – not just transactions.

Transactional emails are opened eight times more than traditional marketing messages, according to a study by EPSILON.  So it only makes sense to adapt your transactional email for marketing, to take advantage of this unparalleled opportunity to reach your customer with a personalized offer.

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When can sending TLS-Secured Email be NOT HIPAA Compliant?

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

In a question recently submitted to “Ask Erik,” John asked:

“How does sending a TLS-encrypted email sometimes become non-compliant?  Lets says I send an email from my Office 365 Business account to a gmail.com account which both support TLS encryption.  Is it because I do not know what path and what servers the email has to go through?  Does each server have to decrypt the email and is that when it becomes non-compliant?  I love the Luxsci forms by the way!”

This is a great question!  In a recent survey that LuxSci did, less than 50% the people interested in secure email even knew what TLS is and how it works.  So it is not surprising that there is a lot of confusion out there about what is acceptable for compliance and what is not.

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Are Cloud Servers Bad for Sending Email?

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

Public cloud servers are great for many things; however, sending email is not one of them.

Why Cloud Servers are Bad for Sending Email?

The IP address spaces used by the major public cloud vendors (i.e. Amazon, Rackspace, etc.) for their cloud servers are well known and are generally black- or gray-listed by anti-spam systems. Additionally, many of the IP addresses in use by these systems are additionally “polluted” from previous abusive use by spammers.  When you set up a new cloud server, you could be easily assigned a “tarnished IP.”  Even if you do not inherit an exceptionally bad IP reputation from the previous user(s) of your new IP, your server will still be in the uncertain neighborhood of “public cloud IP addresses.”  This is the “wrong side of the tracks” and thus considered a possible spam source.

 

We have investigated several services that claim to offer “Cloud-Based Outbound Email” and have found that many use cloud servers for things like scanning email messages for spam and viruses, but use non-public cloud servers for the actual sending of email.  This is obviously not true for all companies, but it points to the fact that if everyone might be affected, the solution is to NOT send email directly from your public cloud.  There are, however, straight-forward solutions to getting email originating from such servers delivered.

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SMTP TLS: All About Secure Email Delivery over TLS

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

TLS stands for “Transport Layer Security” and is the successor of “SSL” (Secure Socket Layer). TLS is one of the standard ways that computers on the Internet transmit information over an encrypted channel. In general, when one computer connects to another computer and uses TLS, the following happens:

  1. Computer A connects to Computer B (no security)
  2. Computer B says “Hello” (no security)
  3. Computer A says “Lets talk securely over TLS” (no security)
  4. Computer A and B agree on how to do this (secure)
  5. The rest of the conversation is encrypted (secure)

In particular:

  • The meat of the conversation is encrypted
  • Computer A can verify the identity of Computer B (by examining its SSL certificate, which is required for this dialog)
  • The conversation cannot be eavesdropped upon (without Computer A knowing)
  • The conversation cannot be modified by a third party
  • Other information cannot be injected into the conversation by third parties.

TLS (and SSL) is used for many different reasons on the Internet and helps make the Internet a more secure place, when used. One of the popular uses of TLS is with SMTP for transmitting email messages between servers in a secure manner.  See also:

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