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The fight against spam continues

The fight against spam continues

The fight against spam continues

Spam is a major issue for every user and every provider of email. Running an effective email platform is a major challenge for us, and despite a lot of investment the spam situation only seems to have got worse. We know that many customers have seen an increase in the amount of spam received, particularly in the last month. Christmas is always a busy time for spammers and they have refined their tactics to try and get around spam filters (even though to you and I the emails are obviously still spam). In November we announced a partnership with Postini, who are widely regarded as one of the world’s leaders in the fight against spam. We’ve already started to integrate the Postini solution into our own mail platform and so far have moved all Metronet, Free-Online and Force9 customers to the new system. We’ll soon be moving PlusNet customers and then we’ll begin the next stage of the integration. There are other things you can do to help reduce the amount of spam that you receive. Our Manage My Mail tool allows you to set up spam protection and choose how to deal with any spam that does make it past our spam filters. You can also set up extra mailboxes, aliases and re-directs should you wish. Read more about Manage My Mail There will be more news in the next few days about the Postini partnership, so keep an eye on the Community Site for updates.

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68 Comments
Not applicable
I have used SpamCop from SpamCop.net in conjunction with MailWasher Pro, from Firetrust.com Reporting by this method has not just helped in reducing spam down to a manageable level, but gives an element of satisfaction in that you can analyse the true origin of the rubbish, and report to the originating ISP and Hosts
Newbie
I do exactly the same as sprintsystems. The amount of Spam decreased immensely although, yes, it takes time to send and report (Spamcop that is). mailwasher's fine as well. Don't do a Mac version as yet. Any other method of stopping these leeches is great, count me in, Now!
Grafter
I think ISP's could do more to prevent SPAM than they currently do. If I had for example, the option to automatically reject mail originating from China, Russia, or Eastern European countries, I would opt in. It's technically easy to do - the organisation I work for was receiving junk eMail from Chinese IP addresses at a rate of several hundred per minute. We simply blocked the entire Chines block of IP addresses at our firewall, so that connection attempts to our mail server were never accepted. The spam stopped within about 15 minutes. Obviously this would not suit everyone (for example, if you've got friends or relatives in these countries!), but if enough people were to opt-out from foreign mail, it would put the internet providers in these countries under heavy pressure to do something about their spammers! Why not publish figures regularly for the countries which source spam? And for the really bad ones, take it a step further, and name-and-shame the ISP's, with an option to auto-block mail from them! When they start loosing customers because their genuine users experience problems sending mail to the UK, they might get their act together and do something about catching these low-lifes! Blocking Spam is all very well, but we need to see action which makes life impossible for the spammers, and the ISP's who allow them to do their dirty work. We need to see ISP's taking legal action against any of their customers who they catch sending spam!
Newbie
Excellent choice with Postini. One of the best in the market. Spam should drop to a drickle. After tuning false negatives should be down to 1 or 2 a month (if that). Bring it on !
Grafter
I like that idea to be able to block spam on a per country basis, the only dealings I have via email and China is some chap who emails me monthly offering his services - great but essentially he's offering to do *my own* job cheaper over there - thanks but no thanks!
Grafter
About time the spam issue was sorted. I have ditched my primary email address and gone over to Gmail. No spam there. Perhaps because Google already uses Postini... in fact don't they own it?
Not applicable
I am 69 and can't be bothered with all the sexual implications in the spam rubbish and will be very pleased when you put me on Postini, changing my address or these other tricks warps my mind I like a simple life, so good on you Plus net cut them down for me
Not applicable
I agree its very important to stop spam. the problem really started for me when plusnet mail system was last compromised by script kiddies. Prior to that I kept my email accounts address virtually spam free despite having them for many years. It makes me wonder if plusnet take security seriously when you are able to logon to this site using clear text authentication (i.e. no https). You can also logon to your account using clear text http://portal.plus.net/index_portal.html?home=login https is available on both these sites if you specifically type it.
