Service Providers Should Immediately Inform Users About Incidents Affecting Their Services

Yesterday Tiscali, a leading UK ISP, admitted that they were “experiencing issues with outbound emails” having been targeted by spammers which resulted in other ISPs blocking emails sent via their service. For the past few days they have been installing new hardware to address this problem, which seems to have caused further disruption to customer services.

Of coures it’s good that Tiscali are admitting to – and responding to – an identified security issue. But reports of problems with Tiscali outbound email have been circulating on the Internet for more than a week. And the nature of the problem seems to have been such that customers did not been receive error messages informing them that their outbound emails were disappearing into the ether. So many important business and personal communications may have been lost for good.

There are three main learning points from this incident. The first is to ensure that you have fallback arrangements for your email services. The second is to ensure you have controls to identify when emails are not being received by recipients. And the third one is for service providers to realise that customers should be informed immediately of service problems so that they can invoke contingency plans.

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