The Campus Chronicle
Vol. XVIII, Issue 34
for the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts
May 23, 2003

 Page One Grain & Chaff Obituaries Letters to the Chronicle Archives Feedback Weekly Bulletin

 Page One Grain & Chaff Obituaries Letters to the Chronicle Archives Feedback Weekly Bulletin




OIT takes aim at spam

By Sarah R. Buchholz, Chronicle staff

U Mail account users will soon have the opportunity to have most of the spam filtered out of their inbox, according to David Powicki, a network analyst at the Office of Information Technologies. OIT is scheduled to implement a spam-reduction program in mid-June that will tag most spam coming into the campus e-mail server.

      Unsolicited e-mail, known as "spam," accounts for approximately 40 percent of e-mail received by UMail users, Powicki said.

      "It's a huge problem," he said. "We process on the order of 300,000 messages a day. We estimate that about 120,000 of these are spam.

     "The growth in spam that we've seen on campus over the last two and a half years is pretty much consistent with what people have been reporting on the Internet as a whole. Every day we answer complaints on the phone and via e-mail."

      On June 16, all UMail users, no matter which program they use to read e-mail, will have the opportunity to participate in a filtering system that tags probable spam and sends it to a separate folder.

      "Every message that comes in to the campus mail server will be compared against the known corpus of spam," Powicki said. "If it matches a known signature, then it will be tagged as probably spam. No messages are blocked; messages are only tagged."

      UMail users will be able to sign up at a designated webpage to have any mail tagged as spam routed to a folder where it will be stored for a specified length of time before automatically being expunged. Users will have several time-length choices, Powicki said.

     "It doesn't matter what program you use to read your UMail mail, whether it's Netscape Communicator or Outlook Express, this will work for you," he said. "You just sign up for this service and the filtering is taken care of on the server. This is only for OIT-provided e-mail."

      Powicki estimates that approximately 65 percent of spam will be identified by the program OIT selects.

      "This is the first layer of defense that we're deploying," he said. "Once we have the infrastructure in place, we'll be adding additional tagging software to identify spam."
Powicki said all UMail users will receive information about where to go on the web to sign up for the program.

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