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Spam - We Have It, Now How Do We Stop It?

Mar 10, 2008
If your stock performance has matched the percentage rise of email spam, you will be retiring soon. The latest indicators are stating that Spam has nearly doubled in the past year alone. It now affects nearly everyone with an email account. Unfortunately for business, it also carries a rising cost in staff, resources and performance. Here are some strategies on how to start your assault on winning back your Inbox.

The Basic Game Plan

We believe there are three essential elements to controlling spam:

Develop an appropriate corporate email usage policy (AUP)
Formally educate end users of expectations and consequences

Deploy appropriate anti-spam technology

Corporate Email Acceptable Use Policy And User Training

If you have a corporate email system it is critical that you also have an acceptable use policy. A good email policy is essential for making employees aware of corporate rules and standards, giving guidelines on how to handle certain types of email and situations, and to inform employees that their email may be monitored.

While most organizations have email policies, many policies tend to lack detail on how employees can deal with inappropriate email. Regarding spam control, a good email use policy and education program would include at least the following:

Newsletters and online sites. The conditions under which employees can sign up for newsletters, forums, newsgroups and chat rooms - these should be business related and within company guidelines.

How to deal with spam and other inappropriate email. A good idea is to have an internal email address where spam or other inappropriate email can be forwarded and monitored by email administrators.

How to avoid being listed. Careful use of corporate email addresses is important. Another of the basic rules is not to reply to spam asking to be removed from the list - this will only confirm a valid email address to a spammer.

Once you have an email usage policy, the next key step is to ensure all employees are educated in its contents and are regularly trained in correct email usage and handling.

Remember, the more company email addresses are made available in public areas, the more likely they will be picked up and used by spammers. Corporate email addresses should be used cautiously on the Internet. Company policy and user education is the key!

Deploying An Anti-Spam Technology

The other essential element in controlling spam is the use of anti-spam technology. There are many different technical approaches to blocking spam; message content analysis, and blacklists of known spam and spammers are two examples. A combination of approaches is now necessary to effectively combat spam.

One of the best ways to control spam in an enterprise is to employ a content filtering device between your firewall and your email server. Protecting your email system at the gateway (the point where email enters your organization) will block spam prior to it ever entering your email servers. There are many advantages:

You can block spam before it reaches your email servers and therefore your users
Management and software updates can be controlled centrally by an email administrator
There is no need to deploy desktop client software or train users on how to use it.

Traits Of An Anti-Spam Solution

A comprehensive tool to control spam needs to be based on an array of functionalities. The two key concepts are detection and management. This should be within the context of an integrated email content management package. An anti-spam system should be positioned as a global solution. It should provide an organization the means to control all email content, including spam, viruses, text, and attachments within a rules-based framework.

With a gateway solution, email can be quarantined, forwarded to administrators, or marked as possible 'spam'. All quarantined email can then be managed centrally from a console. Standard functionality should also provide end users the ability to review and manage spam addressed to them via simple inbox rules.

It is also reasonable to expect an ROI on your choice.

Conclusion

Although effective solutions require multi-faceted approaches, there are integrated technologies available in a single product. Begin your search now and be sure to test the product on your actual environment prior to any final decision. The selection should be effective, easy to use and show a marked reduction in your staff's time fighting spam.

For further general information about email usage policies and how to design one, contact Enclave Data ( www.enclavedata.com )and request a full Word Doc template that you can customize to your environment. This is a great first step within your company to take back control of your email.

We work with companies to assure their data and messaging is in compliance and secure. Our solutions are state of the art, quick to implement, cost effective and provide the comfort to know your data is secure. A phone discussion is a great way to assess your environment and what would be the best action plan. Visit our website www.enclavedata.com to learn more.

You have the responsibility to maintain your company's digital environment, with the right tools you can now also have the control to assure compliance and protect your company's assets.
About the Author
Dan Schutte is the President of Enclave Data Solutions, specializing in messaging security, content filtering, anti-spam software, email/IM archival and compliance. Visit http://www.enclavedata.com to read actual Case Studies of how companies have successfully protected their data networks and messaging.
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