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Bookmark and Share Debunking Popular Myths About Spamhaus

Category: Report
Updated: 2022-05-14
Statement Ref: S013

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Spammers love to make up myths about Spamhaus. Ever since Spamhaus began tracking spammers in the late 1990's spammers have attempted to circulate myths and disinformation about Spamhaus or Spamhaus staff by posting "astounding revelations" and "shocking truths about Spamhaus" to anonymous public forums.

Frequently, spammers masquerading as 'concerned internet users' post anonymous complaints on internet forums which invariably claim that Spamhaus or its directors and staff are: wanted criminals, fugitives on the run from 'the police', members of 'the Mafia', racketeers, blackmailers, extortionists, tax-evaders, tax fraudsters, money-launderers, international terrorists, members of Al Queda, members of the 'KKK', or all of the above. On occasions spammers and small cybercriminal hosts masquerading as 'freedom activists' have attempted to hijack public sympathy by claiming that Spamhaus is part of an evil global government conspiracy to "limit Internet Freedom" (they mean their freedom to spam and scam internet users).

The following are some of the more common myths spammers love to circulate about Spamhaus, its directors and staff:

Myth: "Spamhaus is a criminal and terrorist organisation"
    For over 20 years spammers have routinely claimed that Spamhaus is a criminal organization, with claims ranging wildly from the CEO of Spamhaus being a "wanted criminal on the run", our staff being convicted criminals, our organization being linked with Al-Queda, and other such nonsense.

    In reality, if any Spamhaus staff had any type of criminal association or record whatsoever, let alone be "wanted" by any government, Spamhaus would not be a member of International Law Enforcement work groups such as UCENET: UCENET Member Organizations, nor would Spamhaus receive awards from Law Enforcement Agencies such as FBI NCFTA:

    Likewise, were we to have any connection whatsoever to cybercrime or terrorism the FBI would not publicly declare a partnership with Spamhaus such as at:

Myth: "Spamhaus take bribes to remove listings"
    The Spamhaus Project is a self-financed organization that has no external income whatsoever. There is no way for anyone to make a payment to the Spamhaus Project, there is no donations or payment page/form/button on our site or bank account anyone can send anything to.

    We occasionally hear of spammers bragging to other spammers to have paid Spamhaus for removal of their records, but no spammer has ever been able to show any evidence of doing so.

    The notion that Spamhaus can be bribed to remove records is a myth propagated in the bars of bulk mailing events after a few too many Red Bulls and vodka. The obvious response of any intelligent listener should be: "Do you have evidence of this? Send it to the press!".

    (Note: Any demand by anyone for any type of payment to remove any listing from any Spamhaus database is always a fraud or scam. Never pay anything to anyone who claims to be able to remove listings from a Spamhaus database for a fee.)

Myth: "Spamhaus commits Blackmail and Extortion"
    Spamhaus's SBL Blocklist lists not only IPs directly sending spam, but importantly also IP ranges assigned to spammers and spam operations. Spammers naturally do not like this, and neither do some small 'spam-friendly' hosts whose business models attract spammers.

    Spamhaus SBL Policy additionally allows the SBL to escalate a listing further in cases of serious chronic spammer infection or persistent cybercrime hosting. No different to a Restaurant denying access to a patron not respecting the Restaurant's "no shirt, no shoes, no service" dress code, this policy effectively says that Spamhaus does not recommend to Spamhaus SBL Users the acceptance of electronic communications from such listed IPs or CIDR ranges while the host continues to allow a spam operation to operate from them. This SBL policy makes it difficult for bad hosts who would otherwise carry on hosting serious spam operations, to continue doing so if they also want to communicate with networks who use the SBL.

    Because the net effect of this policy applies pressure on bad hosts to cease abuse, spammers and bad hosts claim this policy is "Blackmail" or "Extortion" in an attempt to misrepresent SBL Policy as being somehow "illegal".

    (Note: Both blackmail and extortion are criminal offences. Spamhaus strongly recommends that all criminal acts be reported to the Police.)

Myth: "Spamhaus is a censorship organization"
    Spammers claim that by blocklisting their spam and sites selling spamware or spam services, Spamhaus 'censors' their spam/scams/pitches. Some further claim that Spamhaus's ROKSO SBL policy - which allows the SBL to also list additional IP addresses and domains belonging to known ROKSO spammers - means we also censor 'non-spamming content' belonging to the spammer. In reality Spamhaus has no interest whatsoever in the content of web sites (unless the content is selling spam services or distributing spamware/malware), we only list such IP addresses because they are under the control of known spammers and any IP under the control of a known spammer is a threat to Spamhaus users.

