Office Spam Filters

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Given that more than 70 percent of all email traffic is spam, having effective mail server filters in place is critical to office productivity. In 2003, for example, estimates for related collective fiscal losses nationwide ran at about $23 billion. This figure includes both $10 billion tied to spam and lost productivity, and about $13 billion to viruses and system resources.

To paint the picture in primary colors, as it were, spam puts a real burden on an organization. On the one hand is the toll its sheer volume takes on IT resources. Suppose that a mail server has configured for 20,000 email accounts and, based on the nature of the organization, a daily traffic load of a million messages. Thanks to the 65 percent rise in the ratio of spam to legitimate email in the past two years, however, the capacity would need to be upped to three million.

Furthermore, while most spam is designed and dispatched on a one-to-many principle, not all of it is. Email bombs, a spam variant, operate on a many-to-one principle. That is, multiple emails from different IP addresses--the achievement of hacker programming--bombard a single email in the course of a day or an hour. This scenario can also easily bring a mail server hub to its knees.

Keeping Spam from Clogging Corporate Networks

There are two basic strategies in controlling the flow of unsolicited email. The first is a firewall, defined as a system to prevent traffic into or out from a specified computer system. Firewalls can be hardware or software, or and usually a combination. Examples from each side of the equation include online financial institutions and Internet web hosting vendors. The second are anti-virus and encryption. The technology of these solutions grows more complex by the day, however. More and more IT departments are therefore turning to third-party vendors that specialize in securing and managing network email systems.

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