Spam is the biggest threat to the usefulness of our email that we see every day – but it doesn’t have to be such a pain to deal with and you don’t have to manually delete every message that you receive.
Using the advanced SpamAssassin filters which are available to every email address hosted by Digital Red, you can cut the number of unwanted spam emails that you receive dramiatically. Blended with some other email filtering techniques, most people can cut the number of spam emails that they see daily from 200 down to less than one or two a week.
How SpamAssassin works
SpamAssassin is generally regarded as one of the most effective spam filters, especially when used in combination with spam databases. Even simple text-matching alone may, for most users, be sufficient to correctly classify a majority of incoming mail.
SpamAssassin comes with a large set of rules which are applied to determine whether an email is spam or not. To decide, specific parts of an email are matched against rules that spam messages typically follow. The email is assigned a certain score, depending on the test, and depending on the total score, an email could be either marked as looking like spam, or if the system is sure that it’s spam, the message could be deleted completely.
Examples of rules
Each test has a label and a description. The label is usually an all upper case identifier separated with underscores, such as “LIMITED_TIME_ONLY”, with the description for that label being “Offers a limited time offer”. A mail that passes that test (in this case, contains certain variants of the “limited time only” phrase) might be assigned a score of +0.3. With a spam threshold of 5, several other tests would usually have to pass for the mail to be classified as spam. On the other hand, some tests, such as those for invalid message IDs or years, result in a very high score being assigned, where even a single test can almost put a mail “over the edge”.
When a mail’s total score is higher than an acceptable level, the mail is treated as spam and rewritten according to several options. In some cases the message will be delivered as an attachment to a warning email that the message is likely to be spam, and in others, the message will just be deleted.
Microsoft Outlook is part of Microsoft Office so you likely already have installed on your PC. It has very good spam filters which, if you set them up correctly, can really do an excellent job at catching junk email.
Using Outlook on your PC with SpamAssassin working for you on the server is one of the most effective combinations of anti-spam precautions you can take – and provided you keep Outlook updated with the current rulesets from Microsoft, you are unlikely to see any spam emails in your Inbox at all!
If you’re not sure how to set up your account for effective SpamAssassin filtering, or would like to get help in configuring Outlook to update itself and filter email for you, please get in touch.