Spam Scanning (#2612)
What is Spam?
Spam involves sending nearly identical messages to thousands (or millions) of recipients. Perpetrators of such spam ("spammers") often harvest addresses of prospective recipients from web pages, obtain them from databases, or simply guess them by using common names and domains. By definition, spam occurs without the permission of the recipients.
Most servers ban spam senders and so instead, spam is wrongfully sent by relaying e-mail.
Sending e-mail is a 2-step process as follows:
The normal path for e-mail to VCU is:
How spam traffickers sneak their spam mail through is:
What does VCU do about Spam?
VCU uses specially-built anti-spam/anti-virus appliances from IronPort Systems, also used by some of the largest e-mail systems in the world. These appliances take a multi-level approach to stopping spam and viruses. First, IronPort uses information gathered from 100,000 networks world-wide to assess the reputation of systems sending e-mail and determine whether these systems send large amounts of spam. VCU uses this reputation score to block known spammers and slow the receipt of e-mail from suspected spammers, which on a typical day makes up 90% of the e-mail sent to VCU. Second, IronPort scans messages using two different anti-spam programs - its own and one from Brightmail (another leading anti-spam vendor). These scans filter another 5% to 8% of the e-mail sent to VCU. E-mail that is identified as spam by these programs is placed in "quarantine" for one week and then deleted. Lastly, IronPort scans messages for viruses using the Sophos anti-virus program. E-mail containing a virus is discarded. The remaining messages (2% to 5%) that pass all these scans are delivered to VCU mailboxes.
All of this scanning filters out most of the spam, but spammers are constantly changing their attacks so inevitably some of it gets into your mailbox.
What not to do when you are spammed ...
Never respond to unsolicited e-mail/spam. To the individuals who send spam, one "hit" among thousands of mailings is enough to justify the practice.
Never respond to the spam e-mail's instructions to reply with the word "remove." This is a ploy to get you to react to the e-mail -- it alerts the sender that a human is at your address, which greatly increases its value. If you reply, your address may be placed on more lists resulting in more spam.
Never sign up with sites that promise to remove your name from spam lists. Although some of these sites may be legitimate, more often than not, they are address collectors. The first kind of site is ignored (or exploited) by the spammers, the second is owned by them -- in both cases your address is recorded and valued more highly because you have just identified it as read by a human.
What to do when you've been spammed ...
Once you've been "spammed" by someone you don't know, do not reply to the sender or follow any "removal instructions" which might be included. Unfortunately, the best response now is to simply delete the message.
You can also apply spam filters to your e-mail from within your e-mail client.