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back to article Microsoft's Hotmail 'blacklists' NHS email - again

NHS staff can finally send emails to Hotmail accounts again, seven days after some healthcare workers complained to Microsoft that their messages were being blocked. It’s not the first time the NHS has been shunned by Microsoft’s Hotmail. In May this year all addresses in the nhs.uk namespace were reportedly being blocked …

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FAIL

It's not that uncommon unfortunately

As one of those affected, this happens a lot, our IT dept just warn us as if it is now routine. This particular outbreak was started last week according to our internal memo.

Every time the Govt loses data, we get more security imposed on us. In case we do the same. As a result we can't use any email account but our own and they all go through one IP for our PCT. As a result it gets worse each time.

MS are just shit at looking after their customers, given peoples lives are at risk you would think they would pull their finger out.

Personally I want the NHS to go from MS, third biggest employer, also third biggest customer to walk away????? We could pay any number of linux or apple makers to bring up a system to replace it, hell for the money we waste on MS we could write our own operating systems.

AC as I should be working.

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Not surprised

I'm not surprised that all NHS mail addresses were blocked the amount of junk that goes through them is incredible.

People within my company regularly get chain letter emails and other such junk forwarded on to them from people within the NHS. You know the kind "forward this email to ten people you know" and get rich, something good happens to you, otherwise you die kinda thing.

These junk emails have usually gone through hundreds of different companies and have most of the recipients email addresses listed in the email.

If the NHS wasn't such an important organisation i'd block them as well.

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IT money wasted...

"Hell, for the money we waste on MS we could write our own operating systems."

Now replace "MS" by "NHS IT". Is the new statement as true, or truer?

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Anonymous Coward

red herring

"given peoples lives are at risk " is a complete red herring.

The issue here is the blocking of mail between NHS mail and Hotmail. Email relating to the care, treatment and support of patients should be exchanged over NHS mail, not between NHS mail and hotmail.

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NHS incompetence

I assume like others, hotmail blocked NHS IP ranges because of the volumes of spam(UCE)and infected emails originatiing from those ranges.

As with our complaints I expect they are as p**d off as us with the lack of response.

I see no reason why the NHS IP ranges shoudl NOT be blacklisted if they do not respond positively to complaints and leave botnet systems spewing crap.

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Grenade

Could it be a conspiracy ....

Microsoft hosts NHS.Net email addresses on an excahnge system, could blocking trust addresses be a sly way to get trusts to tranfer to the new system ?

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Flame

@AC

What does the fact that the NHS use Microsoft products have to do with staff emailing hotmail accounts? You can't say it's anything to do with safety critical systems to have your mail blocked by Hotmail.

Who the heck would use MS in a safety critical system anyway? Certainly not in a level 3 or 4.

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Really though...

Should things where lives are "at risk" be dependent on email? Maybe I'm just old before my time, but I like to think if my life was at risk for the taxes I pay I'd get something a little more substantial.

Also, it's not just the NHS that suffer from this sort of palava - it's happened to our email system a few times here as well (I suspect at least one of the times was caused by a competitor...) - and it's a pain to get removed from the blocklists. Having said that, I'd be sure MS must have a global whitelist somewhere that they can add .nhs.uk to?

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WTF?

Hotmail????

You mean to tell me that the third largest employer in The World uses Hotmail???

Well I'll go to the foot of our stairs Palm forehead palm............ WHY fordog sakes????

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Black Helicopters

NHSMail vs. NHS mail

Please note that only Trusts still operating their own email systems (in the .nhs.uk namespace) were affected. The NHSMail system (*@nhs.net) was not - that system is the ONLY email system certified for the transmission of Patient Data.

The fact that Connecting for Health want all Trusts still on nhs.uk to move to their darling nhs.net system (given the large amout of cash spent on it) has absolutely NO bearing on the fact that only nhs.uk was affected...

Anonymous, because I work in IT in the NHS.

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Anonymous Coward

NHS are spammers

they send unsolicited emails, they deserve all they get. The other spammers are HMRC.

Simple just to report them to the various spam blacklists, bloody spammers.

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Gold badge

Spam,spam,spam,spam,spam,spam,spam,spam....Lovely SPAAAM, wonderful SPAAM.....

That'll be why.

Plenty of NHS pwnage stories round here in recent times and those are only the ones they officially 'fess up to. Large employer = lots of muppets using PCs. Couple that to an IT strategy that consists of piling money on the floor and burning it while shoving their heads up their arses and what do you get?

Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam.....Lovely SPAAAM, wonderful SPAAAM!

