What to Demand From Your Company’s Anti-Spam Product: A Quick Primer

by J. Kirk
Sr. Product Solutions Manager
Axway

In Davos, Switzerland, in 2004, Bill Gates predicted a spam-free world in two years. That, of course, didn’t even come close to fruition, and if you consider what happened from 2006 to 2009—Gates’ predicted utopian era of squeaky-clean inboxes—you have to confront the fact that spam outbreaks actually spiked consistently every twelve months.

Nothing beats human intuition in security matters, and a robust anti-spam product empowers its users with the information they need to make executive decisions on all inbound email.

Nothing beats human intuition in security matters, and a robust anti-spam product empowers its users with the information they need to make executive decisions on all inbound email.

You’ve heard all the scary numbers before. Up to 90 percent of all email is spam. One in 300 PCs has a virus. Three hundred thousand PCs get compromised every day. Only about six percent of inbound email is legitimate.

But what should you demand from your company’s anti-spam product to tackle these numbers head on and perhaps make Gates’ wild dream a reality (at least for your inbox)? And what analogy can you use in your organization’s anti-spam chats that pushes these features out of the abstract?

How about the airport?

What analogy could be better?

First, if your anti-spam product has IP reputation and content filtering, it’s performing like that first line of TSA guards who won’t even let you onto the concourse and up to the X-ray machines without a ticket and ID. Spam that can’t prove it has any business being near your inbox simply won’t be near your inbox.

Next, if your anti-spam product has artificial intelligence and image filtering, it’s performing like concourse security, checking IDs and luggage and waving the metal-detector wand. If something’s fishy at the airport checkpoint, the suspect probably isn’t going to make their flight, and likewise, even though the spam might’ve been able to get by the first line of defense, its contents betray it, and the spam is stopped dead in its tracks.

Finally, if your anti-spam product supports a human view, it’s allowing your IT department to perform like the hawk-eyed security guards in the unseen offices at the airport, standing before a large bank of monitors and taking action on the fly. Nothing beats human intuition in security matters, and a robust anti-spam product empowers its users with the information they need to make executive decisions on all inbound email.

Overlapping techniques like these combine to create a surefire method for protecting your organization against spam. Is Bill Gates’ vision of a spam-free world here today? No. But the more organizations insist on quality anti-spam products that boast these features, the less attractive spam will become to the unsavory characters who send it. And who knows? At some point, it might not even be worth their time.

(Photo by Mulad: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mulad/ / CC BY 2.0)

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