Sure, everyone loves to hate e-mail. We're all inundated by it, and much of it is junk or, worse, malicious. And yes, it's been tough to stay ahead of the spammers--for years it seemed like all we could do was react, and pray. But why all the anxiety? E-mail is one of the most mature and stable systems in IT today. And we've learned that we can beat the spammers by deploying and updating the right combination of reactive tools.
Spambusters 'r' Us
I was shocked when I realized I wasn't worried about spam anymore, but my strategy seems to be working, at least so far. I use a combination of real-time blacklists, local blacklists and spam traps as my first line of defense. Mailshell's SpamCatcher, an antispam engine, analyzes each message that makes it past that boundary, applying heuristics--pattern matching based on content and header analysis, for instance--to determine the probability that the message is spam. Messages that make the cut get bounced to the intended recipient's quarantine folder.
It takes each user only a couple of minutes a day to scan through that folder and find the few false positives--messages that should have made it into the inbox--and another couple of minutes to scan the inbox for false negatives--messages that shouldn't have gotten in--and delete them before they can do any serious damage. It's not an ideal process, and
I still have to do some fine-tuning of my spam filter, but it's a far cry from the days when chronic spam was uncontrollable.