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AWS experimenting with actually supporting DNS for users

Sharp eyes to Shlomo Swidler, who posted an update to an old thread and an old complaint on AWS – getting lumped into spam blacklists. EC2 staffer “Steve@AWS” announced the availability of a private beta today to institute PTR records for selected users to assist in getting them off real-time blacklists- a standard DNS tool conspiciously absent in AWS.

A major problem for AWS and EC2 since its inception is that users with the publically generated EC2 IP addresses handed out by Amazon are extremely susceptible to getting stuck on spam blacklists, like Spamhaus or Trend Micro’s (Spamhaus is by far the more influential).

Read coverage about the most severe blacklist to date here.

It’s been an ongoing problem because Amazon doesn’t provide the usual level of service for users running websites or sending email from within EC2. Most hosts provide ways for an email server to politely verify that it does, in fact, originate with the domain name it says it does. PTR records do that and they have become a de facto standard for email hosts. Without them, a spam complaint can knock entire swaths of IP addresses out of the daylight and get tagged as spam providers.

The only way for hosts to get unflagged after their IPs are dirtied up with the spammer label is for the host provider to individually verify and notify the blacklist provider that the address is good. Amazon, being very highly automated and very popular, doesn’t do that well, and it took the blackout by Spamhaus last year to force the cloud provider to open up and start to reform its practices of not responding to customers having email trouble.

Hopefully this private beta is a sign that Amazon is going further and moving towards accepting more of its responsibilities as a web host- after all, giving out the address means you need to police the streets, collect the garbage and make sure the mail can go through. Hosters have taken this on their shoulders since the telecoms washed their hands of responsibilities around spam a decade now- its well past time for Amazon to join in.

UPDATE: Amazon confirms they are adding new features for DNS and conducting a private beta for selected users.

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