Pin Me

The important features that one should consider when investing in a server-side spam filter

written by: securityphreaks•edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 5/6/2010

This article outlines the process that a business should undergo before investing in a server-side anti-spam solution.

  • slide 1 of 1

    In a business environment the threat of spam is great and the problems caused by spam are many. Whilst spam started out as being nothing more than a time-wasting scam purportedly promising benefits of women, money or sexual gratification, in recent years it has taken a turn onto the darker side. Many spam emails are now laden with malware that installs itself on the user’s computer once the email is opened and can reap havoc to the system. Knowing about the serious threats that spam can cause, administrators are aware about the importance of installing anti-spam software. For personal use, read up about the best free and paid spam blocker tools available. Employee time equates to money so having employees sift through emails on a daily basis sorting through the spam and the ham is a loss of revenue for the company. Moreover there is also the cost of bandwidth used up by spam, as well as other storage and network infrastructure costs. Apart from the time and money issues, there is also the very important factor of security breaches. In recent years, companies have seen an exponential increase in spam volumes and types which is mainly a reflection of the success registered by spammers to gain access to servers and end-users’ mailboxes and, more importantly, their capability to bypass the various methods used by anti-spam products to detect these emails. For the reasons mentioned above it is crucial that companies invest wisely in an anti spam solution for the security and protection of their business and network. There are important factors that should be taken into account when determining the best anti spam solution for a business. - Firstly choose a solution that tackles spam at server level rather than at client level. This is important because installation on the server eliminates the need for workstation-based anti spam software; it is cheaper to license; spam is stopped at the entry point of the company’s network and not at each end users’ mailbox, and a server-based product provides more information to the administrator that can then be used to deal with spam faster and more effectively. - Select a product that uses multiple anti spam technologies. Spammers are tech-savvy people who are constantly trying to outdo the latest anti spam techniques; therefore relying on just one anti spam techniques is unlikely to combat all the threats that are out there. However if a solution uses various anti spam techniques, such as Bayesian filtering, whitelists, intelligent mail header analysis, checking senders against custom blacklists, IP reputation filtering, etc, then these all work together to filter existing and future types of spam email. - The product must be easy to install with minimal configuration issues. Most SMBs would have a small IT department that is relied upon for every bit of electronic equipment in the building and might therefore not have the resources available to deal with a complex installation process. The simpler the installation and usability of the software, the more efficient it is for the administrator. - Finally, choose a product that has a high spam capture rate but returns few false positives. If an anti spam solution cannot effectively differentiate between valid emails and spam emails then you run the risk of losing important emails that could affect your business and clients. The test for any anti spam product is to reduce spam as much as possible but with the lowest return of false positives. Choosing an anti spam solution is an important business decision that should not be left to chance as the threat of spam could cripple a business network resulting in loss of productivity and revenue which could cost even more to recover from. Whilst you wouldn’t leave the main door open when you leave the building, be sure not to leave your network unprotected either.