TelstraClear Brightmail spam filter has mixed success

TelstraClear's spam filter is getting a mixed response from users two months down the track from its launch.

TelstraClear’s spam filter is getting a mixed response from users two months down the track from its launch.

Response to a snap survey of users, through the nz.general and nz.comp newsgroups and IDG’s “PressF1” website, shows about 50% still satisfied with the service’s clearance rates on TestraClear’s two ISPs, Paradise and TelstraClear, with most of the rest reporting a rise in spam in recent weeks. One respondent says he hadn’t noticed the filter making any difference to his spam load, even when it was first introduced.

The service is supplied by US-based Brightmail, which uses human vetting to keep up with spammers’ latest lines and tricks. As TelstraClear e-commerce manager Mike Skinner explained before the launch: "Brightmail has a huge number of live accounts [for example] that sit on the mail servers of the ISPs who are their customers. Mail [sent to those addresses] that is tagged by the software as potential spam is sent to the centre and a human being looks at the [message] and classifies it as either spam or not."

This enables the spam database, against which all users’ email is checked, to be updated rapidly.

However, the filters are still facing a “huge problem” with growth in spam activity, says TelstraClear web marketing manager Michael White. It takes a little time for new “signatures” of previously unknown spam to be registered in the database.

The TelstraClear filter dumps rejected messages in a user's individual spam folder accessible on a password-protected part of its website, and this shows that between 75 and 80% of my spam is being stopped. White claims 90% effective filtering on his account.

However, the screening still passes messages with offers of supposed low-effort, highly-paid work, university degrees, cheap medications, spurious email rejection messages which appear to be due to the Swen worm, and references to alleged extreme porn websites.

Mailwasher flags just over half of these as "possible spam" or "probable spam".

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