The importance of running your own spam filter (and other security software)

Security is a tradeoff, there is always a choice between security and usability, a good example for this is spam filtering, almost everyone gets an overwhelming amounts of e-mail spam – fortunately there are a wide range of anti-spam solutions to help you deal with this situation.

For your personal e-mail you probably don’t care too much about an occasional lost e-mail and deleting spam manually is just too annoying – so you’ll probably prefer an aggressive filtering system, at least as long as it doesn’t block any of your friends.

From a business perspective a lost e-mail message can cost you a sale – so you don’t want any real e-mails ever classified as spam, and it’s a good idea to store all the spam messages somewhere you can take a look every once in a while and make sure there aren’t any mis-classified non-spam messages in there.

Anti-spam system maintainers have a different point of view, sometimes, especially for free anti-spam systems, the maintainer considers spam to be one of the worst things that ever happened to man kind and it should be stopped at any cost, some of those systems will gladly blacklist entire countries and will reject anything even remotely suspect, some legitimate messages lost? Just a minor collateral damage in the war against spam.

And if you are an e-mail service provider it’s more important to not let the service be overrun by spam, and if some legitimate messages are lost – well, that may cost someone money, but that someone isn’t you.

The right spam filtering solution depends on your specific situation and is a tradeoff between haw much spam you are willing to receive and how many legitimate messages you are willing to lose – and you should make this tradeoff yourself, based on your needs and not let someone else make it for you.

posted @ Thursday, August 28, 2008 3:06 PM

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