Computer Crime Research Center


Anti-spam problem

Date: August 29, 2005

Trying to stop junk email by filtering out words such as ‘sex’ didn’t work for Jeff Andrew, because incoming emails to his recruitment firm eJobs also used the term to describe the gender of potential employees.

So he found the traditional mode of fighting spam by filtering incoming email frustrating. In trying to eliminate the avalanche of emails offering pornography, Viagra and more by telling the system to file incoming emails mentioning sex in the junk file, he found himself regularly having to check this file for legitimate email.

Heightening the problem, he found that spammers “couldn’t spell”, or chose deliberately to mis-spell words in order to beat traditional spam filtering solutions.

As a nationwide recruitment firm, specialising in the financial planning and information technology sectors, eJobs depends on email for its day-to-day business.

As Director Recruiting, Jeff personally received between 20 and 100 spam emails a day, and his Managing Director was plagued by similar amounts. Some other staff received less and others similar amounts, but their frustration levels still ran high. About 80 per cent of all incoming email messages were spam.

There was a dramatic improvement after Jeff Andrew discovered the TotalBlock anti-spam solution from New Millennium Solutions. Spam levels fell to zero. Rather than filtering junk emails in the traditional anti-spam approach, the Australian-developed solution simply blocks it. TotalBlock does so by requiring senders to be authorised to send mail.

Simple procedures eliminate potential problems: any mail sent by the receiver can automatically approve a sender; while a quick inspection of history will reveal senders that have not taken the authorisation step. Very quickly TotalBlock learns to manage itself. It knows what the users are sending and receiving, and develops its own rules to manage spam. Neither administrators nor users need to do a thing to prevent junk email - no rules, no filters, no administration.

“Now it takes no more than five minutes a day to check my email, compared to the former day-long frustration of finding it difficult to access genuine messages,” says Jeff. “More than anything, it had a negative effect on business productivity.

“In comparison, TotalBlock is a dream to use. We never get false positives – valid email messages stopped by the anti-spam system. TotalBlock also improves our overall security by blocking all the spam emails that contain viruses.”

According to Jeff Andrew, the new anti-spam solution was quick to implement and easy for staff to learn. Even a barely computer-literate part-timer had to ask only one question about its procedures.
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