History Repeating: Challenge/Response again?!

At least one mailing list operator on Mailop is reporting that he's receiving mail from something called BitBounce. It sounds like some combination of crypto-currency based "pay to send email" thing (remember Hashcash? Or is this more like e-postage?) where you attempt to limit spam by requiring each individual sender to pay some extra fee (which doesn't really work unless the whole world buys into the model) and "challenge/response" email filtering wherein you attempt to limit spam by spamming back to the sender a requirement that they click on a link and do a little dance to prove they're human. Which still doesn't work very well, not back when I talked about it in 2014, not back when I talked about it in 2006.

Whaaaaat? This nonsense again? Nobody reads the history books anymore, do they? Kids today...

Canada and Japan joining forces to stop spam

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has signed an agreement with Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. The two groups pledge to work together to "combat unsolicited commercial electronic messages." It sounds like they'll be sharing information to trace spamming bad guys across borders. The agreement came into force on January 1st, 2018.

The CRTC further indicated that it "has entered into similar bilateral agreements with the United Kingdom’s Information Commissioner’s Office, the United States Federal Trade Commission, the United States Federal Communications Commission, the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs and the Australian Communications and Media Authority."

You use 2FA for your Google account, right?

If so, eventually you'll end up replacing your phone, and you might need a guide on how to transfer that 2FA code generation from the current phone to the new phone. How do you do that? Gizmodo's Field Guide has you covered.

They also explain how to do this with Apple and Microsoft accounts, as well.

You DO use 2FA (two factor authentication), right? Please do. It can perhaps be imperfect, but I've personally seen it save the day when people have tried to nefariously access the email accounts of my friends (and even my own account).

Dead email domain: alltel.net

A reader wrote in asking me if anybody was home at the email domain alltel.net.

I performed a handful of checks to see:
  1. Does the domain have an A record? No. We're getting a server failure response or server not found response.
  2. Does the domain have an MX record? No. We're getting a server failure response or server not found response.
  3. Does that MX or A record answer as a mail server when you try "telnet (hostname) 25"? Doesn't matter, can't find either.
  4. Search the web -- what do I find? Two things: First, Matt Vernhout blogged about this domain shutting down back in 2009. Second, here's information from an AT&T message board suggesting maybe the domain still worked in 2016. 
According to this timeline, Windstream seems to have indeed picked up much of the Alltel user base at some point in the past through M&A, but AT&T may have later acquired some of the Windstream properties back later? Confusing. But regardless, the domain certainly seems dead today. There's no point in sending to it, and if you've got alltel.net subscribers on your list, then something is funny. Is your list old? Are you sure it's all people who recently opted-in to receive email from you?

TinyLetter: Don't freak out just yet!

Slate reports that popular email service provider Mailchimp plans to phase out TinyLetter, the neat simple newsletter service they have owned since 2011. It sounds like people are jumping the gun on freaking out, though. Mailchimp says that things will change eventually but they actually don't seem to have pulled the plug on the thing yet, or even announced when they might do so.

So stay calm, Tiny fans! Mailchimp even says that even if/when they roll TinyLetter back up into Mailchimp, "it will still have the same super-simple newsletter building functionality, but it’ll be refreshed and updated for improved user experience."

More on "Smart Unsubscribing"

I mentioned recently that Google has implemented a feature wherein they'll suggest to "Inbox by Gmail" users that the user may want to unsubscribe from communication from a sender under certain circumstances. Turns out Yahoo Mail does something similar. Tom Sather explains in more detail over on the Return Path blog.