Spamhaus is the trusted authority on IP and domain reputation, uniquely placed in the industry because of its strong ethics, impartiality, and quality of actionable data.
The Spamhaus team works closely with Law Enforcement Cyber Crimes teams such as the FBI and the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance, assisting with investigations and compiling profiles, backgrounds and evidence on spam gangs and spam operations.
A recent INTERPOL assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on cybercrime has shown a significant target shift from individuals and small businesses to major corporations, governments and critical infrastructure. With organisations and businesses rapidly deploying remote systems and networks to support staff working from home, criminals are taking advantage of increased security vulnerabilities to steal data, generate profits and cause disruption. With this violent shift in dynamics, Spamhaus identified a need to create a product that would assist organisations of all sizes to stand up and prevent these sorts of attacks.
Make it Clear has been working with Spamhaus since 2019, with their team approaching us in Q3 2021 to curate the UX/UI for their new offering, a ‘Reputation Portal’. This would be a free service to owners of IPs and domains. In short, an IP address is an address that computers, servers and other devices use to identify one another online. The vast majority of IP addresses are arranged into four sets of digits – e.g. 18.104.22.168. A domain name is information that you enter into a web browser in order to reach a specific website. Cybercriminals illegally gain ownership or create fraudulent IP addresses and domain names to commit crimes or steal data, information and finances.
By registering their assets to the Reputation Portal, owners of IPs and domains can gain visibility to what IP addresses are listed in the Spamhaus blocklists/datasets, the information on why the listing has occurred, and how to resolve the issue and request the removal. For context, an IP or domain can be added to the Spamhaus blocklists/datasets through malicious activity such as spam messages, malware and malicious URLs. This proactive approach removes the pain of IP and domain owners learning about listings second-hand from their customers. Those who have properties registered in this portal will see open tickets relating to their properties and raise new tickets without having to go through the verification process.
The solution needed to collect very complex technical security data concerning networks and domains and hand that back to the user in a very easy-to-read way. No existing tool in the market offered the same service, so there weren’t any competitors or like-for-like platforms to benchmark or compare against. All elements of the journey and data visualisation had to be created from scratch. The end product needed to appeal to both large organisations and smaller domain owners equally, with the former requiring the visualisation of thousands of data points.
The challenge for our team was to create an agile interface that could tolerate vast amounts of changing information and display it in an accessible and succinct manner. In addition, the UI was required to talk to a wide range of users with varying levels of knowledge using Spamhaus’s brand guidelines. We created a suite of icons, infographics and data presentation techniques that was universally accessible to the large target audience. From organisations such as Amazon with highly technical digital security teams to SMEs who are relatively new to the world of IP information security.
Our goal was to deliver enough data to guide the user to deal with the most important threats, but to avoid confusing them by including irrelevant background noise. We built a dashboard that presented the most relevant information prominently, so users could act on it and deal with less pressing threats at a later date. Due to its simple and uncomplicated construction, with obvious and effective signposting, the UI provided the information in a manner that was easy to digest and download. During user testing, one participant explained: “I love the tool itself, it has no bells and whistles which is awesome – it serves up the information really quickly, and the dashboard is simple and straightforward.”
“First and foremost, we’ve received fantastic feedback from the users of the Portal. This is the most important litmus test of the success of any project. Users find it simple to use, intuitive and fit for purpose. Secondly, this project won gold in the London Design Awards – an added bonus and testament to MiC’s approach and ability to work together with Spamhaus and understand our requirements and needs.” – Sarah Miller, Marketing Director at Spamhaus Technology.
Check out the portal here.
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