NinerNet Communications™
System Status

Server and System Status

Connectivity issue at London data centre

27 December 2015 06:52:18 +0000

The London data centre has been suffering from the effects of a couple of denial of service (DoS) attacks over the last 12 or so hours. The attack late yesterday (26 December) lasted about an hour and a half. Today’s attack started at 05:37 UTC and is currently ongoing. The data centre staff assure us that they have identified the problem and are implementing a fix for it.

This affects server NC023 (the relay server) and server NC027 (the main mail server), as well as virtual private servers hosted in London. As far as we know, the servers themselves are up and connected to the network, but the attack is causing them to be inaccessible.

We’ll update here as soon as we know more.

NC023: Maintenance complete

1 November 2015 03:34:56 +0000

The upgrades to server NC023 completed at 03:22 UTC. We will run some tests to ensure that everything is fine.

If you have any issues with server NC023, please let us know. Thank-you.

NC023: Maintenance underway

1 November 2015 02:21:27 +0000

Server NC023 went down for maintenance at 02:20 UTC. The server may be up and down a few times over the next hour.

NC023: Server maintenance

1 November 2015 02:03:11 +0000

Server NC023 will be going down within the next hour for up to an hour for some operating system upgrades and disk management. We’ll post updates here as necessary, but we don’t expect that this will affect many clients.

NC023: Emergency maintenance complete

22 October 2015 21:20:45 +0000

The emergency maintenance on server NC023 started at precisely 20:00 UTC and was completed successfully by 20:23 UTC.

There is actually a third server that needs the same work as the two that have already been attended to. We will post our plan for that later today.

Upcoming emergency server maintenance

19 October 2015 13:04:30 +0000

We have scheduled emergency maintenance this week for two of our servers to address a yet-to-be-published security vulnerability in the underlying virtualisation software these servers use.

The schedule is as follows:

Please click on the dates and times to convert the time of the maintenance into your local time zone. Server NC023 is commonly referred to by those that use it as the “relay server”, and server NC027 is our primary mail server.

The maintenance window will be approximately two hours long, but often ends up being much shorter. During the maintenance window the servers and everything hosted on them will be inaccessible. Any incoming mail for domains hosted on the mail server will be queued on the sending mail servers until our mail server is back online; email will be delayed during this time, but not lost. You will be unable to send email or access the webmail during the maintenance window. No websites will be affected.

While we are aware that this maintenance is scheduled during part of the work day for some of our clients, we are unable to change that due to the demands of this effort. We sincerely apologise for that.

We will post updates here and in alerts on our website before, during and after the maintenance.

We appreciate your patience with our efforts to keep our infrastructure and yours secure. If you have any questions, please let us know. Thank-you.

NC023: Spam cleaned up

26 January 2014 15:45:01 +0000

The spam on server NC023 (the relay server) has been cleaned up and the offending IP address blocked. Most of the legitimate email to destination servers that had been deferred as a result of the spam has also now been delivered; however, some mail servers are still not accepting email from this server, so that email will continue to be delayed a while longer until their systems are automatically updated to realise that this server is no longer spamming. This is currently only affecting about twenty messages.

We apologise for this interruption. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact NinerNet support. Thank-you for your patience.

NC023: Relay server stopped to clean up spam

26 January 2014 13:28:29 +0000

The relay server has been stopped while we clean up a spam outbreak, and identify and block the source. We will post updates here. We expect to have the server back online within the next 30-40 minutes.

Email migration: Update 13

16 October 2013 10:09:43 +0000

Since the migration of many email accounts to the new server, we’ve had reports of email from some regular correspondents (with email hosted outside of NinerNet) to domains hosted on the new server bouncing back to those senders as undeliverable. All of these reports, so far, are about the same improper configuration of Microsoft Exchange mail servers.

A person sending you an email through a mis-configured mail server will receive a bounce message that includes an explanation for the bounce that looks like this: #554 5.7.1 <senderdomain.local>: Helo command rejected: Go away, bad guy (.local).

The problem is the “senderdomain.local” string. In this case “senderdomain” stands in for an actual name — e.g., something that looks like it might be a domain — followed by “.local”. A properly configured mail server that connects to the public Internet is supposed to advertise a “fully-qualified domain name” (FQDN) through the “HELO” (or “EHLO”) command rather than “something.local”, which is not a real domain. Many mail servers, including ours, reject attempts to deliver mail from improperly configured mail servers advertising a “domain” that does not (or cannot) exist. The reason for this is that much spam comes from machines that are improperly configured in this manner. More technical details about this can be read in theĀ Best Practises for Email and Network Operators – Valid HELO domain article.

Your correspondents will likely think that we are blocking their domain specifically (very likely that we are NOT) or that something is otherwise wrong on our mail server. However, it is the other way around; your correspondents experiencing this problem need to talk to their own IT people, perhaps pointing them to this post, as their mail server needs to be reconfigured correctly.

The article Exchange DNS Configuration for Email Delivery includes a number of helpful hints for the Exchange server administrator about how to properly configure an Exchange server to work correctly on the Internet with respect to domains and DNS. About half way down the page are sections entitled SMTP Banner – Exchange 2003 and SMTP Banner – Exchange 2007 that explain how to set the SMTP banner — i.e., the domain that is advertised by the Exchange server when it connects to another mail server to attempt to deliver email. As mentioned previously, this needs to be a proper domain that is resolvable on the Internet, not something that doesn’t exist like “senderdomain.local”.

Our experience is that when an Exchange server is correctly reconfigured, email from that server starts getting through again immediately, and deliveries to other servers that do not block based on this incorrect behaviour are not affected.

Another possible solution to this problem is for the Exchange server to use a smart host, through which all outbound email is delivered to the public Internet. This has a number of advantages, including not having to reconfigure the SMTP banner and the fact that the server administrator doesn’t have to be concerned about their own IP address being added to a block list if (again as a result of mis-configuration) the server inadvertently becomes the source of spam. NinerNet provides this service (relay server / smart host) for USD30 / CAD36 / ZMW165 per month.

Or you could send Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 For Dummies to the sending domain’s server administrator!

Server NC023 maintenance complete

4 May 2013 19:38:02 +0000

Server NC023 went down for maintenance at 19:22 UTC and was back online at 19:32 after successful completion of its maintenance.

Thanks for your patience.

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This blog provides information about the status of NinerNet Communications systems. Dates and times of posts to this blog are in the UTC time zone, and dates and times given for events are also in the UTC time zone, although conversions may be offered for some time zones common to our clients. Please use the World Time Server to ensure accurate conversion of dates and times to your own time zone.



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