Fighting Back Against Spam

Posted on: July 30th, 2011 by billp | No Comments

Spam is a problem any business e-mail user deals with on a daily basis. Spam is broadly defined as the use of electronic messaging systems to indiscriminately send unsolicited bulk messages. While e-mail spam is the most common form, there is also instant messaging spam, social network spam, blog comment spam, search engine spam, and other forms. Whatever form it comes in, spam is a drain on business’ computing resources (storage, bandwidth, etc.) and employee productivity. In this newsletter, we will focus on e-mail spam since it is the biggest problem for most business users.

Spam can be used by advertisers to broadly distribute information about their products or services. Spam can, however, also be used for malicious purposes by being a vector for malware distribution. Spam can even be used for criminal purposes through the use of phishing attacks. Phishing is a way of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Regardless of the purpose, spam is an unwelcome guest in your e-mail system.

Spamming remains a viable business because advertisers have low operating costs and it is difficult to hold spammers accountable. Because the barrier to entry is so low, spammers are numerous, and the volume of unsolicited mail has become very high. In the year 2011, the estimated figure for spam messages is around seven trillion. The costs, such as lost productivity and fraud, are borne by the public and by Internet Service Providers (ISPs), which have been forced to add extra capacity to cope with the additional volume of email. Spamming has been the subject of legislation in many jurisdictions.

There are many techniques that you can use to reduce the amount of spam that finds its way into your inbox. The simplest – but most labor-intensive for the user – methods are the whitelist, blacklist, or keyword filtering approachs. Your e-mail client may allow you to create a whitelist of users that you allow to send you e-mail. The problem, of course, is that senders that are not on your whitelist will be quarantined or rejected initially. A blacklist is a more conservative approach because you maintain a list of senders that should not be allowed to send you e-mail. However, blacklists tend to be ineffective because spammers rarely send from the same e-mail address for long. Similarly, keyword filtering can be ineffective because spammers often use misspellings of common words to evade filtering.

A more effective form of spam filtering involves the use of speculative (a.k.a heuristic) filtering. Simply stated, speculative filtering works by subjecting e-mail messages to thousands of pre-defined rules. Each rule assigns a numerical score to the probability of the message being spam. This score is then evaluated against the user’s tolerance for spam (low, medium, high, etc.) to determine if the message will be quarantined or delivered.

Colden Company is proud to offer Google Message Security (Postini) to its customers. Postini uses extremely effective speculative filtering to keep spam from reaching your inbox, draining your employees’ productivity, and consuming your business’ computing resources. Postini is software-as-a-service (SaaS), meaning that it requires no additional hardware, software, or other infrastructure to be purchased. Even better, Postini stops spam, viruses, phishing, denial of service, directory harvest attacks, and other attacks before they reach your network without message loss or disruptions to email service. Google offers 99.999% availability for message processing and 100% virus protection Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for Postini, securely filtering and delivering billions of transactions each day.

Do you want to stop spam and other unwanted e-mail from ever reaching your network? Find out more by contacting us at 518-885-2857, toll-free at 888-600-4560, via email at info@coldencompany.com, or on Twitter.




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