A Tale of Monitoring DNS Blacklists

Prologue:

DNS Blacklist Jail

Have you been hauled off to DNS Blacklist jail without even knowing it?

It’s a Tuesday afternoon in Seattle and George’s finger hovers over the “Launch” button, his flannel shirt and short beard a  reflection on his desktop screen opened to the application that blasts his company’s email. Mouse…click.

Act I: Bowling Scores and Spam

Within seconds thousands of George’s finely-crafted emails are inviting  prospects to a big “spring fling” sales event for his company’s custom coffee filters. A few recipients of George’s email at a loose-tea company a few blocks away decide to report the ‘invite email” as spam. (Last week George’s bowling team beat their bowling team in a tournament and George scored the winning score, 115, in the final frame.)  Its all in good fun, they even send an email care of “One Strike George” telling George what they’re doing.

Click… the spam report is off to their ISP’s email administrator. Laughs and high fives all around. Their phone rings, its George, “Err, not cool,  wish you didn’t do that…”

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Dotcom-Monitor adds VictorOps as Integration Partner

Integration furthers speed and effectiveness of WebOps, DevOps, and network teams’ support of applications, networks, and infrastructures.

VictorOps
Minneapolis, MN May 29, 2014 – Dotcom-Monitor, a suite of website, application and Internet infrastructure monitoring platforms providing error and performance detection, diagnostics, and data for WebOps, DevOps, and network teams, today announced an integration with VictorOps. VictorOps, a collaboration and incident management platform designed for DevOps, joins the list of integrations with Dotcom-Monitor that deliver enterprise-ready support for large-scale infrastructures and applications.

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Innovations in Microsoft Exchange Monitoring

Microsoft Exchange MonitoringMicrosoft Exchange server email and calendar services are critical to the day-to-day operations of businesses around the world. How critical? In effect, if all the world’s Microsoft Exchange servers crashed today, about one-third of emails, purchase orders, and conference calls won’t happen.

Avoiding that type of vulnerability is what drives innovation. With that in mind, Dotcom-Monitor developed the most complete – both end-user perspective (external) and a server perspective (internal) –  Microsoft Exchange monitoring solution currently in the marketplace.

According to recent data from The Radicati Group, cloud-based mailboxes powered by Microsoft Exchange Server technology represent 31 percent of all worldwide business cloud mailboxes, with expected growth to 43 percent by 2018. In the on-premises messaging and collaboration market, Microsoft holds a 64 percent market share, and is expected to increase to 76 percent by 2018 as it wins business away from competitors.

Avoiding Microsoft Exchange Downtime

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CDN Monitoring and “Cheshire Cat” Websites

Cheshire CatContent Delivery Networks (CDNs) are critical for speeding up websites as websites continue to increase in size, add heavy media, and, as a result, slow down. The content of websites is getting more interesting, but the load speed is crawling. As elements of the page slowly load users experience the interesting but “disconcerting” digital equivalent of an Alice in Wonderland’s big, yellow-eyed smiling Cheshire cat – pieces of the website load irregularly resulting in disappearing “parts” and creepy “smiles” hanging in the air.

How big is the increase in website size? As noted in a previous post, the average size of websites bloated-up by an incredible 32 percent in 2013, according to performance indices from the HTTP Archive.  CDNs take a website’s static files—CSS, images and JavaScript, for example—and serve them on servers as close to the user’s physical location as possible. Larger websites implement CDNs to make sure web pages load as quickly as possible for their visitors from around the world. Having a CDN in place offers a level of redundancy as well. This is a good thing.

But, how can you tell if the Content Delivery Networks you’re paying for is actually speeding up the delivery of your entire Cheshire cat to your website users? CDN monitoring can help the IT department re-assert control (the IT department doesn’t have control over the servers that store the content when they use a CDN) by tracking the key metrics  that determine how a CDN performs. Is your Content Delivery Network living up to its SLA? Monitor it and find out.

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Another Neustar UltraDNS Outage

Neustar UltraDNS outage

Neustar UltraDNS Outage

A Dotcom-Monitor client monitoring report showing Neustar UltraDNS down.

April 30, 2014 – Neustar UltraDNS Down – Dotcom-Monitor is tracking a Neustar UltraDNS outage at this time. The UltraDNS outage appears to have started at approximately 10:34 am CST and extended to 12:47 noon while stabilizing. (UPDATE- As of 4:07 pm CST UltraDNS continues to experience DNS resolution instability.)

The UltraDNS issue resulted in (as it should) error alerts to clients. Monitoring that does not cache DNS is detecting the UltraDNS outage. Clients themselves may not see the DNS issue unless they clear their DNS cache and attempt to connect to affected website and web applications.

UltraDNS is a DNS service provider owned by Neustar Corporation, which also owns associated companies including Webmetrics website monitoring and other services.

Dotcom-Monitor will continue to research the Neustar UltraDNS down issue and provide details as they become clear.

Dotcom-Monitor had captured a similar outage in January of 2013.

UltraDNS Outage DNS Down Timeout by Location

This chart shows a Dotcom-Monitor client device erroring out on 4/30/2014 due to UltraDNS issues.

Check DNS propagation from nearly two dozen different root locations with our free DNS Trace Test Tool.