If you are looking for anti-spam software and want to learn more about why it is crucial to get it, this post is just for you. Anti-spam software filters and prevents junk and unwanted email (spam). Just like any other type of software, anti spam software applies pre-set filters or user-defined criteria to prevent, quarantine, block, or exclude unsolicited emails from being delivered to your inbox. It can also filter incoming emails by the body, subject, recipient, or sender. Known spam domains are automatically excluded by the software.
Why Has Anti-Spam Software Become Necessary?
Email spam has many negative effects as revealed by significant research over the past decade. According to estimates, employees tend to receive as much as 100 emails daily and it takes about 3 minutes to deal with the spam messages regularly. It might not seem like a huge loss of time. However, a business that employs 1,000 workers, it would result in 11,000 hours being lost every year. Thus, it is obvious that spam affects productivity. Although the time that has been wasted deleting spam emails cannot be recovered, once spam is blocked, it would boost productivity levels.
Malicious emails are also blocked by anti-spam software. They are used as a phishing technique to get sensitive information from the recipient or to send ransomware or any other type of malware. Such methods have a huge impact on costs. Companies can suffer from millions of dollars due to a data breach. Ponemon Institute had published a study on the Annual Cost of Data Breach and it revealed that it costs $3.6 million to resolve a breach on an average.
Phishing campaigns are being increasingly used by cybercriminals in recent years. If there is no effective spam-filtering solution, the business would be vulnerable to an attack. Even though anti-spam software might be expensive, it is nowhere as costly as a data breach. Besides, the increase in productivity would easily cover the expense.
Methods Used For Detecting Malicious and Spam Emails by Anti-Spam Software
Although every anti-spam solution is slightly different, the following four controls should be expected from each solution.
- Real-Time Blackhole Lists
If a domain or IP address is found sending unsolicited emails in large volumes, it would be automatically added to the real-time blackhole list. It would allow the message sent from the domain or IP address to be directly sent to the spam or junk folder instead of being sent to the inbox as it normally would. Advancement in technology has resulted in more effective RBLs. Instead of the typical spam or not spam, black or white approach, each IP address has an IP reputation score. Various factors impact the reputation of the IP score such as hard bounces, click-through rates, open rates, and spam complaints. The level of spam filter aggression can be selected by the business to set an IP reputation score threshold.
- Sender Policy Framework
When it comes to detecting and rejecting emails that are sent from one domain and claim to be another, the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is used. It determines if the inbound message is sent from an authorized host. This helps prevent any chances of email spoofing which is a common tactic that phishers use.
- Recipient Verification
Another method that is used is recipient verification. It blocks messages that are sent to a valid domain with the wrong email address. Instead of rejecting such messages, they are immediately sent to the quarantine or spam folder.
- Content Analysis
Finally, since IP addresses can only send fewer emails, spam campaigns have become more sophisticated and it has triggered the threshold for RBL as well as made content analysis extremely crucial. Email content and message headers are analyzed by anti-spam software to look for signatures that are commonly used for spam. Moreover, with progress in machine learning, the system will only further improve in time.
What Spam Detection Methods Do Advanced Anti-Spam Software Use?
Advanced anti-spam solutions combine the techniques mentioned above and allow clients to select the level of tolerance. Messages that exceed the IP reputation and content analysis spam score would be quarantined. Clients can select the permissive level. Additional controls are incorporated by advanced anti-spam software to improve the rate of detection. The following methods are used by them.
- Grey Listing: Since spammers regularly use different IP addresses and email servers, Grey Listing comes in handy as it assesses whether the message sent is genuine.
- SURBL/ URIBL Filtering: A URL is included in most phishing emails these days and if it is clicked, it would direct you to the webpage or phishing site from where the malware would be downloaded. SURBL/ URIBL Filtering helps block such emails that contain URLs.
- SMTP Controls: These controls authenticate the configuration of email and its source. Emails that are sent from an unqualified domain would be blocked.
How You Can Choose the Right Anti-Spam Software?
It is obvious that you to the highest level of protection from spam. However, that does not mean that you should get the most expensive solution out there. Price does not equal suitability and effectiveness. There are plenty of cheaper solutions that might be better for your business. The following should be considered to choose the right software.
- There should be no hidden costs involved. You should have an idea of the cost of using the software once the trial period expires.
- Flexibility is something that you need to consider. As the business grows, the software would need to provide increased protection.
- Scalability is not the same as flexibility but is as equally important. The business might resize or restructure and the solution should adjust accordingly.
- Make sure you understand the fact that advanced spam filtering solutions would block a much higher percentage of malicious and spam emails. Thus, you would receive fewer messages.
- Make sure that the solution you choose has a low false-positive rate and a high detection rate at the same time.
Now that you know more about anti-spam software, you will have no trouble finding the solution that suits your needs best.