Community Veteran
jashley, although the page with the form on it is being served over HTTP, the action element for the form is pointing to https://portal.plus.net/index_portal.html?home=login so your username and password is being sent over HTTPS.
Not applicable
To be quite honest ... I think if Plus.net had done more to stop the comprimise in security then we wouldn't have this problem. I had little or no spam mail up until that point. Bottom line if I hadn't signed up for another 12 mths I would be at a professional ISP like Eclipse Internet. I have referred a number of people to plus.net and will be migrating them as soom as thier contract is up.
Dabbler
I am using Spamcop too and it works really great. Could Plusnet offer this as a service with a list of blacklist providers. So that Spam get bounced and not accepted at all. This way a legitimate user gets notified and can complain to his/her ISP about being on a SPAM blacklist. (To avoid indefinite bouncing between two ISPs a TTL should be used like for normal IP traffic) I understand if an ISP can not do it for everyone automatically because of legal reasons, but the ISp can over this to their customers as a service. Markus
Not applicable
What I find interesting is that when I compare the SPAM I receive at my force9 mailbox to the SPAM I receive at my American dslextreme.com mailbox ... +net gets much much more (orders of magnitude) What I then find unusual is that Mozilla thunderbird is able to catch all the messages that +net's current/old filter missed Seems the amount is worse in the UK (or maybe specifically at +net) and the client-side solution is better
Newbie
The simple answer to spam is to turn the "catch all" facility off on the mail box on the server. I did this about six months ago on my mail boxes at Force9 and PlusNet and haven't received a spam email since. This message posted in reply to the auto message from Phil Webb.
Not applicable
Is there any way NOT to have our mail filtered, or to find the mails that have been blocked? I have noticed that the offers to enlarge various parts of my body seem to have slowed down in the last two weeks, which is great, but I've also been unable to receive mail from various firms who I've actually asked to mail me. twice now I've asked someone to email me, and then asked them why they haven't only to find that they have, and it never got through. At least with hotmail I get the option to decide what is spam and what isn't.
Not applicable
Well thanks to all the spam i've received i now have gold and diamond shares in africa, i've helped lots of people out over seas with inheritance recovery and have won the lottery on numerous occasions. My sex life has never been better, i get a constent supply of pill's, i have a and manhood with a gerth of the M25 and the length of Blackpool tower. I'd like to opt out of PLUS.NET's war on spam - i've never been so happy sifting thorough 200 spam emails a day wondering what the next exciting product will be. Thanks
Not applicable
Much as I agree that ISPs should help us deal with spam, I also want to be assured that I'll be able to check everything for an initial period, as (for example) my Yahoo account generates a lot of incorrect spam (bulk) labels.
Newbie
It is about time Plus Net did something about SPAM I have not used your mail systems since the security breach last year and my Plus Net mailbox has been swamped with SPAM from that period. The bulk of SPAM should be blocked at service providers gateways using DNS Block Lists from the Spamhaus Project, Spamcop etc the technology has been available for some time to thwart SPAM but knowing Plus Net's track record if there is a cost involved they will not adopt it.
phd
Newbie
I have been with Free-Online for as long as I can remember probably around 8 years, I very rearly give out my free-online e-mail address and never had any spam e-mails. With the recent switchover to PlusNet I now get regular Spam e-mails, at the moment it is only a few dozon over about a months period, but it is a pain none the less. I always click and report these as Spam, whether that makes any difference or not! I don't think it's a coincidence the this happened when the move was made, and hope that things get back to what I have been used to with Free-Online.
Newbie
At the risk of repeating myself just turn off "catch all" on their server and you will not get spam. It really is that simple.
Not applicable
I think the real problem with spam filtering is that generally it works on a message-by-message basis, so it fails to spot the one common demominator of all spam e.g. that it goes to multiple addresses. If I could run a "cancelbot" on my email triggered by messages to dead or bogus addresses I think I could get 99%+ accuracy on viagra spam with no false positives. In fairness the 419 scams would probably get through because they don't seem to be spread so widely.
