Q

Enterprise-level spam filters

Learn whether there a corporate spam filter that allows individual users to add specific e-mail addresses to block or whitelist as needed, in this application security Ask the Expert Q&A.

Our company uses IMAIL from Ipswitch. Its spam filter works reasonably well, but our executives complain that hotel and airline reservations get caught in the spam filter. Although, we whitelist the airlines and hotels, they use mail services to send reservation confirmations and price updates, which seem to end up on the public blacklists. Is there a corporate spam filter that allows individual users to add specific e-mail addresses to block or whitelist as needed? This would reduce the amount of daily IT effort it takes to adjust our spam filters.
Although they may exist, I'm not aware of any enterprise-level spam filters that allow individual users to directly add e-mail addresses to black or whitelists. The reasons for this are:
  1. System administrators would quickly lose control of the e-mail server and the ability to enforce the corporate e-mail policy.
  2. One person's e-mail may be another person's spam.

I suggest using a spam filter that not only blocks e-mails, but also quarantines them. This notifies users when they receive a suspicious e-mail, and allows them to preview the message and decide if it is a message they want. Tumbleweeds offers a hardware spam filter, called MailGate Appliance, that also quarantines. The E-mail Protection Agency also offers a managed spam service. It automatically quarantines e-mails classified as spam...

and keeps them on the system for 28 days. During this period, administrators can log in to the online portal where the spam e-mails are stored, preview and release them if needed. While it does not completely eliminate this task from the network administrator's workload, the quarantine approach is less onerous than trying to continually adjust your spam filters, and it avoids the risk of exposing the network to malicious code sent from untrusted sources.


More Information

  • Read this tip to learn how to direct inbound SMTP traffic to an ISA Server first to nab malicious messages and reduce the overall volume of SMTP mail that your server must process.
  • Find tools and tactics to help your organization mitigate the risk of spam attacks, as recommended by your peers.

  • This was first published in February 2006

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