New filtering system to save spam headaches

Katie Huntley

Frazzled students and faculty are being rescued from the dark abyss of spam e-mails.

As of Sunday, Information Services has implemented a new spam filtering system, Proofpoint, into the kent.edu domain. Its purpose is to eliminate unsolicited bulk e-mail from inboxes.

The university selected an internal spam solution, MailFrontier (which was bought out by SonicWALL), to handle all e-mail relay and spam filtering about two and a half years ago. The system was estimated to be out-of-date around June this year, said Thomas Beitl, executive director of infrastructure and operations for Information Services.

More Information:

• To change your personal preferences

for spam filtering, go to

http://spam.kent.edu and log in

with your Flashline username and

password.

• For further assistance and

information, contact the Kent State

Helpdesk at 330-672-HELP(4357)

or [email protected]

• Some frequently asked questions

regarding spam, phishing and

viruses are answered at http://

www.kent.edu/is/Email/spam.cfm.

“At that time, we were getting about 860,000 (total) e-mails a day,” Beitl said. “But over the course of two and a half years, mail volume has grown to more than 5 million a day.”

There has been an exceptional increase in spam within the past couple of months on many other campuses as well.

“The (volume) increase is due to a trend in spam everywhere,” said Todd Ryan, manager of systems administration. “Other universities are experiencing the same thing.”

Of the 5 million e-mails total, approximately 95 percent are spam, Beitl said.

“Under the old system, we were stripping off only about 70 to 75 percent of spam, and now the new system gets about 95 percent,” Beitl said.

However, e-mail that is captured in the filter is not deleted right away. A quarantine holds the e-mails while a digest is sent to the user summarizing the filtered spam.

“When they click the link in the e-mail, it will take them to the Proofpoint Web site,” Ryan said. “There they will log in with their Flashline username and password, and they are able to release and view the filtered e-mails.”

After releasing the e-mail from quarantine, the user will receive the message in his or her inbox within about 10 minutes, Ryan said.

Information Services had been piloting several other systems in order to make a change from an in-house solution to a vender-hosted solution. Proofpoint was the most current test in production.

“We had been testing and running it through its paces for about a month,” Beitl said. “We were about ready to complete the pilot when the (old) system was getting overwhelmed, and we had to do something right away.”

Already with this system, spam has been more efficiently separated from other e-mail, time delays have decreased and reliability has improved.

The new system will be in use for at least the next few months, but solutions from other vendors are still being tested. There is possibility for another change in the future.

Contact Information Services

reporter Katie Huntley

at [email protected].