1. Understanding Barracuda Blacklisting
Barracuda Blacklisting is a security service by Barracuda Central aimed at protecting clients from spam messages by blocking IP addresses of servers that send spam emails. This service ensures that their clients don't receive spam and maintain a clean inbox.
When your IP or domain is listed on the Barracuda Blacklist, it means that your server has been flagged as sending spam or being associated with suspicious activities. This can impact your email deliverability or not, depending the type of inboxes you target with your emails.
How Barracuda Blacklist Works
Barracuda Blacklist is an automated system that detects IP addresses sending spam emails and adds them to its blocklist.
It's based on the Barracuda Reputation System, which uses honeypots, spam traps, and captive spyware protocol analysis to catalog IP addresses sending spam.
BRBL, short for Barracuda Reputation Block List - plays a vital role in the Barracuda Blacklist system. It's a real-time database of IP addresses with poor reputation. This list is used in spam detection and network security systems to block emails or traffic from suspicious sources.
Barracuda creates and maintains spam traps - a set of email addresses specifically designed to catch spammers who try to web scrape email addresses. As soon as an email is sent to a spam trap, the sender is promptly added to the blacklist.
What are the Listing Criteria for Barracuda
While Barracuda does not publicly detail all of their listing criteria, there are a few known reasons that can cause an IP to be listed on the BRBL:
- Spam Activity: If the IP address is involved in sending spam or malicious emails, it can be listed. This is probably the most common reason for listing. The spam activity can be detected by Barracuda's own network of spam traps or by reports from users or other networks.
- Open Proxy: If the IP address is hosting an open proxy, which can be used by spammers to send spam or conduct other malicious activities, it can be listed. Open proxies are often exploited by cybercriminals to hide their actual IP addresses.
- Open Relays: Open SMTP relays are servers that are configured to send email on behalf of any user, without requiring authentication. They are often used by spammers, and Barracuda will list IPs that host them.
- Botnet Activity: If the IP address is part of a botnet (a network of computers infected with malicious software and controlled without the owner's knowledge), it can be listed.
- Other Malicious Activity: This can include activities such as hosting malware, participating in DDoS attacks, or other behavior associated with malicious intent.
2. How to check if you are on the Barracuda Blacklist
If you suspect that your IP or domain is listed on the Barracuda Blacklist, it's important to check this before going further. There are multiple methods to check if you are on the blacklist, such as examining error messages in bounce emails, or using tools like Barracuda's lookup page, MXToolbox, or MailReach.
Error Messages and Bounce Emails
Error messages are notifications that an issue has occurred with sending or receiving an email, while bounce emails are generated when the email message is not successfully delivered to the recipient. Bounce codes within these emails signify whether the failure was a “soft bounce” (temporary) or a “hard bounce” (permanent).
If you notice error messages in bounce emails that mention your IP being listed on the Barracuda Blacklist, it's a clear indication that you need to take action.
Using Barracuda's Lookup Tool or MXToolbox
Barracuda's Lookup Tool is a real-time database of IP addresses with a "poor" reputation for sending valid emails, maintained by Barracuda Central. By entering your IP address or domain into the lookup tool, you can verify if it is listed on the Barracuda Blacklist. Alternatively, you can use third-party tools like MXToolbox to check your IP's status.
Once you've confirmed your IP's blacklisting status, it's essential to take immediate action to resolve the issues that led to the blacklist and request removal to ensure your email deliverability doesn't continue to suffer.
3. What's the impact of Barracuda blacklisting on your email deliverability?
If you mostly send emails towards Microsoft or Gmail inboxes, there's no direct impact.
The major inbox providers are Google (Gmail and Google Workspace) and Microsoft (Outlook / Exchange / Office 365). These two own most of the market shares.
They both use their own proprietary algorithms to decide if your emails will land in inbox or spam.
Blacklists like Barracuda are services external to Google and Microsoft. In 99% of the cases, Google and Microsoft don’t care about them. They don't take them into account.
Why? Because Google and Microsoft have a much better and reliable way to know if you’re a spammer or not.
They prefer analyzing how their users react to your emails. In other words, they check your engagement rate. More info below.
If you send emails to inboxes on smaller ISPs or private mail servers, it can impact your deliverability :
Being listed on the Barracuda blacklist could potentially impact the deliverability to email servers or services that use Barracuda's reputation system to filter spam. This could include smaller ISPs, enterprise email systems, private email servers, and some web hosting companies. Barracuda is also used by some companies to protect their internal email systems from spam and malicious emails.
4. Your priority is to test your deliverability ASAP. It's free and takes 1 minute.
Listed on Barracuda or not, your main priority is to check your deliverability (where your emails land) and take action if needed.
