Answered By: Doug Reese
Last Updated: Sep 04, 2014     Views: 45

Email errors that aren't due to a problem on the sending end will result in what is usually referred to as a "bounce message." This is an email message back to you that contains the message you sent, plus additional information about the problem. There is usually a numeric error code, like 554, at the beginning of the error message text; this code indicates why the message delivery failed. The code 554 is a fairly generic code, but it is frequently used to indicate that your mail server has been blacklisted (there is a handy online tool to check), and the intended recipient of the message, using that information, has blocked your message. The message text accompanying this code may refer to your "MTA" (mail transfer agent--in other words, your mailserver) and "poor reputation" (as an unreliable server that sends spam).

So the problem is most likely that, once again, Lehigh's mail server has been blacklisted. This occurs when someone at Lehigh responds to a phishing email causing their account to be breached and subsequently used to send spam. The breach is usually quickly discovered and the account locked, but by then, the damage has already been done. Once the server has been blacklisted, there is nothing you or we can do about it. All we can do is wait for the blacklisting to expire (typically about two weeks). The only way to prevent this from happening is for everyone at Lehigh to be careful to avoid falling for phishing scams--it only takes one person making a mistake to affect everyone else.

In the meanwhile, a workaround for sending email is to log into Lehigh Gmail to send your messages. You can do this even though you do not use Lehigh Gmail to receive mail. Replies to your messages will automatically come back to your normal Lehigh email, so you don't need to check or use the Gmail account for anything else. You only need to send from Lehigh Gmail to recipients who are subscribed to the blacklist that Lehigh is currently listed on. Hopefully, this will only be a fraction of the people with whom you regularly correspond.

To send from Lehigh Gmail, just go to the Lehigh Google Apps page: http://www.lehigh.edu/google, and click on Mail. Log in using your normal Lehigh credentials (username and password), and click on the big red Compose button in the upper left side of the page. You may want to include your own email address as a CC: (courtesy copy) on the message, becuase when you send from Lehigh Gmail, a copy goes in the Sent folder on Gmail, rather than your usual Sent folder on the legacy mailserver.