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Gates Horns

@Jacqui

Your assumption is not necessarily valid. While I live in the USA and cannot have an informed opinion of your NHS, I do know that Micro$lop uses some kind of proprietary e-mail filtering ( I don't recall the name of it right now ) that has a nasty habit of generating false positives. I have had my e-mail address blocked from sending to those few of my contacts who are silly enough to use Hotmail, and I've never been able to figure out why the stuff I send generates "complaints", since no such thing happens with any other recipient of the SAME message(s).

In my case, the block usually goes away after a few days, and in most cases the messages are not time critical, so after my first experience in trying to contact Micro$not to resolve the issue, now I just ignore it ( like I do with most products from the rain-soaked mental defectives in the Pacific Northwest ;).

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FAIL

@ John Dougald McCallum

Yes it would be pretty stupid for a company the size of NHS to use web mail ... but is also pretty stupid for one to comment on an article one clearly hasn't bothered to read (well for your sake, I hope you didn't read it).

Giant palm ... giant forhead ... giant slap ...

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WTF?

@ John Dougald McCallum

As per Anthony13, do you skim read all online articles to look for ways to bash companies you dislike, or was this a one off?

What upsets me is that my franchised vote is worth the same as your vote...

I *vote* for a system suggested by John Oliver on the Bugle podcast (via The Times Online) recently: if someone is willing to break the law and cast multiple votes, then those votes should be worth 'more'. This is to balance those who couldn't be bothered to vote because - for instance - it is a bit drizzly that morning, or those who simply turn up and ponder, "now who was it that Daddy votes for again?"

Hence those who take the time to make rational, reasoned arguments should have those comments emboldened or highlighted in some way. And comments like yours should be faded or hidden in some way, or have a small discrete 'f*ckn*ts' icon of some sorts attached to them.

*/Breathes again/*

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Anonymous Coward

policy explained here

http://www.connectingforhealth.nhs.uk/systemsandservices/addressing/domainnames/nhsuk_namespace_policy :

"Mail abuse originating from an nhs.uk address but outside N3[the nhs network] could result in barring being made against all nhs.uk users as the barring is at domain level and would indicate nhs.uk as an untrustworthy source."

Looks like TPTB at the NHS understand the problem: they're effectively using microsoft to enforce NHS policy on the outlying numpties with dicky email setups.

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FAIL

It wasn't just NHS.net that was blocked

My Forename.Surname@GP-Exxxxxx.nhs.uk email account was also blocked from sending emails to Hotmail.

I'd like to think it was Microsoft's incompetence, but the NHS can usually beat them for incompetence.

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Pint

NHS Mail? More like NHS Fail.

Oh, I do not envy those working for the NHS in IT for a Trust in Nottinghamshire that provides Healthcare.

I heard recently that they had a 'tard who setup a auto forward of their internal email address to a hotmail address with read reciepts and other such annoyances switched on. Notwithstanding its against policy and procedure, blah blah blah.

Something happened that caused a endless loop... and all of a sudden NHS mail gets blocked by Hotmail.

Is this rinse and repeat time? Most 'tards in the NHS when you explain something to them just look at you blankly, the same look as if you ask a 4 year old the square root of 4,778,224, then divide the answer into the original number and give the answer to 15 decimal places.

Anon as they have black helicopters you know.....

And beer... as most managers are enough to drive you to drink.

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FAIL

NHS, IT, carp!

It works, or rather it doesn't, both ways. I can't e-mail my wife at work (NHS) with Hotmail as the trust she works for has blacklisted Hotmail. One of her team has patients who only use webmail and is tearing their hair out trying to keep the daily round of communiucations going...NHS, IT, CARP!

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NRT
Gates Horns

Why are MS blocking at such a high level?

If MS spotted a machine spewing spam from smallfactory.co.uk I suspect many people would be a little surprised if they responded by blocking the .co.uk domain.

Here they spotted spam from smallhospital.nhs.uk and promptly blocked the higher level, why?

Can you imagine the screams of outrage from Westminster if they tried that on .gov.uk?

(I suspect it's just a way of persuading the holdouts to move to .nhs.net).

Nick.

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FAIL

Sooooooo....

"The issue was caused by a high volume of SPAM messages being sent to Windows Live accounts which triggered Microsoft’s anti-spam software to block some emails," said a spokesman.

So basically the NHS is riddled with spambots yes?

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Flame

Wish it could stay blocked

I am glad it got blocked, it stopped people from sending their useless bits of crap out that have got nothing to do with work.

I am sick and tired of having to deal with all the spam users generate because they register with some bloody stupid site that keeps sending inane bollocks through the already over burdened system.

