Definition

reverse DNS (rDNS)

Reverse DNS (rDNS) is a method of resolving an IP address into a domain name, just as the domain name system (DNS) resolves domain names into associated IP addresses. One of the applications of reverse DNS is as a spam filter. Here's how it works: Typically, a spammer uses an invalid IP address, one that doesn't match the domain name. A reverse DNS lookup program inputs IP addresses of incoming messages to a DNS database. If no valid name is found to match the IP address, the server blocks that message.

Although reverse DNS is fairly effective for filtering spam, it also sometimes blocks valid e-mail, at least in the current technological environment. A number of problems, including network delays and improperly configured networks or servers, can prevent legitimate messages from getting through the filter. In January 2003, AT&T WorldNet started using reverse DNS in conjunction with other anti-spam software. The company was forced to remove the filter just 24 hours after it was deployed, after subscribers reported that messages were going undelivered.

This was last updated in April 2007

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