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ITS Training

Dealing with Spam at CWU

SPAM Defined

A “spam” e-mail is generally defined as an unsolicited commercial mailing, usually to many people. Also, it's generally from someone you don't know or do business with, at least not that you can identify. Although there is no one set way to completely get rid of spam, we can take steps to reduce it. Spammers will often send out e-mails to random destinations, not even knowing if the e-mails are valid. Whatever you do, do NOT reply to a spam e-mail.  This only lets the spammer know he's hit a valid e-mail address (yours) and you will just get more spam. Also, do NOT sign up at one of those sites that offer to “remove” you from spam lists.  Again, all this does is let spammers know of a valid e-mail address that they can send more spam.

What Gets Blocked (And What Doesn't)

CWU does subscribe to a spam blocking service. However, due to the nature of spam, some of it still gets through. For example, in June 2010, CWU received 23,443,472 incoming emails from the Internet (June was a slow month). Of those emails 19,408,560 were immediately discarded by our system due to origin (know spam houses), content, etc. As a result, only 4,034,912 emails were sent on to the Precise Mail System for further review and filtering (this all happens before GroupWise or any email client sees the emails). Of those, 2,346,328 were identified as spam/offensive by Precise Mail were quarantined or sent to the discard folder, and were not delivered to anyone's inbox at CWU. So ... of the original 23,443,472 emails coming to CWU, only 1,688,584 (or roughly 7.2%) were actually delivered to the intended recipient. That's a lot of filtered garbage.

And yes ... even then we know that some spam and offensive mail gets delivered, we wish that didn't happen. So how can we eliminate even more bad email from reaching you?

We have 2 choices:

  1. Set the global spam filtering so tight that CWU filters "false positives", meaning that some legitimate emails won't get delivered. We obviously want to minimize that.
  2. Set the global spam filtering to eliminate the vast majority of spam and offensive emails with minimal false positives, and allow the users to tailor their tolerances to catch those last few emails that make it though. That's why CWU uses Precise Mail so that users can set up allow lists, block lists, tailor their tolerance for offensive emails, set specific rules, and more. Check it out by logging into MyCWU and selecting SPAM GATEWAY! It literally only takes a few minutes, and HelpDesk staff are available to assist.

For more information on how you can use the Precise Mail tool to tailor your spam tolerances, go Filtering Your Spam with Precise Mail.