Myth: "Spamhaus blacklisted Wikileaks"
    Never happened. This myth was circulated by a Russian malware hosting gang known as "Heihachi" in 2010 and further propagated by a blocklisted Dutch cybercrime host known as 'Cyberbunker/CB3ROB' who attempted to trick members of the hacktivist group Anonymous into attacking Spamhaus on his behalf. Quite the contrary, in December 2010 Spamhaus had contacted Wikileaks to warn them that a Russian malware gang was trying to trick Wikileaks readers into visiting a fake 'Wikileaks' mirror in Russia on which the gang was also hosting trojan malware ready to infect users who visited. In fact the same Russian IP that was hosting was also hosting the rest of the crime gang's sites:
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    The Spamhaus malware warning report concerning this is here.

Myth: "The Russian Government has declared that Spamhaus is an illegal organization"
    Never happened. Russian spammers love to spread this myth, especially in responses to Russian ISPs who disconnect them. Occasionally a naive Russian ISP believes the myth and quotes it back to us.

Myth: "Spamhaus blocks whole ISPs because of one spam"
    There has never been a case in the history of Spamhaus where an ISP has been blocklisted because of one spam, nor even a small amount of spam. To reach the point of listing an entire ISP on the Spamhaus Block List requires a very serious volume of unchecked spamming or chronic spammer or cybercriminal hosting infestation. The listing of a whole ISP's netblocks can only occur where an ISP has gone 'rogue' and is overrun with spammers, has intentionally ignored all reports and listing warnings from Spamhaus and is intentionally providing a "Spam Support Service" for profit. It is extremely rare for any legitimate ISP to reach that point and usually only occurs with very small Eastern European, Russian and Asian ISPs in financial difficulty. Most cases where Spamhaus blocklists "whole ISPs" is where the 'ISP' involved is actually the spam gang simply pretending to be an 'ISP' and has no customers except for spammers.

Myth: "Spamhaus claims to be a non-profit to evade taxes"
    This myth relies on confusing non-profit corporations with charities. The Spamhaus Project is not a charity, The Spamhaus Project is a private Limited Liability Non-Profit corporation. Non-profit very simply means the company is structured not to make money for shareholders but to fulfil a mission. In Europe, any income earned by a non-profit company must be accounted for in annual accounts and standard corporation tax on all profits applies. In Europe a company's non-profit status can not in any way be used to evade or mitigate taxes.

Myth: "Spamhaus claims to be a non-profit but they make lots of money"
    This myth relies on mixing up, either through ignorance or intentional misdirection, European 'non-profit' and 'for-profit' company types and their purposes. The myth speculates that there must be somehow - somewhere, if only someone could find it - large amounts of undeclared income flowing into The Spamhaus Project non-profit company deriving from sales of commercial services such as the Spamhaus Datafeed sold by third-party for-profit companies such as commercial British Datafeed provider SpamTEQ.

    The myth's logic for why a third-party commercial company such as SpamTEQ would want to pass its profits not to its shareholders but to a non-profit company which is neither a parent nor subsidiary, and which thus then becomes new taxable income for the non-profit company, completely escapes us.

    The Spamhaus Project is an international Non-governmental non-profit organisation whose task is purely mission-based and not profit-based. As such The Spamhaus Project has no shareholders, no customers, no sales staff, and no desire to be involved in commerce. Our focus is entirely on fighting spam. Almost two decades ago The Spamhaus Project chose in its Blueprint for the Future to leave all commercial endeavours (such as supplying commercial Datafeed Services) to independent 3rd party Strategic Partners such as SpamTEQ, to enable The Spamhaus Project to concentrate solely on fighting spam. Details of The Spamhaus Project's current Strategic Partnerships are published here.

Myth: "Spamhaus gets information by hacking servers"
    Spamhaus does not even test for open-email-relays, let alone any other form of computer trespass. We do not do 'penetration testing', or test for server vulnerabilities, or do any other sort of "hacking." Our systems watch for overt, publicly accessible indications of spam and spam support, all things which can be publicly verified.

Myth: "Spamhaus wants to stop spam so that they can control the 'spam industry' for themselves"
    The myth that we are secretly spammers just out to eliminate our competition, is one of the oldest myths and almost too silly to dispel, yet it is still occasionally passed around. Spammers often are just not wired in a way where they can understand that life is not all about greed and making money through crime and annoying others. The Spamhaus team works to stop spam and related abuse so that vital Internet services such as email can remain the powerful communication mediums they have become.

Statements Index

Debunking Popular Myths About Spamhaus

Spammers Release Virus Programmed to Attack Spamhaus

Fraudulent fake DNSBL uncovered: Protected Sky (

Fraudulent fake DNSBL uncovered:

EMarketersAmerica vs. The Spamhaus Project

Case Answer: e360Insight vs. The Spamhaus Project

TRO Answer: e360Insight vs. The Spamhaus Project

Case Dismissed: Ames & McGee v The Spamhaus Project

Spamhaus IPv6 Blocklists Strategy Statement

Report on the criminal 'Rock Phish' domains registered at

Spamhaus Position on CAN-SPAM Act of 2003

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