Most Spam is Blocked

In 2008, UCI email readers were spared almost one billion spam messages which were blocked by the NACS spam-mitigation system prior to delivery.  This represents more than 21,000 messages for each faculty, staff, and student at UCI last year.

Of the messages accepted for delivery, 12 million were labeled as potentially spam so that people could quarantine them and inspect them at their convenience.  Here is a summary of the spam and mail delivery statistics for 2008:

Total Messages Blocked: 869,295,065
Total Messages Accepted: 97,484,167
Total Messages Accepted marked as spam: 11,786,134

The chart shows the number of spam messagess blocked each day in 2008 (in red) and the number of messages accepted for delivery (in blue.)  You can find more information on spam and spam filtering on line.

Higher Performance Email Service

Email

Email

During the last academic year, NACS made a number of enhancements to the central campus email service.

The most important changes were implemented to improve performance and responsiveness of the email system, including the Webmail interface.

One of those changes was the format in which email was stored (the “mix mailbox format” from the University of Washington) which allows much faster response with large inboxes.  The email servers are connected to disk storage in a new way, improving access speeds.  We’ve also installed new versions of the email server software (the program that supports POP and IMAP), which includes features that improve server performance.

Other enhancements include:

Disk quotas have been expanded to 1Gb for faculty and 500Mb for staff, and larger quotas are on the horizon.

The maximum size of an email message has been expanded from 20 million to 30 million bytes.  Practically, this means you can send larger attachments in a message.  However, large attachments affect email server performance, and may not be acceptable at the destination server.  Therefore, it is prudent to be aware of your attachment size, and you should consider alternatives for file sharing such as sending a link to your document.

In addition to these visible changes, NACS maintains email performance in other ways, such as applying security patches, and refining the rules that identify spam.

Protecting UCI from Spam

Unsolicited, unwelcome, and sometimes offensive commercial email — “spam” — continues to plague the world’s electronic mail users. Here at UCI, NACS began regularly filtering inbound electronic mail nearly two years ago in an effort to catch and label spam, rendering it easily identifiable by end users. NACS runs the SpamAssassin software on the campus electronic mail gateways (also known as Mail Transfer Agents, or MTAs), as well as on the Enterprise Services servers often referred to as “ea” and “e4e”.

SpamAssassin uses a variety of techniques to determine if a message is spam, and if it is, the software adds “headers” to the message labeling it as such. Most electronic mail programs, such as Eudora, Outlook, and Netscape, are capable of reading and processing these special headers. You must configure your mail software to take advantage of this feature.

NACS remains dedicated to reducing the amount of spam received by our users, and we continue to research new ideas and techniques for doing so.

If you are uncertain as to whether or not your electronic mail program can be configured to make use of the SpamAssassin headers, contact your local computing support coordinator or the NACS Response Center.

More information about the NACS spam tagging service can be found on the web at http://www.nacs.uci.edu/email/spam/index.html, including how to configure Eudora, Netscape, Outlook XP, Mail for MacOS X, Microsoft Entourage X, and Procmail to filter-out spam which has been identified the the service.