To get your deliverability score and find out where your emails land on the major providers, you can use MailReach’s Free Email Spam Test.
Basically, you just have to send an email (in real sending conditions) to a list of 31 inboxes given by MailReach and you'll receive a detailed report on your deliverability including all the things you can improve to land more in inbox.
You get a score out of 10 and a list of checks (content, spam words, links, tracking, blacklists and many more)
4. Fix the Issues That Led to Blacklisting
A. Identify the Cause
Begin by understanding why you were blacklisted. Was it due to a high spam complaint rate, an email-based attack, or poor IP reputation? You can find this information by looking into your email server logs and any bounce-back messages you've received.
B. Scan Your Systems
Run a complete system scan for malware and viruses. Infected machines might send spam or malicious content without your knowledge, causing poor IP reputation.
C. Secure Your Email Server
Ensure your email server is secure and not configured as an open relay. An open relay allows anyone on the internet to send email through your server, making it an attractive target for spammers.
D. Minimize your risk of sending emails to spam traps
- Don't buy lists : they can contain spam traps, people with high complaint rates etc. Bad idea.
- Don't collect email addresses all over the internet:
- For marketing / newsletters / transactional emails, your contacts should only come from people who opted in.
- For a cold email sending activity: get your email list from LinkedIn using a scraping tool like Evaboot.
E. Minimize your risk of having spam complaints
- Obtaining explicit consent from recipients before sending them emails and honoring opt-out requests promptly (For marketing / newsletters / transactional emails)
- Providing a clear and easy-to-use unsubscribe link in all emails.
F. Get properly authenticated and secured
- Set up the SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records to demonstrate that you're a legitimate sender.
- For those who have their own mail servers, secure your servers to protect them from malware or bots that send fake emails, which can hijack your IP address and easily cause blocklisting.
5. Request Removal from Barracuda Blacklist
Once you've addressed the issues that led to your IP being blacklisted, it's time to request removal from the Barracuda Blacklist. The process involves completing the removal form and waiting for confirmation from Barracuda before verifying your IP's status.
Complete the Removal Form
To request removal from the Barracuda Blacklist, you'll need to fill out the Barracuda Central Reputation System - Removal Request form with valid information and a valid explanation. Providing accurate information and presenting a cohesive argument is crucial, as requests with inaccurate information may be disregarded by the automated system. It's important to note that submitting multiple removal requests to Barracuda will not expedite the process.
Provide your email server's IP address, your email address, and a phone number to submit the removal form. Please make sure all the details you provide are accurate. Once you've filled out the form, click the "Submit" button to send your request for removal.
Wait for Confirmation
After submitting the removal request, it's essential to wait for an email confirmation from email@example.com. Typically, the processing time for Barracuda delisting requests is around 12 hours, provided a valid explanation has been provided.
If you don't receive a confirmation within the expected time frame, it's advisable to contact Barracuda support for assistance.
6. Build and maintain a great sender reputation. That's crucial to land in inbox.
A. Use email warm up to get the best results
To have a great deliverability and deliver all your emails to the inbox of your recipients, you need a positive sender reputation. Your sender reputation is mostly influenced by how your recipients react to your emails.
In other words, the more positive engagement you get on your emails, the more likely you are to reach the inbox.
By getting positive interactions to your emails (openings, positive replies, stars, removing your emails from spam) it teaches the major mailbox providers, Google and Microsoft to put your emails in the inbox of their users.
That’s the job of MailReach’s email warm up service : generating a perfect email activity to your inbox by starting conversations with a network of thousands of inboxes. Each of your warming emails are opened, replied positively, marked as important and removed from spam. It raises your sender reputation and, in turn, your deliverability.
B. Follow the best practices
Specific to a cold emailing activity :
- If you send cold emails, 150 cold emails/day should be your maximum.
- If you send cold emails, always have an unsubscribe link
- Make sure your list is targeted, clean, up to date with no errors.
- Personalize your emails.
- Don't send too many follow ups and space them (cold emailing use case) : we recommend a minimum of 3 days between emails, 3 follow ups max to protect your reputation. We send only 2 follow ups at MailReach.
- Don't be too pushy.
Read all the best practices in our Ultimate Deliverability Guide : How to Prevent Emails from Going to Spam
In conclusion, keep in mind that being listed in the Barracuda Blacklist may impact your ability to reach your recipients if you target small ISPs / mail servers but if your recipients are mostly using Gmail, Google Workspace, Outlook, Office365 inboxes then it shouldn't have any direct impact.
In all cases, check if your IP or domain is listed, test your deliverability and address the issues that led to blacklisting. By following the delisting process and maintaining a good email reputation, you'll be able to ensure that your emails reach their intended recipients, safeguarding your business's reputation and fostering customer satisfaction.