SpamAssassin: Stopping Email Spam in its Tracks


Spam, it is the email we all hate, and the food we all love to make fun of. Spam in its email form has been around pretty much since the beginning of email. However, today there are countless numbers of filters and software programs designed to limit the amount we actually receive. One of those programs, and the one Stellar Blue uses, is called SpamAssassin. Here is the rundown of what SpamAssassin is, what it does and how we use it.

Sophisticated Spam Filter
SpamAssassin is an open source piece of software that is used to filter out spam email. It is installed on all of Stellar Blue’s servers. Any clients that are on our servers and host their email through us have SpamAssassin watching their inbox. It is an amazing tool, and here is how it works.

SpamAssassin uses various sophisticated means of testing to figure out a spam score for each piece of email. This piece of email is given a number between 1 and 10. Emails that fall in the 8-10 range are almost always spam. Emails that fall in the 1-3 category can be considered safe. Most email falls somewhere in between.

Stellar Blue then sets a filter in SpamAssassin that corresponds to one of these numbers. If we set the filter to 5, then any piece of email marked by SpamAssassin to be between 5 and 10 will be deleted if set to auto-delete, or pushed to a spam folder. By default, Stellar Blue typically sets this filter to 5, and can then be adjusted as needed. Typically, the stronger the better.

No Spam Filter is Perfect
Sometimes, a piece of email may come in that is marked as a 6, but may be an email that a client actually wants to receive. Basically, the software can occasionally produce a false positive. The opposite can also happen, marking an email as a 4 when in reality the client thinks of it as spam. This is inevitable due to the crafty nature of spammers, and the fact that email addresses, copy and layout can range greatly.

If a client reports that email from a particular sender is constantly being marked as spam due to their filter settings, but is actually from a reputable sender, we can create a whitelist. We can whitelist specific email addresses, domains and patterns, and then all email from that sender will automatically pass through SpamAssassin’s filter.

We can also do the opposite. If a certain sender or domain is constantly making it through the filter, even though the filter is set to something moderate or strict, we can blacklist that email address or domain. That way, we can keep the filter setting the same, and only block the emails that are sneaking through.

Therefore, If you use Stellar Blue servers, and you have email coming or going marked as ***SPAM***, it likely means your filter number simply needs adjusting, or a whitelist/blacklist created. Simply reach out to our support team, and we will work with you to get the settings changed.

In Conclusion
SpamAssassin is a robust and effective email spam filter. While not perfect, the majority of the time it does a great job at blocking spam while also being adjustable to a client’s needs. If you want to learn more about, or have a question on digital security and what Stellar Blue can do for you and your website, contact a Stellar Blue representative today!


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