Top 15 Server Security Practices for 2020

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In this article, we will denote the security best practices for 2020 and beyond. Because security is such a challenging subject for many, it often goes unheeded, and as such, many are caught unaware when an issue arises. By following these best practices, you can significantly lower your risk of being compromised by a malicious actor.

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Interworx vs. cPanel: Part 2

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In the second part of our review, we will be looking at the Web Server, FTP Server, SSH Server and lastly the Mail Server sections of the InterWorx main menu and comparing them to the available options in WHM. Let’s start with the System Services menu.

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Best Practices For Changing Your Email Marketing Provider

Reading Time: 3 minutesIf you are using one of our Managed application platforms like ManagedWooComerce or Managed WordPress, now may be an optimal time to look into switching your email provider to a different service.

managed email

MailChimp made a change earlier in the year to become more of a marketing platform, which was also accompanied by a pricing increase in their plans. Due to this change, we have reviewed several reliable options which may make choosing a replacement easier! We considered three other services which may be a better alternative; they are EmailOctopus, Moosend, and MailBuster. 

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How to Use the Mail Queue Manager in WHM

Reading Time: 3 minutesThe Mail Queue Manager feature in WHM allows you to view, delete, and attempt to deliver queued emails that have not yet left the server. It can be a handy tool for diagnosing a variety of issues with mail deliverability, such as spotting signs of a compromised account sending spam from the server.

Accessing Mail Queue Manager in WHM

If you are unfamiliar with how to access WebHost Manager (WHM), you can take a look at our article Getting Started with WHM.

Once logged into WHM, you can navigate to the Mail Queue Manager page by inputting the text “mail queue” into the search box above the left menu, then click the Mail Queue Manager option:

mail queue manager link in WHM

Searching for Queued Emails

From the Mail Queue Manager main page you will see a section for searching through these queued emails. You can input either a Sender, Recipient, or Message ID (a unique identifier the mail server gives each email sent and received) to filter through the queued messages.

Once you input a search for one of these options, select the corresponding option from the Select Query dropdown menu next to the text box: Search Sender, Search Recipient, or Search Message ID.

You can also select No Filter if you do not want to restrict the search to one of these specific options.

The search filter also includes a section to select a particular time frame by entering a Start Date and End Date. This will filter the search results down to emails that fall within this time frame. Please note: WHM only retains this data for 10 days, so email outside of that time frame will not be included in the search results.

Once you’ve input the text to search, and selected the filter options, click the Run Report button.

Below is an example of a search for all messages in which the sender of the email matches “user@domain.com”:

mail queue search screenshot

Viewing Queued Emails

To view an email currently in the queue, under the Actions column, click the magnifying glass icon:

example of email in the mail queue

This will display the email’s simple headers, text content, and provide you with options to delete the email, attempt delivery, download the email in .eml format (which you can open in mail client applications such as Microsoft Outlook), or view the email’s extended headers and control data:

example of email header detail in the mail queue

Delivering Queued Emails

As shown above, you can view a specific email and click Deliver Message Now to attempt delivery of the message. You can also select messages from the main page of the Mail Queue Manager and click Deliver Selected:

detailed view of the mail queue

The option Deliver All will attempt to send out all emails currently in the queue.

Deleting Queued Emails

To delete an email currently in the queue, you can view a specific email using the instructions above and then click Delete Message.
Multiple emails can be deleted from the queue using the main page of the Mail Queue Manager. You can either select each email you’d like to remove and then click Delete Selected, or you can remove all queued emails by clicking Delete All.

Unfreezing Frozen Queued Emails

You may see emails listed as Frozen under the Status column. These are emails that failed to deliver after multiple attempts, so in order to help the queue continue to run efficiently, the system will ‘freeze’ these emails. To unfreeze an email, you can click the second icon under actions:

frozen email in the mail queue

Once unfrozen, the email will attempt to send during the next queue run. Forcing a delivery attempt of a frozen email will also unfreeze the selected email.

Multiple frozen emails in the queue may indicate an issue that requires further investigation, such as a remote mail server blocking the mail transaction.

For more information on diagnosing email deliverability issues, you can take a look at our article entitled Troubleshooting: RBLs and Email Delivery Problems (Rejected Email Messages).

Gmail Blacklist

Reading Time: 4 minutes

As one of the most trusted email providers, Google keeps top-notch security by maintaining their own blacklist and security information. With the numerous users the company provides email accounts to, there is an overwhelming amount of data that Google can scrutinize for spam or malicious emails. By gathering this valuable information, rules are created to filter problem content. These rules are highly sophisticated, and as this data is compiled, specific IP addresses are flagged and sorted into what is called a blacklist.

The Gmail blacklist is designed to prevent unwanted spam, malicious content and excessive amounts of emails. Some of the most common reasons for getting blocked are as follows;

  • Large amounts of emails sent from a new IP address.
  • Sudden changes in email volumes.
  • High bounce rates.
  • Spam reports from Gmail users.
  • Incorrect DNS settings.
  • Low sender scores.
  • IP listing in public blacklists.

