The fight against Spam!

Spam is annoying for everyone and lot of time is spent for finding the legitimate emails. Spammers find new ways to circumvent spam filters and hence an intelligent system for blocking spam is the need of the hour. Fortunately, there is an excellent weapon in the war against spam, one which is very popular and free, called SpamAssassin.

This program, which is now under the umbrella of the Apache Software Foundation, sees spam as a problem that can only be identified by applying complex rules, each of which picks up on a small characteristics. Each rule adds a certain number of points to a message’s “score,” such that if enough rules match, the score becomes high enough to classify a message as spam. SpamAssassin inspects emails being delivered to your email account looking for signs that the email is spam. There are a number of actions that can be taken if the email is designated as spam, one of which is to alter the Subject line of the email to reflect it is spam, so that a rule can be defined in your email client to automatically delete the email or move it to a junk email folder.

SpamAssassin comes included by default with cPanel and easy to manage through the cPanel interface. SpamAssassin itself will not delete any emails. It’s only a filter which reads email in, and passes that same email out, modified in some way. If you want to delete emails, or redirect emails, you need to set up rules in your cPanel or email client to automatically filter out the email that SpamAssassin has labeled as spam.

To enable SpamAssassin, login to cPanel and click on the SpamAssassin icon. You can enable SpamAssassin here which will be applicable for all your email accounts. You can also configure the score for SpamAssassin here. However, it is recommended that you do not change the default score since the default score had been optimized to deliver the optimum results in filtering out spam. If you need to adjust the ‘Required Score’, you can manage it here. A score of 5-6 is fine without having any significant false positive issues. But to be safe, you can start at 8 and lower the score once you can confirm that you are not seeing any missed legitimate emails. The lower the SpamAssassin score, the tighter the spam controls will be.

SpamAssassin by default will add a tag like “**Spam**” to the spam email’s subject so that you can identify them easily when checking your inbox. However if you wish not to see them, you can enable the “Spam Box” feature through cPanel’s SpamAssassin configuration page, so that all those spam tagged emails will get delivered in a new folder called spam. Make sure that you check this mail box occasionally so that you won’t miss legitimate emails in between. You can also configure to delete spam tagged emails directly, but that would deprive you the chance to recover any legitimate emails missed.

If you use an email client like Outlook, you can create a filter in Outlook to forward emails with the Spam tag in the subject to a separate folder called Spam, etc. or you can even configure Outlook to delete those emails.

SpamAssassin also offers blacklist and whitelist settings that you can edit on the configuration page. If you need to whitelist a domain, you can do that here so that SpamAssassin will not filter ANY emails coming from that particular domain. Similarly you can blacklist a domain name so that ALL emails from that domain name will get filtered out completely.

SpamAssassin is far from the only spam-checking system on the Internet. But its open platform, ease of installation, and simple configuration — along with its flexibility and multifaceted defenses against spam — have made it very popular and has now become an inevitable tool in the fight against spam!