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Moravian College Reduces Spam Email with Use of New Filtering System

Bethlehem, Pa., October 31, 2005—Moravian College has recently begun winning the battle against spam e-mail by implementing the filtering services from Tangent. In addition to reducing the amount of time students and staff must weed out unwanted messages, the new service’s anti-virus protection properties also prevents viruses from entering the college network. During a free seven-day trial of Tangent’s services, a random sample of Moravian e-mail server inboxes showed that an estimated 75-80% of e-mail was being blocked as spam as well as a significant reduction in e-mail messages containing viruses.

Moravian has been trying to combat spam for the last two years. It first built an e-mail proxy that used real-time block lists (RBLs), which allowed the College to block e-mail addresses of known spammers and computers associated with residential networks. “The problem with RBLs is that there are too many false positives,” explains Jim Beers, networking manager and network engineer for Moravian’s Center for Information Technology, “We were blocking 65% of all inbound messages because they were identified as spam.” Moravian’s Center for Information Technology (CIT) decided two e-mail proxies (computers that accept, process, and forward e-mail messages) employing three levels of anti-spam technology were needed instead of just one. This process of building the additional e-mail proxy and upgrading the original e-mail proxy was taking time away from other network tasks, so Moravian began to research other alternatives, including outsourcing.

Tangent uses Barracuda Networks anti-spam appliances. Barracuda Spam Filtering requires an e-mail message to pass through 11 layers of technology before reaching a customer’s inbox. The program looks for and blocks e-mails that are from IP addresses of known spammers, that contain more than a threshold amount of keywords associated with spam, that appear in an unrealistic amount of mailboxes, that do not meet the software’s authenticity checks, that have an address blocked by Moravian College or an individual user (likewise it allows e-mails from addresses specifically approved), and those that contain malicious file types. Barracuda Spam Filtering also uses anti-virus protection to weed out infected e-mails and rate controls to prevent service attacks. It does not process e-mail sent by Moravian College users.

“In addition to reducing the amount of spam in a user’s inbox, Tangent’s services warn the user about messages that may have objectionable content or messages that contain spam characteristics but may not be spam,” Beers continued. “Tangent’s service is also useful to Moravian network administrators, who can now focus on other tasks. Because less spam will be entering the Moravian e-mail proxy, such messages will not take up space on Moravian’s Internet connections, opening up bandwidth for legitimate uses. Tangent offers a greater level of redundancy than Moravian could provide on its own. Tangent maintains its own equipment at separate locations, each with multiple Internet connections. Also, having Tangent maintain the equipment means that Moravian does not need to perform hardware or software upgrades.”

“Since the service has gone into effect, we have received a small amount of spam, but not nearly the amount that we received in the past,” acknowledges Beers, “The goal in e-mail filtering is to cut down on the total amount of spam that you receive—you can never eliminate it.”

Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America's sixth-oldest college. Visit the web site at www.moravian.edu.