27 September 2022 | 5 min read | Agnė Srėbaliūtė
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IPXO Webinar: IP Address Reputation and Management 

What is IP address reputation, and why is it important? What are the greatest challenges related to IP address management? What changes to IP reputation and management can we expect in the future? These were the key questions answered during a recent IPXO webinar.

A laptop with three screens representing three people attending one webinar.

On September 20, 2022, we held a webinar that gathered the industry’s professionals to discuss the importance of IP address reputation and IP address management

Paul Rendek, a member of IPXO’s Advisory Board and the moderator of this webinar, was joined by four industry’s experts:  

  • Jan Zorz – VP at 6connect Labs 
  • Lee Howard – Senior VP at IPv4.Global by Hilco Streambank 
  • Matthew Wilder – Senior Engineer at TELUS Communications 
  • Paulius Judickas – VP of Strategic Sales at IPXO 
A list of IPXO webinar attendees including the webinar's moderator.
IPXO webinar moderator and guest speakers

What is IP address reputation, and why is it important? 

When asked the question, Lee Howard stated that IP address reputation allows people to make decisions based on previous behavior.  

IP Address Reputation and Management: What is IP address reputation and why is it important?
IP address reputation is a way for people to make decisions about what traffic […] to allow to or from a given IP address based on previous behavior.
Lee Howard
Senior Vice President, IPv4.Global

According to Howard, the most common way to manage IP address reputation is to introduce a blocklist. Blocklists allow internet users, groups and companies to maintain lists of addresses related to spam, botnets, cyberattacks or even vulnerabilities that have not yet been exploited. All of this influences the reputation of an IP address, and that information can be added to a firewall, a router’s access control list or a mail server’s accept list. 

What are the main security concerns related to IP reputation and IP management? 

According to Jan Zorz, if operators do not secure their networks and protect their IPs from spam or someone acting in a malicious way, IP addresses can end up on blocklists.  

Zorz added that if blocklists have a good API (application programming interface), an IPAM tool can automatically check if an IP address space has a good or a bad reputation. As well as check whether or not it has been added to any blocklist database. However, as Zorz explained, not all blocked IPs are listed. 

IP Address Reputation and Management: What are the main security concerns?
The problem comes when your IP addresses are blocked in other networks when they are automatically detecting that your IP addresses have been doing some bad stuff on the internet. And these blocks are not listed anywhere in the centralized lists […] You never know in how many places around the world your network is blocked.
Jan Zorz
Vice President, 6connect Labs

Zorz concluded that to keep the used IP space clean, it is imperative to deploy all security measures to protect that IP space from being blocked around the world. Even if that means disconnecting users who are acting suspiciously.  

Is IPAM the responsibility of an in-house team or an external provider? 

Turning the discussion to IP address management, Paul Rendek asked Zorz if IPAM should be taken on by an in-house team or an external service provider. 

According to Zorz, great open-source IP address management software exists, which means there is no point in building in-house IPAM. Zorz also suggested that IP address management is becoming more important in the wake of IPv4 depletion and growing IPv6 adoption.  

As Zorz explained, in the early days of the internet, IPv4 space was mainly managed with an excel sheet. Today, IPv4 address management helps divide the address space properly. IPAM also allows automating daily or weekly IP checks against central blocklists.  

Does IP reputation linger once it is transferred to a new holder? Is it possible to clean the IP address space completely? 

According to Matthew Wilder, IP reputation management engines and service providers must play catch-up to attune to a new type of IP address market. A market, in which IP addresses are frequently moved from one user to another. Wilder believes that IP reputation management service providers should refresh IP ranges when they are transferred to another holder. 

Paulius Judickas agreed with Wilder and shared that the so-called IP address reputation inheritance is becoming a big issue. That is because even when IP resources are transferred two or three times, the holders might not be able to use them due to activities that originally occurred 10-15 years ago. Judickas believes that IP address reputation inheritance should become obsolete as soon as possible. 

When asked about IP address reputation history, Wilder suggested there is more metadata these days. It is possible to investigate geolocation information to see where IP addresses are used. This information can be drawn from the WHOIS data of Regional Internet Registries. There’s also the RFC 8805 document that allows users to self-publish geolocation information.  

IP Address Reputation and Management: Is IP reputation history accessible
There’s more and more metadata these days. So, you look at geolocation information […] that helps point to where an IP address is used […] I suspect that, overall, it’s going to be a mixed bag as far as how people are using those bits of information and how long they retain that information.
Matthew Wilder
Senior Engineer, TELUS Communications

What are the main IP reputation-related concerns IPXO clients have? 

When asked about the concerns of IP lease clients, Judickas shared that IPXO has implemented an initial IP reputation check. That means every single IP address is scanned across nearly 100 blocklists. This ensures IPs are clean before they even reach the Marketplace.  

According to Judickas, if something is wrong, the IPXO team can assist IP holders in delisting IP addresses with a bad reputation. This ensures that IP lessees only access clean resources when they join the Marketplace. 

Judickas agreed that while it may be impossible to guarantee that all IPs remain in top condition since hosting providers or internet service providers assign IPs to their end customers, proper IP reputation management can help keep IP addresses clean.  

IP Address Reputation and Management: What are the main concerns IPXO clients have?
Our best practices are looking into potential lessees and trying to figure out their patterns, figure out their usual behaviors to stop any potential abuse before it actually happens. We understand that we are working with third-party resources here at IPXO, so we look into this with extra care and caution.
Paulius Judickas
VP of Strategic Sales, IPXO

What is the industry-standard tool in the IPAM world? 

According to Howard, the current IPAM market is robust and has many competitors. However, not all tools are focused on IP address reputation. “Most of them will help you organize your IP space, but they’re not going to help you protect reputation.” 

For Wilder, this offers a new market opportunity. According to the expert, with so many different RBLs (reputation blocklists) in action, it would be interesting to aggregate all information and use it to indicate IP issues. As Zorz called it, “an umbrella RBL.” 

Howard added that a few companies already offer the service. However, one significant problem exists with their tools: They may only allow one address query at a time if they do not have robust APIs. That means that if someone decides to check an IP address block, they may need to check the entire subnet. That, of course, can lead to many individual queries and even violation of terms of use. 

Zorz shared why that is a big problem: “You grab information from the HTML code that you get from some website and then try to understand if an address is affected or not. Been there, done that. Never want to repeat again.” 

What is the future of IP reputation management? 

The guest speakers of the webinar concluded the discussion by sharing their thoughts on what the future of IP reputation management holds.  

Interested in what the industry’s leaders have to say about the infrastructure and security challenges in the hosting industry? Reserve your seat at an upcoming IPXO webinar today! 

Registration form to upcoming IPXO webinar in November.
IPXO Webinar: Hosting Challenges in Infrastructure and Security

About the author

Agnė Srėbaliūtė

Technical Content Writer

Agnė is a Technical Content Writer at IPXO. For more than 15 years she has been molding her skills in various fields, including PR copywriting, SEO copywriting and creative copywriting. Her lifestyle is based on continuous learning through numerous areas of interest, leisure activities and travelling. Addictions? Hiking and coffee.