Please Stop Using Barracuda as a Spam Solution - tuesday 2009-05-19 0114 last modified 2009-05-19 0116
Categories: Nerdy, Daily Grind
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Barracuda's public business model is selling hardware that sits in your network and talks to their services about what mail out there is spam. If that were their actual business model, it would be a valuable service; the amount of time it takes to process and filter garbage traffic could quite possibly be worth the cost of offloading to a third party and doing more constructive things. But that's not the whole of their business model. In addition to these hardware services, it is probable Barracuda also sells exceptions to their spam calculations - which, sad to say, take advantage of open source software - through a business whose ownership is murky, which is basically a bright red arrow pointing back at Barracuda. It costs $20 to get all of your mail to bypass a Barracuda block.

Our IP address was recently placed on Barracuda's block list. No other legitimate, widespread list suggests our mail is anything other than real mail, which it is. Those block lists that do name us are blatantly doing what Barracuda tries to disguise: selling a way off the list. Very few mail services make use of them, and so we accept the minuscule potential for loss.

One of the reasons I continue to use mail is that it's based on agreed-upon standards. As time wears on this technology, all the nooks and crannies the standards missed are being occupied by oddities like opaque spam calculations or unprincipled businesses. Much like the mail tax AOL instigated three years ago (incidentally, it looks like the dearaol.com petitioning site is dead; long live dearaol.com), Barracuda is extremely well positioned through years of their public business model to start hitting up legitimate mail administrators for cash. In other times, this type of business would be considered racketeering or blackmail.

We have no recourse to do an end run around Barracuda. Nobody can arbitrate for us. Were Barracuda small time, I wouldn't bother mentioning them. There are, unfortunately, large organizations that make use of Barracuda's services, the largest and most troubling for our purposes is MIT. My tiny, public letter: MIT, it's time to stop feeding into this scam.

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