Grafter
I also use Firetrust products and they are a great as others have said, also I have found very useful for the internet surfing Sitehound. And I also think Postini is a good choice. Keep up the good work.
Not applicable
Block/blacklists like SpamCop and SpamHaus are only of benefit as part of a scoring system for spam as their false positive rate is far too high to trust on its own. As with others, until the security breach last year, I had a very low level of spam even though I used well over 150 aliases. I don't really want to blackhole my catchall yet as I am still receiving messages each week to old aliases that I have not yet added to other mailboxes, although with over 7,600 messages (which had got past the current spam checker) sat in my catchall inbox from the past two weeks this is starting to become unmanagable. Looking forward to Postini making life easier again!
Not applicable
i don't get any spam. i don't use plusnet email Smiley
Grafter
I am a Force9 customer and therefore should be seeing the benefit of the Postini system but as yet there has been no reduction in SPAM and the content is becoming more and more obscene. I am sorry to throw a spanner in the works but we really need an effective solution from PlusNet!
Newbie
We use MailControl and find this particularly useful as you receive a single email report either daily or weekly listing the clean and suspicious messages you would have received. This then gives you the opportunity to select any email which isn't spam and have them delivered. Does Postini give you the option to report on caught email and release them?
Not applicable
i use mailwasher, an effective chore. i was curious about the implications of turning the 'catch all' function off. i use bt internet at my office and get practically zero spam; spam is what stopped me using plus net for the office as i am otherwise a happy user at home. i guess you get what you pay for... i trust that postini will make a difference and eliminate the steady torrent of sex drugs and scam propositions - it needs to.
Not applicable
I wish Postini did work as well as PlusNet think it should. Having elected to join the trial, I cannot say I see any real drop in spam levels. It's possible Postini does work and the increase in correctly tagged spam as seen on the webservers is due to an increase in spam levels - I have no means to tell. Curiously, what reaches my Windows Mail client in Vista is trapped by the inbuilt filter there. The headers show Postini has passed them as "innocent". However, false positives in the webservers do appear to be dropping.
jmd
Grafter
I have had virtually no spam since turning off catch all and having domain address so I ope the changeover to postini does not mean I start getting it!
Not applicable
I agree 100% with nightmoves (January 8th, 2008 at 11:28 pm ). All my spam problems began with the failure of plus net to safeguard our data and likewise, I too will be taking my business elsewhere when this current contract expires.
LDW
Newbie
# phd said: I have been with Free-Online for as long as I can remember ... With the recent switchover to PlusNet I now get regular Spam e-mails... hope that things get back to what I have been used to with Free-Online. # January 9th, 2008 at 8:50 am raven17 said: just turn off “catch all” on their server and you will not get spam.... ================== My situation is exactly the same as phd's - a long-time happy Free-Online customer now getting throroughly cheesed off with PlusNet's failure to stop spam. And I recommended Free-Online Turning off catch-all (as raven suggests) is no good for me, as I have used multiple email addresses - no problem with Free-Online. I've used so many 'anythingyoulike@' type addresses I can't possibly track them all. I had message from Phil Webb in my inbox this morning promises me reduced spam. I also had 40 new spamming emails in the last six hours... And two incorrectly identified as spam. PlusNet have got about a week to sort this out before I too jump ship.
Not applicable
What I find so frustrating is that so much of the spam which is not caught is so patently obvious from the subject line, which could easily be scanned. How can anyone imagine that all these subjects which use common slang for 'penis' embedded in long 'single word' which are in no dictionary known to the world can possibly be anything other than spam? Similarly surely anything containing the words Replica, watches, bling should be analysed to within an inch of its life. I can readily spot that 5 of the messages I have received are identical apart from the sender or the subject and are therefore spam why can't the software? Come on Plusnet, you have been sitting on you hands for far too long. I get hundreds of Spam messages a week now just what are you doing about pursung their sources and blacklisting them or getting them taken off the net. If ther are lots of Bots what action do you take to inform the owners they have been taken over?
