IP Reputation Investigation

An IP address earns a negative reputation when Symantec detects suspicious activity, such as spam or viruses originating from that address. Symantec strongly recommends that you perform a security audit on any of your systems that correspond to an IP address with a negative reputation, as those systems may have been compromised.

If you believe that your IP address has been given a negative reputation erroneously, you may request an investigation of that address.

IP Address Investigation Request

To request investigation of an IP address, enter that address in the IP Address field provided below. Confirm the security image text in the Image Text field and click Submit.

Security Image

Symantec Mail Security Reputation

Symantec uses various methods and data sources to create lists of IP addresses that are suspected of being untrustworthy. These IP addresses may include:

  • Compromised machines ("zombies") that send out spam.
  • Open proxies that allow untrusted e-mail to pass through them.
  • Systems that are observed sending spam on the Internet.

Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions:

Q: Why is my IP address assigned a negative reputation?
A: IP addresses are assigned a negative reputation when they are found to be open proxies or when they send high levels of spam or viruses to spam traps and users. These IP addresses are analyzed to see if they belong to machines that should not be sending mail.
Please remove viruses, open proxies or any potentially mis-configured applications or bad software from your server.
Q: What is an open proxy?
A: An open proxy is a computer that allows e-mail to be sent from arbitrary users (or machines). Modern mail hosts only allow mail to be delivered locally to their own users or transferred remotely from their own authenticated users. Open proxies are often old or improperly configured servers, but they can also be compromised personal computers. Open proxies can occur on both personal computers and UNIX systems.
Q: What is a zombie?
A: A zombie computer, or zombie for short, is a computer attached to the Internet that has been compromised by a computer virus or worm. Such a machine can be controlled from a central location, without the knowledge of the machine's owner, and can be made to perform various malicious tasks including, but not limited to, sending spam. Millions of such zombie computers are known to exist, linked up into a number of "zombie networks" (sometimes referred to as botnets) to form a massive distributed server farm for the purpose of delivering spam simultaneously from origins distributed across the entire Internet.
Zombies are now the most common delivery method of spam, accounting for a majority of all spam worldwide.
Q: What does it mean to be observed sending spam?
A: Symantec maintains a proprietary intelligence network that monitors e-mail activity across a large portion of the Internet. When Symantec observes a host/server/computer sending spam, it means that e-mail specifically identified as spam was registered as originating from the host/server/computer in question.
Q: I've requested that Symantec clear the reputation of my IP address, but I still receive bounce messages when I try to send e-mail. What should I do?
A: First, be sure that your e-mail program is set up properly: if your connection is through dial-up, cable, or DSL, your Internet service provider will most likely require you to send all mail through the mail server they provide. Second, ensure that your system is free of security threats by scanning it with a virus scanner that has up-to-date virus definitions. Symantec offers a free virus detection tool, available here, and a 15-day free trial for Norton AntiVirus. Other major vendors have similar offerings. Remove any viruses or malware that are found.
If you still find that your IP address has been assigned a negative reputation, provide additional information in the provided form to help us further diagnose problems.
Q: What does it mean to be unauthorized to send email directly to email servers?
A: IPs such as dynamic IPs may be listed because they generally should not be sending email directly to email servers. For most home users, this listing should not impact you. This listing does not prevent you sending email unless your email program is not authenticating properly when it connects to your ISP or company's mail server.
Verify that your mail program is using SMTP authentication, if it is not enabled you should enable it. If you are attempting to send mail to an ISP other than your provider you should verify that you are authenticating through your ISP's outbound SMTP server. You should verify that your username and password are up to date. Additionally you should verify that you are using the specified port for sending using authentication; for authentication this should be port 587. If you are using port 25 you are most likely not authenticating and could be blocked.

For Server Administrators:

Q: My mailer is professionally hosted with a static IP address, not a residential dial-up or broadband address. Why was it identified as a zombie?
A: Make sure that your machine's DNS records don't look like a residential IP address. You may need to contact your hosting provider to resolve these issues. Verify that PTR records exist for all IP addresses that the machine uses to send mail. This is known as having RDNS (Reverse DNS).
If you do not have any RDNS records, you will encounter delivery problems to many major ISPs. Verify that the RDNS records are visible from an outside source, such as http://www.dnsstuff.com/ and make sure that these PTR records are not "generic RDNS" records, e.g. 201-137-58-21-srv.example.com. Such records are common for new machines, and are virtually indistinguishable from residential broadband addresses.
Q: My host does not relay on port 25. Why am I listed as an open proxy?
A: Open proxies are not limited to using port 25 and can often be found in relation to other applications that have been badly configured such as web servers or http proxies.
Make sure that your machine is not accepting non-authenticated SMTP relay connections on any port. Also check for compromises to your machine, the existence of an open proxy often indicates a machine has been successfully attacked.
If the machine is professionally hosted, please contact your system administrator for help with these tasks. Never run port scanning software without explicit authorization from the network owner.
Q: What if my server is behind a NAT?
A: Being behind a NAT alone does not prevent spam and viruses. Please remove viruses, open proxies or any other mis-configured applications of bad software from the server in question.
Firewall rules or other ACLs restricting servers from connecting to the internet except through specified servers, - usually mail server on port 25 - is one way of limiting infected computers from getting spam and viruses out of a network.