Melbourne medical institute takes Kiwi spam cure

Move ties into email infrastructure overhaul

With as much as 90% of its inbound email classified as spam, the McFarlane Burnet Centre for Medical Research and Public Health in Melbourne has signed up to a New Zealand hosted mail filtering service to cut back the deluge.

The institute’s IT director, Paul Stephens, says the problem was so bad the amount of data coming into the organisation in the form of spam would fill people’s mail box quotas in only two days. To curb the problem, the institute entered into a hosted email filtering service with Kiwi vendor Death2Spam (D2S). “We had a delta-based rule based on SpamAssassin running off a WatchGuard [but] the attractive quality of D2S is it’s hosted off-site so we don’t have to worry about traffic or servers,” he says, adding the customer service has also been good.

“It is simple to implement and to change [so] if you are not happy you can point back to your own systems again. We could run it on own server here but I couldn’t see the point as it would cost us more.” Stephens says the biggest problem so far is getting users to go to the online portal at least once a month and check for false positives.

“Because we are a non-profit they gave us a good deal, and the reduction in traffic costs, email storage, and staff time have paid for itself,” he says.

The solution has also helped alleviate rogue connections to the mail server associated with phishing, and cut email down from 280,000 messages per week to 78,000, “supposedly with 99.8% accuracy”.

With 400 accounts, the institute is using a combination of Sendmail and Oracle’s collaboration suite for email transport, with a view to using mostly Oracle by the end of the year.

“Sendmail is useful as an external gateway as it’s pretty fast and you can do things with it quite quickly so we might be keeping it for other domains,” Stephens says.

“But I’m quickly becoming an Oracle DBA. It’s either that or Exchange, but we are 40% Macs, and I’ve heard of mainly bad experiences with Notes. They all have their issues.”

Stephens says the good thing about using an Oracle database for email is data recovery.

“You just have to learn to deal with it. We only have five IT people and it gets a bit busy and Oracle is a steep learning curve,” he says.

“We were POP with no webmail and Oracle has web email with calendar, shared folders, and web conferencing.”

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Tags emailspamdeath2spamFiltering

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