Save Time Using an Anti-SPAM Service

I think we all agree that SPAM is an awful burden that we all face every day.  For those of you who don’t know what SPAM is (I know…but I’m sure a few people have been living in a polar ice cave for the past 10 years), SPAMMING is defined by Wikipedia as:

“…the abuse of electronic-messaging systems to indiscriminately send unsolicited bulk messages.”

The most common form of spamming is email SPAM, where unscrupulous individuals bombard your email address with stuff you don’t actually want to receive, and in most cases never asked anyone to send.  This is a lot like the junk mail the credit card companies send you every day but in many cases its gotten way worse.  To round this definition out, I’ll also point out that these same people SPAM cell phones, instant messenger applications, message boards, and a whole host of additional electronic media.

Recently I’ve been working with a number of customers that still don’t have any sort of active anti-spam application filtering their corporate email accounts.  I’m not talking about a local application that sits on your computer (that generally doesn’t work and requires maintenance and management on your part).   I’m talking about the deployment of a service against your corporate email accounts that scans and filters everything sent to you and your colleagues before it’s delivered to your Inbox.

There are loads of these services out there.  In fact, before we switched to managed Microsoft Exchange we used a service called Spam Stops Here which we were very pleased with and still recommend to our customers today.  The services are all a bit different but many of them filter your mail by performing the following tasks on your behalf:

  1. They require you to redirect your mail servers to their facility. This subsequently traffics all inbound messages sent to your email accounts to their servers first.  It takes about 10 minutes to do this.
  2. Once they receive your email, they scan it against their internal systems and if it passes their tests, they forward the email to the proper recipient. You do absolutely nothing; their service performs all of these tests behind the scenes.
  3.  Depending on service levels, many of them will also scan emails and attachments for viruses which is a big bonus.  Downtime from an internal virus within your corporate network can mean days or weeks of lost money and effort.  It can also expose your networks to security threats and external theft.  Again, this is all done behind the scenes with no effort on your part.
  4. They also stay on top of the current spamming trends, blacklisting IP blocks or domains that have recently begun sending out a great deal of SPAM, updating the virus filters, and staying on top of the new tricks the SPAMMERS are using.   Again, this is done behind the scenes and their folks focus on only this task.  This specialization means they can devote far more time to the study of preventing SPAM than anyone in your organization could.
  5. They all charge a modest monthly fee which varies depending on the number of mailboxes they’re checking, the service levels you request, etc.

So with very little effort and a very modest monthly expense, you can save your company thousands upon thousands of hours due to lost productivity.  Sound like a sales pitch, well it’s not.  It’s just common sense.

For example, I looked at one customer’s anti-SPAM stats today while helping them manage their white list (a list of permitted domains that the SPAM filters will effectively ignore).  Over the first 16 days of April 2008 their service has caught 119,000 bogus emails and permitted 5,880 to reach their intended recipient.  If you do the math on that, it tells you that less than 5% of the email sent to them is actually valid.  95% is garbage!  Since there are only about 30 users on their mail system, that’s almost 4,000 emails that each individual would have had to delete before getting to the really important ones.  And while deleting the junk, many times people delete stuff they actually need.  More lost time and energy.

Think about how long it would take you to sort through 4,000 emails at the rate 250 per day.   Do the research, make the call, and save your company LOADS of time.  It’s so worth it.

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