ITS to Launch Anti-Spam
Service for University E-mail
By Information Technology Services
e-mail, known as junk e-mail or spam, has been an annoyance for some time. The
sheer volume of spam, 3040 percent of all e-mail by some estimates, and
the offensiveness of some spam content, has catapulted it into a substantive
problem that can no longer be ignored as a simple nuisance.
The universitys Information Technology Services has been blocking known
sources of spam for some time by subscribing to one of the most well-known and
well-respected "blacklists." However, spammers are quite resourceful
and the blacklist approach no longer provides adequate protection. As a result,
by the time spring semester starts, ITS will have stronger spam protection in
place for people who receive their e-mail through @hawaii.edu.
ITS is in the final stages of testing local implementation of SpamAssassin.
SpamAssassin, a freeware package, is the most common anti-spam approach deployed
in universities around the country. It not only incorporates the blacklist approach
currently in use at UH, but also employs fairly sophisticated heuristics to
"rate" each piece of incoming mail along a number of criteria that
correlate with the likelihood that a given item of e-mail is spam.
ITS will use SpamAssassin to rate all incoming e-mail to the @hawaii.edu e-mail
server. It will route messages identified as spam to a separate junk-mail folder
in each users mailbox. All other mail will be sent to a normal e-mail
In testing to date, with thousands of pieces of incoming e-mail, no legitimate
e-mail was mistakenly identified as spam. But each user will be able to check
their incoming junk-mail to be sure. Of course, no approach can be 100 percent
effective, especially since people have varying personal definitions of spam.
But the ITS implementation should eliminate a large percentage of spam for nearly
every @hawaii.edu e-mail customer with almost no risk of missing "real"
e-mail. Each individual will also have the choice to opt out of the anti-spam
service if they want to receive all incoming spam in their normal inbox.
This announcement is intended as an early notice that ITS is well along in planning
substantial improvement to help the UH community cope with the worldwide explosion
of spam. ITS will provide ample notice, with further details, on how the anti-spam
service will affect you before going live.