There was a time when spam was regarded as a major threat to the smooth functioning of E-mail. Apart from the network overhead caused by spam, other issues such as malware were constantly on network admins’ minds. Then there was the precious time users spent deleting spam mail from their inboxes. However, it’s still something administrators have to incorporate in their planning, and users do come across the occasional spam message in their inbox.
Google Apps and Gmail have become the preferred E-mail solution for many businesses, in part due to the ease of maintenance. One of the best ways Google Apps makes life easier for admins is the simplicity of configuring a domain’s anti-spam measures. Some tools Google offers for fighting spam include:
- Blocked Senders: This E-mail blacklist setting helps keep repeated offenders at bay. If you find a particular E-mail id or domain sending junk mail, adding it to the Blocked Senders list will end the problem. You can find more information at Google’s support page: http://support.google.com/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2364632&topic=2683828&ctx=topic
- Attachment compliance: Administrators can set up policies allowing, disallowing, and even modifying E-mail based on the attachments. Separate policies are possible for internal mail, outgoing mail, and incoming mail. Admins can also select specific file extensions for filtering. More information is available at: http://support.google.com/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2364580&topic=2683828&ctx=topic
- Whitelists: E-mail whitelists reduce the possibility of false positives. Administrators can enter IP addresses or an IP range to ensure Gmail’s filters let any mail from those domains pass through. To know more about this, visit: http://support.google.com/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=60751
- Unsubscribe service: We often subscribe to E-mail newsletters, not realizing that we’ve done this for about a million other websites and services. Gmail offers an unsubscribe service for Gmail users that lets you send automatic opt-out E-mail for unwanted newsletters that can’t exactly be classified as spam. You’ll find this option automatically pop-up when you click on ‘Report Spam’ on a message.
- Objectionable Content: This setting lets administrators pick rules for proscribed content – you can set up word lists and use these to filter messages. Legal departments should love this! Read up on Objectionable Content filters at: http://support.google.com/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1346936&topic=2683828&ctx=topic
- Content Compliance: Similar to Objectionable Content, but with greater flexibility, this allows the creation of word lists that can be used in filters to target internal, outgoing, and incoming mail. Content Compliance can also be used to route mail to specific departments based on the message content. For example, you can route all mail containing the word ‘help’ or ‘firmware’ to your tech support department, regardless of who the original addressee is. You can get more info on this feature at: http://support.google.com/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1346934&topic=2683828&ctx=topic
- Restrict Delivery: You can use this if your organizational needs require that users only communicate with a specific list of approved E-mail addresses. The Restrict Delivery feature is explained in greater detail at: http://support.google.com/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2640542&topic=2683828&ctx=topic
Administrators should find these tools exceptionally useful not only for reducing spam, but also for improving security. While Gmail’s regular spam filters do take care of most spam issues, the greater functionality offered by Google Apps’ filtering capabilities will give you a lot more control over E-Mail security and integrity.
ANTI-SPAM PLUGINS FOR GMAIL, THUNDERBIRD, AND OUTLOOK
While most spam solutions are best implemented at the server level, you might prefer to include filtering at the desktop level. Many anti-virus and security apps include some sort of spam-fighting plugin for E-mail clients. Users of Outlook and Thunderbird also have quite a few options available to them:
- SpamFighter: Available for Outlook, Thunderbird, Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail, and Outlook Express from www.spamfighter.com
- Cloudmark DesktopOne: Available for Gmail, Windows Mail, Thunderbird, Outlook, and Outlook Express from www.cloudmark.com
- SpamAid: You can find this Outlook at www.spamaid.com
- CA Anti-Spam Plus: Available on Outlook and Outlook Express from www.qurb.com