If only we could ban all email, internet access or even computer usage until users have a basic idea of what they are doing, whilst writing down their username and password on a piece of paper and then attaching it to the monitor.

When users cant even plug in a computer and then whine that it doesnt work and that IT dont answer the phones, which is normally due to people forgetting the name of their son/daughter/pet or other dictionary based easy to guess password, it makes me laugh that hotmail cant receive emails.

Now to go and recharge the cattle prod!

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FAIL

few of us rely upon NHS.Net mail, so we need other services

Not that Hotmail is my choice, but anyone working in the NHS who relied upon the "company" email system would be an optimist, and i think there is a dearth of those nowadays.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

My 2 pence worth

I agree with Cantankerous Old Buzzard and NRT.

I believe that a lot of this is muscle flexing to get everyone onto the new NHS IT system, carp though it is.

But also

I get blocked so often by Hotmail, on non spamming accounts with three different providers that whenever someone gives me a .hotmail email address I tell them

"No, sorry; I won't write to or accept emails from Hotmail: set up an account with Yahoo or Google"

So both could be correct, and knowing who things work, i suspect that BOTH are right!!!

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Anonymous Coward

It wasn't us (this time)

The May incident originated at a trust in London, the cause was the same as mentioned by the AC on Friday said happened in Nottingham. I was quite relieved that this one wasn't us, er, I mean them, again.

As for mail being blocked at the NHS.UK level, it's because all NHS mail comes out of N3 via the (pitifully crap) NHS Relay. This means that all NHS mail has the same originating address.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Anonymous Coward

local council setup even worse

At least they rejected the message - the outfit that has been outsourced to deal with our local councils email silently drops messages it deems spam.

I have a particular non-spam email I tried to send to someone, and it was a week before I realised they had never received it.

Other messages 'usually' get through, but this exact same email can be sent time and time again, and it won't get through... No attachments, or 8 bit weirdness - just a 10ish line text message, sent from a valid domain with a valid spf record etc. to a single address.

Yet, although it's reproducable, they won't look into the problem. Our tax pounds at work!

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Pint

The NHS erectile dysfunction specialist units....

Have gone pack to using pen and paper for all correspondence.

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Well done

As hotmail user (and not in the UK) this makes good sense to me.

Domain X produces so much spam that Microsoft blocks email from them.

All it means to me is . . . . less spam!

Thanks Microsoft.

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Pirate

Another Barracuda Success

From personal experience I'm aware that the NHS makes use of Barracuda Devices to scan incoming mail and around May of this year a phishing email passed through them with a *very* low score that created the first round of carnage. It was a *good* phishing mail requesting NHS users to provide their log-in details and people fell for it - but did have the classic 'ticks' that should have been easy enough to pick up.

Three failures here;

1. The Barracuda failing to identify the initial phishing mail which had all the classic 'ticks' of phishing mail.

2. Users not being educated as to the risks and likelyhood of being asked to provide log in details by email

3. The Admin of the NHS mail system *not* spotting the blacklisting problem.

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FAIL

NHS email system at fault as usual?

I work in a field that has a lot of dealings with NHS email, and both myself and other sysadmins on other sites have a lot of problems with them.

It's pretty clear that someone, somewhere in the NHS email setup is uh... "competency challenged". Whether that's the pointy haired bosses or the sysadmins (and my money is on the former, not the latter), the fact is that they are a constant source of problems and I can quite understand hotmail blocking them.

Oh and first AC poster? Just for giggles how about you tell us precisely how many lives have been lost due to email blocking, as you seem to be implying its a big killer.

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FAIL

@Cantankerous Old Buzzard

The antispam system is likely to be

FOSE - Forefront Online Security for Exchance, formerly known as

MEHS - Microsoft Exchange Hosted Services, formerly know as

Frontbridge, before Microsoft bought it

It used to be good but then it went downhill fast - hence the rebrands.

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Anonymous Coward

@local council

But local council "workers" deserve everything they get. Overpaid, underworked and puffed-up pompous little hitlers.

Those who can, do

Those who can't, teach

and those who can't do and can't teach get a job for life with the council.

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FAIL

@Cantankerous Old Buzzard

The spam filering is possibly:

FOSE - Forefront Online Security for Exchange, formally known as

MEHS - Microsoft Exchange Hosted Services, formally known as

Frontbridge - before MS bought the company.

Frontbridge used to be good but then went downhill fast - then the rebranding started...

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FAIL

Or...........

could it be that SMTP is woefully in inadequate in the modern spam-riddled universe. If it was rewritten to ensure that the sender could be accurately ascertained then spam could be better slapped down. AC cause I know someone will flame for even daring to take a swip at the beloved TCP / IP stack's member.

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