Spam Filtering

44,000 pieces of time-wasting, bandwidth eating, server clogging spam a day. That’s 1,338,363 pieces of spam in a month. And a crazy 16,060,365 spam mails in an entire year. That’s one man’s spam in UK – of the highest spam recipient. This tally from ClearMyMail shows the spam problem. It took him 2 hours to wade through the lottery, Nigerian scam and unwelcome organ enlarging solicitations.

What couldn’t I do with those 2 hours. Get my butt on the seat and get the final draft of the article out, answer my 5-year old’s interminable questions all the way to Domino’s, through dinner and back, and more such things that I avoid – all without a tenth of the eye-glazing boredom that deleting spam induces in me. And without the fear of deleting a legitimate mail while suffering from the glaze.

And it happens in organizations too. We did a survey in organizations a while ago. They were deploying firewall and anti-virus by default, but when it came to anti-spam, they weren’t overly concerning themselves with having the best solution around, sometimes none at all. But there’s more to spam than just a load of junk in our inboxes. What we see as a time-waster, is also the carrier of threats, breaching security defenses in networks. Phishing, spyware, viruses, you name it, they arrive with nerve-racking regularity. Even for the trained eye, some of these are deceiving, changing tactics so fast and coming up with novel ways to drive themselves into inboxes that by instinct we click on them before our mental alerts start kicking in. That’s what I did when pdf spam first arrived. Luckily, it had been just another pump and dump scheme.

I hate to give conclusions, sounds like so much thesis, but here I go with this one – that anti-spam is as important as firewall and anti-virus. And not just any anti-spam solution. One that gets to the spam before you do. Which means, it cannot wait for signatures. It cannot rely on content scanning. It must see the pattern of distribution. Look for one that goes beyond content. But first look for one – to add to your firewall, anti-virus, anti-spyware arsenal – to begin with.

“Harish Chib is the VP (New business development) Cyberoam. For more information on Cyberoam, visit these pages –”