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SpamFlare

SpamFlare uses SpamAssasin, one of the most powerful anti-spam filtering programs avail-able for e-mail servers.

If you wish to enable SpamFlare on your Softflare hosting account please contact us immediately. Having committed to keeping the cost as low as possible, we are offering SpamFlare at just £29 a year* irrespective of the number of mailboxes you have set up on your account!

The first thing that happens after SpamFlare is enabled on your account is that a new folder called ĎSpamí is created, either when you first receive a spam or overnight, whichever happens first. A ĎHamí folder is also created overnight.

  • Spam = e-mail that you definitely donít want to see
  • Ham = e-mail that you definitely do want to see

You will only notice these new folders if you are using IMAP to collect mail (as opposed to POP) and that you have set your mail client (e.g. Outlook Express) to display these new folders (please contact your System Administrator or read your mail clientís help documentation for further information). However, if you use POP instead of IMAP to collect your mail you will still be able to see the new folders if you log into your WebMail account.

But whether you use POP or IMAP, SpamFlare will work. The POP/IMAP issue is only important if you want to inspect the Spam folder for its contents (which you will want to any time an e-mail goes missing, just in case it was classified as spam and has been moved to your Spam folder).

Once enabled on your account, SpamFlare works by inspecting all incoming e-mail and assigning a points value to all aspects of an incoming message. All e-mails contain information both visible and invisible to the average user. SpamFlare checks both the visible and the hidden content of an e-mail and if it finds something that it thinks is a íspam identifierí it will add points, and it will subtract points if it finds things that it thinks make it a legitimate e-mail. This means that most of the valid e-mail you receive would get a negative value.

If an e-mail acquires 5.8 points or more it is assigned to the Spam folder, but it is NOT delet-ed. We repeat: SpamFlare does not delete any of your mail, it simply moves it so you donít get it in your Inbox.

All new incoming e-mails start off with 0 points:

  • If the e-mail starts "Dear friend" or contains no salutation SpamFlare will assign it some points (how many people that you know would write you an e-mail that starts "Dear Friend"?).
  • If it starts "Dear John" it will add no points as it is more likely to be valid. If the e-mail contains any of the words commonly associated with spam, like VIAGRA or LOWEST RATES etc, it will assign a points value for every occurrence of those words.

There are many tests the e-mail has to pass before finally being cleared, and this is all done in a split-second. Finally, it will do a tally of the total points value the message has received and add this into the invisible header of the message, like this: X-Spam-Status: No, hits=-3.3 required=5.8. This is so that you or one of our Support staff will be able to see why a spam e-mail got through when you thought it should have been assigned to the Spam folder. If a message receives 5.7 it will end up in your Inbox, but we have configured this "non aggres-sive" behaviour to limit the number of "false positives" (good e-mail that gets tagged as spam).

SpamFlare also contains an auto white/blacklist.  It keeps track of the historical points average of each sender and adjusts the score of new mail from those senders towards their historical average.  If a sender has a historical average of 1.0 and sends you a mail that would score 7.0 points, the auto whitelist averages 1.0 and 7.0 and adjusts the score to 4.0.

SpamFlare can even ĎLearní what you consider to be spam! Learning assigns scores to each word based upon how many  times that word has appeared in ham mails and how many times it has appeared in spam mails.  A word like "the" is common to both and therefore not very useful in deciding if a mail is spam or ham.  A word like "viagra" is very common to spam mails but probably rarely appears in your ham mails (unless youíre a doctor).  When a new mail arrives, SpamAssassin looks for the fifteen words that are the strongest indicators (their scores are furthest away from the neutral 0.5) and uses their scores to calculate the probability that this mail is spam or ham.

So, if youíre using IMAP, you can assist with the spam identification process by moving any spam that does get into your Inbox into the Spam folder. Why? Because SpamFlare can learn what you consider to be spam based upon what you drop into your Spam folder. Learning is a fairly long process (learning only happens overnight whilst the servers are quiet) - it learns right from the beginning, but only applies what it has learned after it has seen 200 spams and 200 non-spams. It is worth persisting with as it can reduce the amount of spam you receive even further and obstruct the attempts of the spammers to confuse the spamming rules. So, if you get a spam e-mail in your Inbox that SpamFlare has missed, donít hit Delete - move the offending e-mail into the Spam folder. If good e-mail mistakenly ends up in the Spam folder you should move it to any folder other than Trash so that it can be learned overnight.

If itís something you donít want to keep so donít want to have to remember to delete it the next day, move it to the íHamí folder where it is deleted after it has been ílearnedí. Any e-mail in the Spam folder older than 30 days is automatically deleted. That figure may decrease if we find it is using too much server space, but we will let you know at the time. Donít forget that ílearningí happens in the middle of the night, so you should not delete any-thing you have moved on the same day you moved it.

If you wish to enable SpamFlare on your Softflare hosting account please contact us immediately. Having committed to keeping the cost as low as possible, we are offering SpamFlare at just £29 a year* irrespective of the number of mailboxes you have set up on your account!

* all prices quoted are exclusive of standard rate VAT


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