How will spam filters benefit my business?

August 17, 2020

Before we can answer this question, we must first understand why spam emails are bad for businesses in the first place. Spam is unsolicited or unwanted electronic messaging (usually in the form of email advertisements) that is blasted to lots of people. Receiving one out of a hundred isn’t that bad, but imagine being deluged by countless useless emails every day.

Sifting through all of that junk just to find work-related emails drains your energy and wastes time. In fact, all it takes for a 100-strong business to lose a worker to idleness is for everyone to spend an average of just 4.8 minutes every day dealing with spam. (4.8 minutes x 100 employees = 1 working day of 1 employee)

Beyond lost productivity, more dangerous spam comes in the form of phishing attempts and the dissemination of malware such as ransomware.

Learn more about dangerous emails:

In short, the less spam you encounter, the better off your business will be. An easy and inexpensive way to avoid spam is to use spam filters beyond the ones that already come with your email service.

Three categories of spam filters

Since email is a primary communication medium for organizations, business email accounts send and receive emails in far higher volumes than personal ones. The higher capacity requirement led to the development of spam filters made especially for businesses. These filters are categorized as hardware spam filters, software spam filters, and cloud-based spam filters.

Hardware spam filters
Hardware spam filters are dedicated appliances that are housed on-site and are placed in between the company’s firewall and mail server to act as a gateway for all email traffic. Appliances vary by fixed capacity and must be chosen according to the number of active email users and domains a business has. Among the different spam filter types, hardware spam filters offer the least flexibility.

Software spam filters
These are programs installed on existing machines, virtually turning these into hardware spam filters in almost every way. However, if the machine is modifiable, then it can have far more flexibility when it comes to capacity.

Cloud-based spam filters
Instead of owning and managing your spam filtering solution yourself, you can have a cloud-based service provider take care of the filtering for you. It’s essentially an outsourcing arrangement that lets you:

  • Save on hardware and software costs
  • Avoid hardware maintenance, repairs, and eventual obsolescence
  • Skip the complex setup and continual software updates and patches

An easy and inexpensive way to avoid spam is to use spam filters beyond the ones that already come with your email service.

How do spam filters protect your business?

Each filter category has a combination of controls that grant it the ability to distinguish and separate spam from legitimate emails, and also to block emails that contain known malware. These controls are:

Sender policy framework (SPF)
When you send an email, that email travels from your IP address to an email server, which then transmits the message on behalf of the domain you used (i.e., the part of your email address). All of this happens behind the scenes, and spoofers can simply use another email server to send emails that appear to come from you (i.e., they can enter your email address in the “From” field).

With an SPF, however, IT admins build a list of email servers that they authorize to send emails for the company’s domain. This framework effectively blocks emails from spoofers who use unauthorized servers.

Real-time blacklists
These are continually updated lists of domains and IP addresses that are known to have been used to send spam. Emails from these points of origin are not delivered to their intended inboxes.

Greylisting is the process of rejecting suspicious emails and requesting email servers to send the rejected messages again. Since spammers’ mail servers are often dedicated to sending countless spam emails, they take much longer to process the greylister’s requests than regular servers do. This delay helps to confirm suspected emails as spam.

Message content analysis
This checks the headers and body of a message for common telltale signs of spam, such as frequent misspellings and images with very poor quality. The message is thus given a score that determines the corresponding action a spam filter will take on it. Specifically, the spam filter can deliver, greylist, quarantine, or delete the message.

Malware scanning
A spam filter can use one or many antivirus programs to check if email attachments contain known malware.

SURBL/URIBL filtering
This analyzes the hyperlinks in an email to see if these lead to malicious sites or have been utilized for spamming campaigns before.

AI-powered profiling
This is a form of control that’s exclusively employed by advanced cloud-based email security service providers like [company_short]. It uses AI to analyze the attributes of your employees’ communications, such as who they email frequently and which devices they use to send messages, to create profiles of individuals as well as trusted relationships.

Email communications are verified against these profiles to identify genuine emails from advanced phishing and business email compromise attacks that would likely be missed by less sophisticated filters.

Among the three filter categories, cloud-based spam filters are by far the most effective and cost-efficient —- and [company_short] is among the most advanced cloud-based email security providers among them all.

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