Not applicable
I've been waiting for Plusnet to DO something ever since their p*ss-poor security exposed all our addresses to the spammers in the first place. Sadly, as expected, it's got worse. In the meantime, I've been transferring all my contacts to a Gmail system. Another 151 spams today - so, time for me to take action. Bye bye PlusNet - won't be back anytime soon.!
Grafter
I cannot understand the advantage of putting a tag on an email to say it is spam. As a result of this practice virtually all my email has this tag so it is absolutely pointless. I think this comes from my Kasperski Internet Security software . I rely on my email for enquiries for my holiday villa I rent and because of this I would not want emails from unknown siurces to be filtered out. I therefore rely on Cloudmark to sift out the spam which it usually does very efficiently, though even that on ocassions traps a genuine clent trying to contact me. I am wary of having another filter in place unless it is 100% reliable. I am therefore very wary of having all my email sifted without any way of checking what is not getting through. It does not sound like Postini is in the same league as Cloudmark
Not applicable
I opened a free Googlemail account a couple of years ago. I forward all my f9 mail through that and the SPAM is stripped out. Googlemail is POP3 compliant so you can set it up to download to Outlook or Outlook Express, I now have a fast web based email service that is accessible on my phone or anywhere in the world.
Newbie
I''ve been part of the Postini trial with Plusnet for about 2months now and after the settling in period, I have found spam has more or less completely stopped - just one since Xmas. but I only use Plusnet at home so my e-mail address isn't that well known. my business account is with Demon who use Cloudmark and that cuts out a lot of shite out although some stuff still gets through but bearing in mind that the e-mail addresses we use have been out there in t'interweb for some time, I'm not suprised. I also have the luxury of a mail server that can check RBL lists and filter tagged mail to a special mailbox and I have to say that since Xmas, I have not seen one false positive so Spamhaus is working well for us. so - my conclusion is to choose your ISP wisely and go with one that offers a spam service as it does get rid of a load of spam - eventually. if you have the facility to collect mail by SMTP then also consider using RBL lists and greylists as this adds another layer of defence .
Grafter
My PlusNet email didn't get any spam before the famous webmail exploit and then got shedloads -- until I joined the Postini trial.... Now I'm back to less than one a day (sic) and even these are being marked as Spam 2..... I've switched off the PlusNet spamchecker because contention with Postini was causing a lot of false positives, and I don't use any other mail scrubber. In other words, nearly all the stuff inflicted on me by the security lapse is now being caught at the edge (before PlusNet itself has to deal with it). I'd like to thank Phil Webb for his apologetic email, but I have to say it caused me some amusement! The Christmas rush of spam simply passed me by! I'm not just gloating, btw, but making another plea for the complete roll-out of Postini AS SOON AS POSSIBLE...
Not applicable
Whatever is done, please retain the idea of adding [Spam] as a prefix to the subject line. This means that I can have local email client rules which checks for known addresses, such as my clients, and only after checking those delete any with the Spam prefix. That means that if any do get incorrectly flagged, I still see them and give them priority. If they get stopped before they reach my inbox, I don't get that option and risk lost business.
Dabbler
I am getting over 500 spams a day at the moment. After being away on business for two days it took over an hour to get my email sorted after downloading all that crap. Please, get Postini rolling!!
Grafter
JohnF: I've never found SpamCop to be slow. When using Outlook Express, simply right mouse click on all the Spam e-mails, and then send to Spamcop as attachments to an e-mail. If only submitting Spam e-mails to PlusNet was this easy! Raven17: Turning off catch-all will solve some people's Spam problems, but it won't help those of us whose e-mail addresses were harvested when the webmail server was hacked into. These are real e-mail addresses that are now known to the spammers. Hugh1945: Why not use a BTInternet e-mail account with a PlusNet ADSL connection? BTInternet bins far more Spam at source than PlusNet does. This isn't referring to e-mails that will be marked as [SPAM], it is simply e-mail that the BTInternet servers refuse to accept, and we never see it. Unfortunately, this actually rejects valid e-mail (mostly from mailing lists in my experience), as well as Spam e-mail, and the majority of people know nothing about it.
