Mason Fights to Can the Spam

Posted: August 29, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Dave Andrews

Many Mason employees may wonder how e-mails selling such things as Viagra, replica watches and stock tips sneak into their inbox.

The fact is, Mason is constantly expanding its filtering capabilities. But at the same time, spammers are increasing their output.

According to Tracy Holt, e-mail systems and accounts manager, Mason installed an improved spam-catching system last week.

Mason’s junk mail filtering system, Email Security, is not dramatically changed. But it is 35 percent more effective in blocking images and PDF documents that have embedded spam.

Other enhancements to Email Security include

  • Added infrastructure to handle new outbreaks
  • Feedback and troubleshooting notifications
  • Improved URL extraction to identify rotating domains and country codes
  • Improved phone number recognition

“We’re optimistic that the enhanced system will really cut down the number of spam messages received in Mason e-mail accounts,” Holt says. “Spamming tactics are constantly changing. So with [Email Security’s] ability to identify new outbreaks, we won’t have to spend as much time reacting to new scams.”

Identifying these new trends is essential in the world of spam protection. Mason is currently filtering three million spam messages each day, and that number continues to rise. The amount of junk mail the university deals with has nearly doubled in the last four months alone.

Holt says the dramatic rise can be attributed to spammers developing a more “distributed attack” in an effort to damage large networks.

With trends progressing at their current rate, systems such as Mason’s may need additional capacity in the coming months. But until then, Holt is confident Email Security will perform just fine.

Statistics on campus spam can be seen on the Mason Mail web page.

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