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Loyola University Chicago

University Information Security Office

Spam

What is spam?
The generally accepted definition of spam is that it is an email message which is both bulk and unsolicited. "Unsolicited means that the Recipient has not granted verifiable permission for the message to be sent. Bulk means that the message is sent as part of a larger collection of messages, all having substantively identical content."
http://www.spamhaus.org/definition.html

So an unsolicited message that is sent directly to you, which could be viewed as the equivalent to a "cold call" from a salesperson, is not spam. Similarly, a message sent to a discussion list is bulk, but is not spam.

Why can't you just stop spam?

The short answer is that the only way to stop all spam is to stop all email. The long answer is a bit more complicated. Spammers make money from the number of people who choose to purchase their product. They know that a very small percentage of the people who receive their spam will purchase the product. During the recent trial of Jeremy Jaynes, who was convicted under a federal anti-spam law, it was revealed that he typically sent out over 10 million spam emails every day. The response rate to spam was around one response per 30,000 spam messages, so the more messages a spammer can successfully send to live email accounts, the more likely they are to make money. This leads to a never-ending battle between spamming techniques and spam filtering techniques. As we begin to identify new ways to block spam, the spammers are creating new techniques to get past our blocks and into your inbox. Another concern with filtering messages is creating what are known as false positives. A false positive is a message that is tagged as spam, but was actually a message that you wanted to receive. There is a balancing act when setting the threshold for identifying a message as spam between blocking as many messages as possible while not marking any legitimate messages as spam.

What is Loyola University Chicago doing about spam?

SpamAssassin

Loyola University Chicago runs a product called Spam Assassin to attempt to identify spam messages in your email. Any message that Spam Assassin identifies as spam is marked with a [SPAM] tag in the subject line. This allows you to easily identify spam messages, and configure rules to automatically delete the spam if you want. We do not automatically delete messages that are believed to be spam because they could be false positives, as described above.

Blocking List

We also subscribe to SpamCop's BL (Blocking List) which lists IP addresses that have been reported to be used by spammers.  As mail comes in, it is checked against the SCBL, and any messages sent from listed addresses are blocked.  The SCBL is time-based, resulting in quick and automatic delisting of reported sites when reports stop.

MailFoundry

On Saturday July 26 a new spam blocking device, the MailFoundry, was added to our current detection system.  The MailFoundry Anti-Spam appliance is a complete email security system that works by routing your email to MailFoundry’s appliance where it is cleaned before being sent back to Loyola’s email servers. Benefits of using the MailFoundry include; protection against new email threats as they happen in real-time from around the world, reduced number of spam messages received, reduced number of false positives, and reliable virus filtering.

You will receive a daily digest report containing email messages quarantined from the MailFoundry around 7am each morning. The daily quarantine digests should be viewed for false positives, which is email detected as spam that is not spam. The digest will contain the following options for each email:

1. View – allows you to view the contents of a message in quarantine
2. Release – sends the quarantined message directly to your inbox
3. Release & Report – sends the quarantined message to your inbox after reporting it to the MailFoundry as not spam

Because you must wait until you receive your next quarantine digest to release a false positive, there will typically be a one day delay for such messages. 

No action is needed to block spam mail.

Frequently Asked Questions about the MailFoundry can be found www.luc.edu/uiso/mailfoundry.shtml.


What can I do to decrease the amount of spam I receive?

It is almost impossible to receive no spam mail. The goal is to reduce the amount of spam that you see, which can be helped by;

Move suspected spam to a Junk Mail folder or automatically delete suspected spam from your inbox
Block the sender and/or domain

If you are accessing your email through Outlook, instead of just deleting a spam message, select Actions -> Junk Mail -> Block Sender. This will bring up a dialog box asking if you want to block the sender or the entire domain. If the sender belongs to a domain which might contain people who will send you non-spam messages (like hotmail.com or yahoo.com), make sure that Block e-mail from this address is selected then click OK.


If the sender belongs to a domain which you don't expect to contain anyone you know (such as reikisource.com), select Block any email from this internet domain and click OK.



 

This way, in addition to deleting the message, you will be decreasing the amount of spam you receive in the future.

There are also a number of proactive steps you can take to try and limit the amount of spam that you receive.

  
What if I forward my Loyola email to a Yahoo, Hotmail, or Gmail account?


As the email passes through Loyola University Chicago's servers, it may be tagged as spam by our servers. Any messages that are believed to be spam will be tagged with [Spam] in the subject line. You can then configure rules within each service to automatically delete the spam messages. Please be aware that any messages sent directly to a non-Loyola account will not be examined for spam by Loyola University Chicago, so you will have to rely on the spam-filtering tools of your service provider.

For Yahoo mail, perform the following steps:

For Hotmail, perform the following steps:

For Gmail, perform the following steps:



Loyola

Information Technology Services
1032 W. Sheridan Ave. · Chicago, IL 60660 · 773.508-7373
DataSecurity@luc.edu

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