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Posted by The Spamhaus Team on 9 Sep 2022
Are you a user of the forum software, phpBB? Have you recently started getting an error from Spamhaus preventing you from posting? If so, you’re in the right place – we’ll explain what’s going on (it’s not you, it’s them!), how you can remediate with three simple clicks, and a watch out for the longer term.
If you are worried that Spamhaus has listed you and it’s preventing you from posting to phpBB, set that worry aside. Using the Spamhaus Checker, you’ll likely see you are not listed by Spamhaus – great news!
For anyone who is seeing a listing and it’s on the Policy Blocklist (PBL), please keep reading. This advice still very likely applies to you.
So what is causing the issue? The phpBB software itself; we believe the software is using legacy data which is causing issues. It’s likely some development work is required. Fortunately though, there’s a straightforward fix that you can carry out to get the software working again.
… or rather, here are the fixes – you have two options:
Use a non-public DNS resolver for your phpBB software. How will that fix things? At a very high level, queries from an open resolver, like Cloudflare or Google DNS, are causing this error – we’ll return to this shortly.
The phpBB software has been developed so you can easily turn off the queries to the Spamhaus data. Here’s how you do it:
Please note: (without stating the obvious) if you choose this second option IPs will no longer be checked against Spamhaus’ reputation datasets.
Let’s delve into the point of using an open resolver. Where queries are being made outside of The Spamhaus Project’s Fair Use Policy, e.g., if queries come via an open resolver, those queries are blocked. This is to protect The Project’s infrastructure – you can read more on this here.
Error codes have been introduced to provide a clear signal that there is an issue for users. We suspect the phpBB software is misinterpreting these error codes, determining them as “everything is blocked” … and ultimately blocking users from posting.
The ultimate fix is for the phpBB software configuration to be updated to point to the FREE Spamhaus Data Query Service (DQS). This will allow queries to continue from an open resolver.
So if you work for phpBB or can support us with an introduction to help get the necessary fix made, please let us know via Twitter or LinkedIn.
What we said at the beginning is still very likely to remain true – it’s not you, it’s phpBB. Your PBL listing is not at all likely to be causing you an issue with phpBB. Far more probable is the two are entirely unrelated. For more info on the PBL, click here.
So please, take the remedial steps outlined above – it’s likely to land you the fix you need.
We’re hopeful we can make contact and work with phpBB to get the necessary changes made. Once implemented, if you took the second – more temporary – fix, make sure to a) update the software and then b) set “check IP against DNS blockhole list” back to yes so you benefit from the free data once more.
22 September 2022
Are you currently using the Spamhaus Project’s DNS Blocklists (DNSBLs) and use Amazon Web Services' DNS? If you've answered "yes" to both of these questions, you need to make some changes to your email infrastructure.
17 January 2022
Are you currently using the Spamhaus Project’s DNS Blocklists (DNSBLs) and use Cloudflare’s DNS? If you've answered "yes" to both of these questions, you need to make some changes to your email infrastructure.
11 February 2021
The Spamhaus Project are introducing error codes to indicate when no data is being returned. If you're using these blocklists ensure you check your MTA configuration.