Rab
Not applicable
How do I turn the 'Catch all' off?
Newbie
PlusNet. I had to resort to using Querb. 10435 quarantined messages since April 2005. I await PlusNet action with interest. I, for one am fed up with the increased spam these past few months.
Not applicable
I do get quite a lot of spam but it's manageable. What infuriates me more is the false negatives as this means I have to receive all spam so I can pick out the non-spam that's wrongly tagged. I cannot therefore leave the spam to go into a folder on the server. I have constantly since joining (october 07) forwarded my incorrectly tagged emails to notspam and it's made no difference. So much legitimate email gets tagged as spam. I can have two consecutive emails from the same person and one will be tagged as spam and the other not. I even have had McAfee and WorldPay emails tagged as spam. There seems to be no reasons I can see. Also, some ridiculously obvious spam gets missed, even foreign characters throughout the email!! Surely this is an easy one for your filters to pick up? I am concerend that a poster above who has been trialling Postini is reporting that he gets a lot of false negatives, so I'm not so hopeful I'm afraid, and I wasn't even part of the email disaster that befell so many PlusNet users as that was before my time. Orange were absolutely crap as an ISP, speed wise, etc., but whatever junk filters they used were good because I rarely got a false negative so could confidently let all the tagged spam stay on their server in the junk folder.
Not applicable
I had a huge increase in spam up till Christmas,mostly of the personal enlargement kind. I got so fed up with it that I installed Norton Anti-Spam which helped a lot. I use two email addresses/servers, and the only one allowing this spam was F9;I had none through from Supanet. Now,all of a sudden the spam has ceased altogether,so your new system must be working well;thank God for that!
Grafter
Up till this week the spam filter has worked reasonably well with only a few getting through although many of these were 'obvious' spam from the headings and should have been detected. But in the last week lots of genuine message have been marked as spam and I am having to review all the messages marked as spam really carefully to pick out the genuine ones. This completely defeats the object of having a spam filter. I have also become aware of several messages sent to my correct address which have not been received. I would rather receive a small amount of spam than risk losing genuine messages. Clearly this new filter is not working as well as it should.
Not applicable
My problems also started with the security breach last year. Imagine how I feel when I see spam with my own email address being used! This issue is going to take a VERY long time before it's finally resolved.
Grafter
@charlieapple (and watton) I don't think you'll have to worry so much about genuine email being tagged as [-SPAM-] once the old DSPAM filters have been removed. It is these that are causing the present trouble, not the new Postini system. Of course, it'll still be necessary to check tagged emails in case, but in the two months of the trial I have not seen a single genuine email picked out as spam by Postini, nor a single spam email not marked as such in the headers.
Grafter
I got an e-mail that had got through the PlusNet Spam filter, and my own two spam filters, from admin@viagra.com. Surely something should have stopped that one!
Not applicable
Regarding the viagra email. Mozilla's Thunderbird mail client caught that one for me after +net's server side failed to.
Grafter
Unfortunately, I don't use Thunderbird, because Thunderbird doesn't synchronise with Palm Versamail (at least it didn't last time I looked). I take back what I said about it being difficult to report spam to PlusNet. I thought it was necessary to forward the e-mail "inline". However, I've just read the help pages, and it's not necessary, so I can simply send all the Spam to spam@despamchecker.plus.com in one go as several attachments to one e-mail (just as I would with SpamCop). http://www.plus.net/support/security/spam/spam_protection_guide.shtml#5
Postini is an excellent choice you have made, i chose it form my company in 2005 -- best thing we ever did, monitors multiple domains, and has an excellent control portal. maybe now i won't have to use my Mailwasher Pro so much (300+ spam per 3 days).