Gmail’s blacklist may also take information from several public blacklists in order to block malicious/unwanted/compromised IP addresses prior to having any complaints from them. This is a preventative measure intended to keep the lowest amount of spam possible. All things considered, this is the reason your Gmail address will likely have far less unwanted emails or better filtering rules.

 

There are several effects to being on the Gmail blacklist, and the most obvious is that all email from the IP address sending mail will be blocked. This means everything including personal communication, bulk messages, email lists, etc. Not only will it block the problem domain or user, but everything else on the SMTP server attempting to use that IP address.

This poses a large issue for shared IP addresses on any server. But there is hope! Both in the form of preventative measures as well as ways to redeem your IP address and clear it from the blacklist. Before clearing your IP address we highly suggest you review the information to make sure nothing has been compromised. Blacklists often mean an email has been hacked, or there are just poor emailing practices.

Preventatively, you can protect the IP you are using with SPF records should you have no current issues. These records will assist in providing additional verification for the IP address you are using and help keep your IP clean.

 

If you’re already experiencing issues with Gmail delivery, then the first step is to diagnose the SMTP server. If this is a managed environment, it’s best to contact your hosting provider and ask them to review the specific email address having issues. Be sure to include example messages, any bouncebacks you’ve received and any specifics you can remember. (Subject lines, recipients, time of email, etc.) This should help in the retrieval of data.

You can actually get a full copy of the headers of any messages having issues directly from your email client. If you need information on how to do this, you can always check out this article. View full e-mail headers.

If you are having trouble delivering mail and can’t find any fault on your SMTP server, then it’s time to search some blacklists to test the waters. One of the most reputable places to start is mxtoolbox.com. Although Gmail does not state what mechanisms they use to blacklist, this site allows you to search your domain and query a large number of blacklists that should tell you if there are issues coming from your server. Along with cleanup instructions and links to each blacklist, this site is a handy tool for anyone looking to admin their own email.

There are several other sites that can be referenced for blacklist checking, but unfortunately, the only way to get information from Google specifically. If you are not on a blacklist and there are no issues coming from the SMTP server, then it’s time to fill out a Delivery Problem Form. This form asks for basic information as well as any technical information you can provide. The more information you can provide, the easier your process will become for a listing check and possible removal or de-listing.

From there, Google should help you through the rest of the process or provide further information that will move the issues along. But that still leaves us with one question….

 

Well, the guidelines differ depending on what you are using email for. As some of us just use email for personal use the rules are pretty simple. Don’t send malicious content, make sure you don’t attempt to use huge files or send to everyone in your address book every thirty minutes for no reason, etc. These are all suspicious behaviors or hard rules that will either fail or cause issues.

Really we can boil the best practices down to a few important rules of thumb.

  • Do not spam.
    • This includes redirects. Google has specific best practices for pulling email from other accounts, so setting up forwarders in other SMTP servers to shovel all mail over to Google addresses will simply count as spam.
  • Follow the bulk mail guidelines.
  • Pull, don’t push.
    • Meaning import messages or set Google to pull from a third party; don’t forward to Google automatically. (Manual forwarding to share information is perfectly fine.)
  • Use SPF records.
    • SPF records are great added security and verification.
  • Change your passwords frequently.
    • Remember, passwords are vital and knowing the best practices for safe passwords is very important.
  • Watch for, and read bounceback emails.

Following the few suggestions above will keep your SMTP server healthy and happy. When all information intended for Google is pulled via their methods, the likeliness of being blocked for false positives (meaning blocked for legitimate practices done incorrectly) will go down exponentially.

don’t hesitate to contact our support department for more answers! You can reach us via our tollfree number at 1-800-580-4985, or, use our International number at 517.322.0434. You can also open a ticket with us using the support@liquidweb.com email or, open a ticket from your Manage interface. Lastly, there’s always our chat option if you need quick info on smaller issues. Whatever means you choose, do not hesitate to contact us, as we are always standing by to offer our assistance and support! Thanks for hosting with Liquidweb!

 

 

Change Primary Domain in WHM

Reading Time: 4 minutesIf you use multiple aliases ( previously called parked domains) within a cPanel account, you may find yourself wanting to change the main domain used for the cPanel account containing these domains. Changing the primary domain is desirable for multiple reasons and many times occurs when the site in use switches from one TLD to another (i.e., .net to .com). You may desire to change this if the name of your company or site Continue reading “Change Primary Domain in WHM”

Remove a Domain from our Email Hosting Service

Reading Time: 2 minutesOur email hosting service takes the pain out of setting up email within a VPS.  You get your own space, separate from your VPS to do simple tasks like setting up a domain to have email.  If you haven’t already explored the features of our Premium Business Email, we offer robust services like Microsoft Exchange that over up to 1TB worth of space!  Alternatively, if you are looking for something smaller, our Standard and Plus mail service may fit your needs with 25 GB worth of space. Check out how straightforward it is to delete a domain from our user-friendly control panel.

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Reset Passwords in PBE and Hosted Exchange

Reading Time: 3 minutesResetting passwords in your Premium Business Email and Hosted Exchange is a painless experience with the tools available for either self-service password recovery or by having an administrator change your password for you. This tutorial will outline how to recover a lost or forgotten password in your email account. Continue reading “Reset Passwords in PBE and Hosted Exchange”