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Customer Story

TekTonic stays on top of sign-up spam

With TekTonic co-founder and CEO, Matt Ayres
In Business Since
Using MailChannels Since


TekTonic offers Virtual Private Servers (VPS) hosting with self-healing capabilities for companies of any size. The company is privately held and employee-owned, with a history of consistent growth since 1997. Today, the company services over 7,000 clients. TekTonic is powered by the OnApp Cloud and is based in Pennsylvania, USA.


VPS servers offer a convenient, scalable alternative to traditional “dedicated” servers. Like a dedicated server, a VPS provides large amounts of CPU power, memory, and network resources – in addition to static IP addresses.  Unfortunately, the power and flexibility provided by TekTonic VPS instances were proving attractive to spammers in addition to TekTonic’s growing base of legitimate business customers. Spammers would sign up for VPS accounts – generally using stolen credit card credentials – configure their spamming software, and then send large amounts of spam out of TekTonic’s network.

Credit card fraud is an expensive problem. But the outbound spam proved to be equally costly to TekTonic. “We had a lot of outbound spam,” says Matt Ayres, TekTonic co-founder, and CEO. “The spam was just ruining our IP address reputation, leading to blocklistings and complaints about email deliverability from our legitimate customers.”

TekTonic worked hard to fight the spammers, setting up an array of account validation features in an attempt to eliminate them during the sign-up process. Unfortunately, these validation features presented a barrier to legitimate customers, and TekTonic was concerned about losing new business.

“We were caught between a rock and a hard place,” says Matt.  “If we gave in to the spammers, legitimate customers would leave the service because of bad email deliverability. On the other hand, if we tried hard to stop the spammers from signing up, new customers might be turned away.”

Matt spent a lot of time researching online but couldn’t find what he was looking for. Then a chance conversation with the CEO of OnApp led Matt to MailChannels.

“The product definitely works and works with a very low occurrence of false positives.”

The MailChannels Effect

Easy Installation

TekTonic installed MailChannels Transparent Filtering in less than an hour and configured their routers to redirect email traf c from the TekTonic VPS cluster through the MailChannels machine. The MailChannels machine was configured for transparent filtering, so customers were not impacted.

“The MailChannels system was easy to install,” says Matt. “Because it’s compatible with Ubuntu Linux, we just used the package they provided and were up and running in minutes.”

Once email redirection was turned on, the volume of email traffic being processed by the MailChannels software exceeded 38 million SMTP connections per day. The volume of spam and other bogus SMTP connections came as a shock to both MailChannels and TekTonic.

“We have never seen such a large amount of email owing out of such a small provider,” says Ken Simpson, MailChannels CEO. “TekTonic’s email volume is in the same league as major telcos with millions of subscribers.”

Of the 38 million SMTP connections processed daily, 98% were spam or spam related. MailChannels’ behavior analysis system began identifying spam sources within seconds, allowing TekTonic to immediately start cleaning house. “We must have terminated ten or so accounts within the first hour,” says Matt.

Freeing Up Resources

Spammers typically use as many resources as they can get their hands on. With the hosting industry’s razor-thin margins, the abuse of resources causes a substantial drain on profitability.

“We were able to catch a lot of spammers that were abusing our resources,” says Matt. “A pleasant side effect of cutting off service for spammers has meant increased service availability for the rest of our customers – not to mention a reduction in blocklisted IPs and better email deliverability.”

“The product definitely works and works with a very low occurrence of false positives.”

Dramatic Reduction of Fraud

“I would imagine every VPS provider has this problem. The spammers are pretty relentless. Typically what we would see is spammers that would legitimately pay but they’d sign up and get your IP’s blocklisted before going somewhere else.”

Before MailChannels, TekTonic would see as many as ten abuse reports per day from email receivers warning them about bad IP addresses. Now, TekTonic sees less than three per month.

“It has meant less spam-related workload for support techs and peace of mind for us knowing that we have an RBL-free network,” says Matt.




Pennsylvania, USA


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