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© September 2004 Tony Lawrence


book image Order (or just read more about) Spamassassin  from Amazon.com

Copyright September 2004 Tony Lawrence

I'm sure that the Spamassassin developers are doing the best they can, but the sad fact is that the spammers are winning the war.

I don't think there really is a good solution for spam right now. Blacklists don't work, Bayesian filters don't work - nothing works well enough to stop spam entirely.

Still, Spamassassin is useful, and because it is configurable (and open source), you at least have complete control. That assumes, of course, that you understand how it works. That's the reason to buy a book like this, but I was a bit disappointed in that area. I'm not sure yet whether the fault is Spamassassin - maybe it's just not as configurable as it should be - or this book just not explaining things very well.

For example, I note that an awful lot of the spam I get is from certain IP blocks. I don't want to block out large ranges arbitrarily, but I thought it might be interesting to increase the Spamassassin score if the sender was in one of those ranges.

Well, if there is a way to do that, I still haven't figured it out. It could be me - maybe I just haven't read things carefully enough - but I didn't feel that I understood Spamassassin after reading this. Maybe this needs to be a bigger book - only about 100 pages are devoted to configuration and modifying rules, the rest is installation advice.

On the other hand, there's nothing else out there, and this isn't totally without value. If you are using Spamassassin, you may want to pick this up - it could be a long wait for anything better.

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More Articles by © Tony Lawrence

"For example, I note that an awful lot of the spam I get is from certain IP blocks. I don't want to block out large ranges arbitrarily..."

However, you are probably being spammed from netblocks hosted in foreign countries where it is extremely unlikely you will get any business. That is one of several philosophies I have applied to managing the spam problem on my mail server. I've analyzed where some of these netblocks are domiciled and if they are in locales that I really don't wish to exchange mail with (e.g., Russia, a big spam source) I've blocked them in access.db.

"On the other hand, there's nothing else out there..."

Probably true for non-technical users or those who don't have control over their mail servers. I don't know about PostFix or some of the other MTA's, but it is possible to set up some pretty detailed anti-spam measures with SendMail. However, doing so requires some technical understanding of the server and how rules are applied to incoming mail. I'd be the first to admit it is nowhere near 100 percent effective, but as my server log shows, a lot of junk is being stopped.


---September 24, 2004

Sure, and spamassassin catches a lot too. But too much gets through.

I don't like the idea of completely blocking foreign countries, because I do get legitimate email from people all over the world. But a lot of that email is spam, so I'd like to bump its SA score by a point or two - not enough to knock it out if it isn't spam, but to kick it over the edge if it is.


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