Sunday, October 14, 2007

Got Spam? Try Commtouch

When I came on board with my current company, we had a serious problem with spam that was only getting worse. My predecessor was trying to manage it with a Symantec product that was not designed to control spam but to keep viruses out. He was frantically trying to block subjects and addresses in a never-ending battle.

Some of the executives were so fed up with the onslaught of spam that they purchased and installed Cloudmark Safety Bar. That's not a cost effective solution for a small business. While it helped it did not block the spam before it got to them and they still had to see it before Cloudmark did its thing. I immediately researched the available products and services to find something better.

After much research I decided on Commtouch, which a lot of vendors I talk to still have not heard of even after several years. It seems to be a very well kept secret. I love the product and associated service. It does a wonderful job. Spam for the top email recipients dropped from hundreds of pieces of spam each day to maybe one or two. For most users it dropped from dozens to one or two a week. I think we pay less than $30 per user per year. It is a bargain.

It is also easy to manage and administer. The users can manage their own daily reports of what was blocked. They can either review the report or tell the system to stop sending it. Some want the report, others don't. It even has an Outlook plug-in but I recommend they don't use it because it makes the product perform just like Cloudmark. Why would they even want to see the spam? I say block it before it gets to your mailbox and cancel the daily report. The product is so accurate that I have literally had only one false positive in over two years.

The long-time employees respond that the product does miracles compared to the crap with which they used to have to put up. Unfortunately, the newer employees are spoiled. No anti-spam solution is 100% accurate, just like no anti-virus protection is perfect. We can go for weeks with no spam and then an outbreak will occur. The spammers hit upon some new method and it takes the blocking engine a few seconds to learn and block the mutation. In the meantime a few slip through. You would think a catastrophe had occurred the way some of the new employees respond. "Why, how could this happen? We've never seen this before!"

I feel like saying things like, "Get a life kids. Grow up. Find something else to complain about. Do your job and stop trying to do mine." But I would never say things like that. I just smile and email back, "I'm truly sorry you were inconvenienced by the single piece of spam that got through to your mailbox. Please accept my apologies for the integrity breach. I will inform the managers of the spam blocking system right away to make sure this never happens again."

At first they don't get it. Come on - spam happens. We get nearly a half million pieces of email a month. We have a 99.997% blocking rate. That's 50 pieces a day that still get through. Most of those go to the long-time employees but you are bound to eventually get one of them. Sheesh! I'm sure there are more expensive anti-spam solutions but I highly recommend Commtouch.

1 comment:

sleepydba said...

Excellent post. I've followed Commtouch for several years and extensively researched the company and its products. The company is quietly growing (just signed 9 new OEMs in the last quarter) and I look for bigger and greater things from them. Roger