In our office, some mysterious happening involving email started about two months ago. When I send or forward emails, occasionally they do not arrive. The problems are infrequent, but enough for me to no longer depend on my email reaching its final destination. Of course, there is no error message received that it did not reach the recipient.

To diagnose this strange behaviour, I started to compile a list of emails that I sent and were not received. I suspected something was filtering these messages in transit, and perhaps they had some special ActiveX, Javascript, spam-like qualities, etc. No pattern emerged. Sometimes emails would be delayed - 30 minutes, 5 hours, 2 days - and they finally reached their destination.

Today I looked deeper. The goal: to determine whether our ISP - TELUS in British Columbia - was the cause of this problem. If I am to call a technical support line, I always need at least a little theory why it is happening, backed up by evidence. It's not as though I can just say, "Some of my emails aren't being received, can you do something?" (and then I'd hear stifled laughing on the other end of the line).

So in minute detail, I poured over the email headers of one of my emails. Plain to see is where it was routed:

... by priv-edtnaa12.telusplanet.net (BorderWare Security Platform)

Ah ha. So the presentation I attended a couple weeks ago by TELUS speaking on the subject of deep packet inspection is certainly true. Not that they're using for nefarious purposes in this case, but it is causing me a big headache.

In a little Google search I found an article on InfoWorld that supports my observations ( http://www.infoworld.com/article/08/04/09/15TC-mail-security-borderware_1.html ).

"The BorderWare Security Platform ... had the worst false positive performance of any product tested, and by a large margin."

That's very reassuring to know TELUS is using bottom rung filtering technology. Now I'm no expert in Internet networking and routers and filtering devices. All I know is from a practical user's point of view, this error rate is not acceptable. Seemingly, sending the email while connected to the TELUS network is not enough to prove it's a valid email. I'm a second-rate Internet citizen even to the company I pay to provide the service.

Years ago, TELUS brought in an Internet Security add-on package, which I always turned off or opted out of (it's really useless for savvy computer users). I haven't called to see if I can opt out of this filtering, and I'm not convinced the time spent calling them would yield any results. Instead, I'm spending my time writing this blog post.

My Solution? I'm now sending all my outgoing mail through another ISP. If you experience the same problems, perhaps this story will help you confirm BorderWare Security is the cause. If anyone reading this knows one can opt out of BorderWare Security on TELUS, send me a message or leave a comment.

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