stop spam

The importance of offsite spam filtering

Posted on 8th January 2016 by Alex Innard

Introduction

Almost everybody who uses email knows about the issues of unsolicited bulk email, more often known as spam. On a personal level it is a nuisance. However, the bigger problem is the cost to business by way of; anti-spam solutions, support and time cost implications, and risk of data electronic infection.

The majority of small to medium sized companies still have their own email server located on-premises, thus the “norm” has always been to filter spam once it reached the internal server environment. For several reasons, many SME’s do not wish to adopt a fully cloud-hosted email environment, but will chose to maintain their own server(s) on-premise for the foreseeable future. With the ever increasing growth of spam rates across the globe, and more sophisticated spamming techniques, these traditional methods of spam reduction are now not fit for purpose. However, a better solution is available for those who do not wish to fully adopt cloud hosted email.

Cloud based anti-spam

This is a system whereby your incoming email flow is filtered by a third party before it even arrives at your own server. The third party utilise several different anti-virus and anti-spam engines to clear away as much of the unsolicited and dangerous email as possible, leaving you with an onward flow of just legitimate data. Imagine your postman filtering all of your normal letterbox junk at the sorting depot before delivering your legitimate post through your letterbox each day, and you’re got the same thing but in electronic format!

The benefits

Not getting email spam is always a huge benefit. Most providers do a great job of significantly reducing spam and eliminating email distributed viruses.

Configuring cloud based anti-spam services is generally very quick and easy. For a single email server company, migration to cloud based anti-spam can take as little as an hour with no service interruption required.

Cloud based anti-spam services eliminate the need for the company email server to be fully exposed to the outside world. Providing you allow email traffic from the cloud filtering servers to your own, every other server on the globe can be disallowed from connecting to your server to relay email messages, reducing the risk of being attacked by unscrupulous individuals or used as a spam-robot.

Offsite filtering can drastically reduce the processing load on your own email server. Email filtering can account for up to 95% of the load on a typical email server alone. If this is being handled elsewhere, your server will have plenty more resources to handle other tasks and process just the legitimate email. This can also reduce cost of replacement servers as expensive hardware is not needed if the processing load is low.

Similarly to server load, the same can be considered for your internet connection load. In most small to medium business, up to 90% of a day’s email flow can comprise spam or viruses. Without cloud based anti-spam, your server has to download all of the rubbish before it can process it, therefore consuming high amounts of bandwidth and slowing down the rest of the business online activities. Offsite filtering can help to reduce your internet usage considerably.

The final benefit I’d like to mention is email flow continuity. Most cloud based anti-spam providers will hold on to, or queue your email in the event that their servers cannot forward it on to your servers. This could be for a number of reasons such as; your internet connection is faulty, your own email server is experiencing technical difficulty or you are moving to different premises. Once your server can be “seen” again by the offsite filtering servers, your legitimate email flow is then re-started and will flow into your own email server as normal. You will save the embarrassment and inconvenience of not having received those important emails.

Alex Innard
Alex is a third line IT engineer and works at Apograph Ltd which owns Computer Support Northampton. He has extensive experience in the IT industry and believes in doing things properly.
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