Security

Spamfighter Exchange Module: Is it better than the built-in tools?

Jack Wallen takes a look at the add-on Spamfighter Exchange Module. Is it worth the extra cost, or are the built-in tools sufficient for spam reduction?

The only words that sufficiently describe how heinous spam is are not printable on a website such as TechRepublic. Suffice it to say, spam is the bane of any mail server administrator's existence. Anyone that has administered an Exchange server knows that there are plenty of solid built-in tools to take on the task of stopping spam. And they are good tools. But even good tools can not stop spam 100 percent. Some how that flood of dastardly mail is going to make it through your filters. That is when you need to consider getting additional help like that of the Spamfighter Exchange Module.

But with pre-loaded, and mostly-acceptable spam solutions in Exchange, is it worth dropping the extra coinage necessary for a tool like Spamfighter? Let's take a look and see.

Specs

  • OS Supported: MS Exchange 2000, 2003, 2007, 2010, and SBS
  • Cost: $25.00 Per mailbox

How it works

Spamfighter Exchange Module is a unique tool in that it relies on a community of spam reporters. When enough reporters (actual human beings) report a mail as spam, Spamfighter Exchange Module is automatically updated with the rule and the reported mail is blocked. Currently there are over seven million reporters world-wide, so spam is stopped quickly and easily.

The value of this is that a community of "reporters" are aggressively reporting spam on numerous levels (not just a heuristics set within a piece of software). When a new spam attack hits the real world, it only takes a set number of reporters to report it and that spam is instantly blocked. This means, under ideal situations, that a spam can be stopped within minutes of initial deploy.

Who's it for?

Spamfighter is for any Exchange admin who feels that the standard means of fighting spam are not enough. If you see spam frequently passing through the built-in filters, you owe it to yourself to at least give the 30-day trial a go. With Spamfighter Exchange Module on top of the standard MS spam-fighting Exchange tools, spam will reduce exponentially.

What problem does it solve?

In a word...spam. Although no one tool can stop spam 100 percent, the combination of the built-in Exchange spam tools and Spamfighter Exchange Module will get you to as close to that as you are going to get.

Standout features

  • Unique spam "definitions" created by world-wide network of users.
  • Small footprint.
  • Zero downtime due to Spamfighter.
  • Processing and blocking statistics.
  • Spam is automatically moved to spam folders for users.
  • Language filtering.
  • Maintenance free.
  • Multi-language support.

Click to enlarge.

The Spamfighter Exchange Module administrator interface is simple to use and allows you to quickly update all aspects of Spamfighter from one panel. From this same panel, you can view all statistics for the day, week, month, or per user mailbox.

What's wrong?

The only issue with Spamfighter Exchange Module is the associated cost. This isn't such a problem if you have fewer users. But larger companies might have a problem justifying the $25.00 per user license. As far as the software itself, SEM does an outstanding job of serving as a second layer of security against the constant battle against spam. SEM does a job in such a way that no other, standard, anti spam tool can touch.

Bottom line for business

If you are tired of spam making it past the standard filters, and you can afford the license cost, Spamfighter might be the ideal tool in the fight against spam. With millions of reporters helping to keep spam at a minimum, SEM is a constantly evolving tool that actually does bring the fight against spam as close to 100 percent as you will get. The end result...SEM is definitely a worthy addition to your Exchange server.

User recommendation

Have you deployed Spamfighter Exchange Module? If so, what was your experience? Did you see a drastic drop off in spam as you expected? Or did SEM disappoint? Share your thoughts with your fellow TechRepublic readers.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

4 comments
jandirk.verbeek
jandirk.verbeek

This is really a very good product. I have installed at multiple sites as well on our own exchange 2003 server. and together with the IMF it comes as close to 100% SPAM filtered is you may whish. we never see more than an incidental single SPAM mail in our inboxes. the pricing you mention is not quite right, prices drop when you buy multiple licenses and or multiple licensing years.

Justin James
Justin James

I don't see how this is worth a cent beyond the default filter. Why? Because the default filter works the same way. It gets a definition file every few hours. That definition file ("heuristics") is derived by compiling massive numbers of submissions. I would find it hard to believe that Spamfighter gets more submissions to base their heuristics on than Microsoft does. Furthermore, performing spam filtering at the Exchange level is brutal... you still have the problem where 95% (or more) of the bandwidth used for email is wasted on spam, not to mention storage issues. I highly recommend looking into a third party, hosted solution to pre-filter your mail. I have found SpamStopsHere to be *the best* answer to this problem, and has cut our incoming volume of email down by well over 95%. J.Ja

TexasJetter
TexasJetter

IMF is doing a pretty good job for us, but taking the SPAM filtering offsite, before it gets to your servers makes the best sense. It not only decreases your bandwidth, but saves your server capacity as well. I haven't used SpamStopsHere (http://greenviewdata.com/spamstopshere/), but it looks interesting. It doesn?t look like you would save much vs. the Spamfighter, but the benefits of decreased bandwidth and saving server capacity would certainly drive me in this direction.

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