Stop Spam! SherWeb can do
Stop Spam! SherWeb can do it. Photo via:

Remember the good old office fax machine? And the regular stream of unsolicited faxes you’d inevitably get, like the greasy spoon all the way on the other side of town always faxing you their daily lunch special? Yup, that’s right: old-school spam.

But that was then, when spam was simply a nuisance and a waste of shiny, tightly-rolled paper (which was good for absolutely nothing else, by the way). These days, spam is a force to be reckoned with. Today’s lightweight spam reduces productivity by forcing you to sort through unwanted emails. Middleweight spam can threaten your email security system, putting all your accounts and contacts at risk. And super-heavyweight spam—like a rapid-fire attack by a botnet carrying vast amounts of email spam—can downright cripple your system.

In case you’re not familiar with the term, a botnet is a network of private computers infected with malicious software and controlled as a group without the owners’ knowledge to send spam and other unsavory things.


Of course, you might be thinking: Yeah, but what are the chances of my business being attacked by a whatchamacallit? Pretty good, in fact. These days, 88% of all spam is created by botnets. That’s a scary number for any internet-dependent business.

So there’s no arguing that all businesses online need anti-spam protection. But how much is enough? The best tools for protecting your business from the ever-present threat of spam are anti-spam filters. In a nutshell, these filters let the good emails through and toss the junk in the trash. But like most things in life, not all anti-spam filters are created equal. And to make matters worse, spammers will do just about anything to get past your filter.

That’s why a single filter usually isn’t enough. To effectively detect and weed out spam, the most advanced anti-spam systems use a combination of filters that rely on different techniques to detect the ever-growing number of tricks spammers have up their sleeves, such as hiding random text in the body of messages.

While no anti-spam protection is 100% perfect, the best systems can sift out about 98% of a company’s spam. Perhaps more importantly, they won’t block false positives—legitimate email mistaken for spam. The thought of missing important emails from a major client is enough to send shivers running down any manager’s spine.

Companies that rely on email hosting also need to ensure they have adequate spam protection and not just assume that it’s “included in the package.” Although most hosted email service providers do usually offer anti-spam filters with their product, that’s not always the case. A few hosting providers even go the extra mile to ensure their customers’ data is fully protected and offer advanced anti-spam protection free of charge. SherWeb happens to be one of them.


Having said that, your biggest concern should always be the performance of the filters. Take SherWeb’s Hosted Exchange 2010 for example. It comes with one of the most effective anti-spam protection systems available by combining two separate and powerful filters: the MailChannels Traffic Control pre-filter at the connection level, and Cloudmark intelligent content filtering at the next level.

Anti-Spam Filter by SherWeb

MailChannels pre-filters incoming emails before they even hit your network. It gives priority to legitimate emails while slowing down connections from new and otherwise not-yet-trustworthy senders to keep spam at bay. (Most spammers will simply move on to the next name on the list rather than retry an unsuccessful address.) This relieves a lot of strain on your downstream server load and eliminates server congestion.

Emails that pass this pre-filter test are then confronted with the Cloudmark spam detection engine. It scans all incoming email for suspicious content or possible viruses.

What makes Cloudmark so powerful? It is constantly being updated via 180 million reporting sources in the Cloudmark Global Threat Network. This collective intelligence provides extremely rapid response to new and mutating threats. Cloudmark generates a fingerprint for each incoming message and checks it against known bad fingerprints to determine whether the message should be blocked.

Emails that make it past this second test are the one you want—and need—to receive.

And here’s a final thought to chew on: More than 72% of all email in circulation last year was spam. So the importance of having powerful anti-spam filters will only grow exponentially each year. Given our heavy reliance on the internet these days, this leaves us with only one option: Control spam—or it will control you.

Video from MailChannels:

Written by JP Mercier Employee @ SherWeb

JP is SherWeb’s community manager. He has been working for IT companies since 2010, in both the software and cloud computing industry. JP has a degree in communication and specializes in online marketing. As a good Canadian, he is (overly) polite and loves hockey.