Update, September 13: MessageLabs has been successfully running at the University of Brighton for twelve weeks now and in that time, the service has:
- scanned 3,292,799 incoming email messages
- scanned 469,941 outgoing email messagesprevented 14,553 messages containing viruses from coming in
- prevented 27 messages containing viruses from being sent out of the university
- prevented 1,187,426 spam messages from being delivered to university inboxes
The support for the product has been excellent and it has so far proved very accurate in its identification of problem messages.
- Just 1 in 411,599 emails (or 0.0002%) have been incorrectly identified as spam and
- Just 1 in 113,544 (or 0.0009%) of messages that have delivered were actually found to be unwanted 'spam'
On the rare occasions that spam has slipped through, within 24 hours of the incident being reported, MessageLabs have introduced new detection rules to prevent a reoccurrence.
Update, July 26: This project is now complete and we are using MessageLabs for scanning all incoming and outgoing email.
Update, June 27: This service was released on Monday 21 June. Almost one week later, the service appears to be working successfully. At least two serious 'phishing attacks' have already been blocked. Feedback received so far suggests that SPAM coming into the university has been virtually eliminated, but do let us know your views.
Spam, viruses and other unwelcome email content have become a serious problem for the university and in response Information Services has subscribed to the MessageLabs anti-spam filtering service. The aim of this hosted service is to prevent spam from reaching our network in the first place and to prevent any bogus messages from compromised accounts being sent from the university.
How does the new spam filtering service work?
All mail coming in to the university from the internet will first pass through the MessageLabs filtering service. Any messages suspected of being spam will be returned to the sender. These messages will not be deleted, but will be kept in a quarantine folder on the MessageLabs service. Thus, if you suspect that a message you are expecting has been wrongly identified as spam, you will be able to contact our Helpdesk and ask them to retrieve the message for you.
Staff should see the following reassuring text at the bottom of messages received from, and sent to, external email addresses:
This email has been scanned by the MessageLabs Email Security System on behalf of the University of Brighton [or BSMS].
For more information please visit http://www.messagelabs.com/spam
Why do we need this service?
University policy has previously stated that we will not delete suspected spam messages that are sent to the university. instead, our SPAM filters add the text [SPAM?] to the subject line of any suspicious messages. * It is left to the recipient to decide whether to delete or read the message.
Unfortunately this has led to an increasing number of incidents where staff have inadvertently replied to spam messages and, in some cases, have given away their usernames and passwords. When this has happened, spammers have been able to send tens of thousands of messages from university accounts which has led to the university being blocked from sending any email to services such as Hotmail and Yahoo.
We recognise that this has been frustrating to all staff and students and people wishing to be contacted by members of the university. This new service aims to address those problems.
*Note that our servers WILL reject messages considered to contain viruses, phishing messages and other "malware".
MessageLabs services are currently used in over 83 countries and customers include the whole of UK central government, 35% of local government and 30% of FTSE 350 organisations. More significantly MessageLabs have a 99% success rate in capturing spam and removing threats. We anticipate that by using this service we will be able to protect the university's digital reputation and prevent future blocking of the university's email systems. We also expect to virtually eliminate internet spam and hoaxes from your inboxes.
Over the next few weeks, Information Services will be configuring and testing connections with MessageLabs services. We expect to release the new anti-spam filtering by the end of June 2010.
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