Everyone complains about the amount of spam that is around the internet. Somewhere I read that as much as 80+% of the email sent everyday can be spam. If your email address is a long standing one and you have used it many times to sign up for services and as your login for various web based online opportunities you can be sure that you will receive spam in some form or another.
How does an IT network administrator fight this insidious plague?
There are many anti spam tools which can be acquired and deployed as well as hosted anti spam filtering services. Most of them work basically the same way.
Using algorithims which recognize the common characteristics of spam email and listings of servers known to be prominent spam mailers these software tools attempt to recognize the bogus email arriving at your address. Vendors incorporate similar software tools into appliances which can be added to your IT network to manage the email as it arrives.
Whichever process you use it is important that your antispam software has a number of key capabilities to make it easy to use, reliable and a tool that your end users like.
Robust throughput that does not delay email being delivered to end users.
Ability for end users to white list (mark as acceptable) individual email addresses and domains.
Ability for end users to black list (mark as unacceptable) individual addresses and domains.
Network wide settings so that IT admins can set the filters to protect from common problem sources.
Ability to set locational preferences. If your company does not deal internationally there may be value in filtering out foreign email to protect your users.
Constant updating for new types of spam and phishing attacks.
Options for email management including archiving with set retention timing.
Built in anti virus checking of emails as they are received by the anti spam software whether on the hosted service or your own appliance.
Most anti spam services offer the ability to manage email for a low per month or per year rate. Appliances will cost more but they include annual licenses for many users and therefore often are more cost effective for larger organizations.
For most personal accounts internet service providers (ISPs) will provide some level of anti spam protection. There are free limited use versions of software also on the web, however before downloading be sure they are being offered from a reputable company as sometimes these types of tools are used to host trojans to collect information from unwary users.
For commercial accounts it will be necessary for the company to acquire anti spam services as an additional service or provide their own capability, hosted or inhouse. Failing to use anti spam protection can leave your users frustrated and put your whole network at risk if someone clicks on the wrong email.
The cost for a small network will be a few hundred dollars per year and the savings in user time (no need to clean hundreds or thousands of emails from your box each week) and reduction in risk will be well worth the small investment needed. Larger operations will see rewards comensurate with the investment they need to make as well.
One of the benefits of a hosted service is the potential reduction in traffic that it can create since the volume of spam messages are caught at the anti spam vendor's site before the valid messages are transmitted to the your own network. If spam has made up a large part of your email volume then this benefit could be of importance in your consideration for the service.
Getting rid of spam on the internet seems impossible. Getting rid of spam on your internal network is managable and possible.
Does spam flood your email? Are you looking for a network solution? What has worked for you?
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