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Postini keeps you from going postal over spam

Mar 22, 20044 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMalware

* Postini keeps the bad guys out

I was glad to see that Postini Perimeter Manager took top honors in Network World’s anti-spam category in the recent “Best” issue.  I’ve been using that product for about two months now, and I think it’s fabulous.  Based on my company’s experience, I would recommend that mail administrators in mid-to-large-size organizations give Postini a good look.

As I told you in the past, my company outsourced our Exchange-based e-mail a few months ago to Utopia Systems.  At first, we didn’t subscribe to Utopia’s anti-spam service, and we found our in-boxes overwhelmed with spam.  Common statistics today say that 65% or more of all e-mail coming into your in-box is spam, and we certainly were experiencing those rates.  Of greater concern, though, were all the viruses and worms that are borne on the junk e-mails.  We had to find a way to stop them before they ever entered our e-mail system.

We subscribed to Utopia Systems’ anti-spam service and found instant relief.  It was like taking an aspirin for a headache and having it go away immediately.

Eric White, a principal manager at Utopia Systems, says its product of choice for anti-spam is Postini Perimeter Manager.  “Postini offers a very workable solution for us, and we can pass that service on to our customers,” White says.  Half of Utopia’s new e-mail hosting contracts include Postini with them, he says.

White says he likes the Postini product because it offers very quick provisioning of accounts, and it gives the end users a high degree of control over the e-mail.  It’s also very scalable and it saves on bandwidth because the trapped spam mail never even gets through to your server.

As an end user, I can tell you that I really like the control I have over my mail.  I can set the sensitivity level of how e-mail is evaluated and filtered in terms of sexually explicit materials, get rich quick schemes, special offers, and racially insensitive material.  Since I’m not interested in enlarging body parts I don’t even have and I don’t need a new mortgage, I set my “sex” and “get rich” filters as “aggressive.”  However, I am a fan of online shopping, so I’m a bit more lenient on the special offers.  My sensor for racially insensitive material is off for now, since I haven’t been receiving such mail.  But it’s nice to know I have the controls at my fingertips if the situation changes.

As for the virus filtering, it can be either on or off, so of course I’ve got mine set on.  This quarantines threatening e-mail in a special message center so it never hits my e-mail server or personal in-box.

Postini quietly works in the background, collecting suspect mail in my personal message center.  Once or twice a day, I go in to see what has been trapped.  Most of it deserves to be there, making the filters very effective.  What pleases me, too, is that very little legitimate mail gets trapped there.  As the recent Network World anti-spam buyer’s guide points out, Postini has a very low false-positive rate.  If I do find legitimate mail there, I can release it to my in-box and add the sender to a white list if I choose.  Over time, my personal filters learn more about my preferences and become even more effective.

From an administrator’s standpoint, it’s nice that each user reviews his own filtered mail.  No one wants to be responsible for screening thousands upon thousands of the enterprise’s e-mails to check for false-positives.  That was my fate when my company used an anti-spam product from GFI – which, by the way, came in last in Network World’s buyer’s guide tests.  That product dumped all the company’s filtered e-mails into one box, and before long we had more than 100,000 messages in one place.  There was no way in the world we could search through there for the large amount of legitimate mail that was accidentally trapped.

I’m a happy camper with Postini looking out for me.  For more information about the merits of Postini’s Perimeter Manager, check out Network World’s buyer’s guide as well as the “Best” list.

Linda Musthaler is vice president of Currid & Company.  You can write to her at