SpamHero News

May 11

The best spam filter for MS Exchange?

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So, apparently Exchange users really love our service, as we’ve seen more and more Exchange users signing up, even before we had a way for Exchange users to import their email addresses from Active Directory. After getting lots of requests for a way to sync with Exchange, we quietly released a really slick LDAP User Sync tool last March.

LDAP User Sync Tool

For existing Exchange users that haven't run into the feature yet, it is located on the Tools menu.

Since LDAP is one of the protocols that Active Directory supports, Exchange users can now import their email addresses with ease.

In fact, you can even set it up so that it’s not just a one time import, but you can schedule it to automatically sync from Active Directory on a regular basis.  It also lets you configure a filter so that it only grabs the records that you want synchronized.

So, now SpamHero is not only the most effective spam filter on the market for MS Exchange, it is now the easiest to set up.  Ok, so I might be a little biased, but don’t take my word for it, give our free 30 day trial a whirl, and  I promise you’ll never look back.

Sep 10

SpamHero Turns One Today!

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Wow, that first year sure blew by quickly!   Today is the first anniversary since our launch, and it’s been an exciting and fun year for us at SpamHero.   Again, I look at what’s been reported in this blog and see very little of what should be here.  Somehow I need to find the time to report more on what’s happening here.   Since it would be impossible to write it all in this entry, I’ll just report on the years highlights.  I’ll report on what we’ve learned, some of our accomplishments and what’s coming next.

What we’ve learned…

I think the most important thing we learned this year is that there is a real market for what we have to offer.  SpamHero’s service is unique in that it provides a very high quality service at a very low price.  This model has proved to require very little advertising because most of our business comes by way of referral, which provides a steady stream of new business for us.   In fact, we’ve purposely shied away from advertising so that we can focus on quality of service and not take on more than we can handle.

What we’ve accomplished…

Perhaps 80% of what we’ve accomplished this year is completely behind the scenes work that really can’t easily be flaunted (although, I’ve tried).   It is work that won’t be appreciated until we are ready to open the flood gates and we can “effortlessly” scale to adding thousands of new customers daily.  The other 20% of the work is stuff that directly benefits our existing customers.  In the future, I’d like to see these percentages flip flop so that 80% of our resources are put towards adding value to our service and only 20% of our efforts are put towards building our infrastructure.  That being said, here are some of the things we’ve accomplished recently that directly benefit our existing customers:

Improved filtering.  Out of the gate, our service started at 98% accuracy.  We have added and continue to add deep filtering engines that re-examine all email that is not blocked by the main filter, which should push this accuracy percentage even higher.

Domain-wide Filtering Policies have been added.  These optional filters can be accessed and enabled by selecting the filtering policies option on the Settings tab.

ClamAV filtering has been added.  This hasn’t blocked much because our main spam filter already blocked most viruses already.  However, we figured it couldn’t hurt to add another layer.  Side note… there is a virus being sent by email that morphs every time it is sent which ClamAV does not catch.  To block this, we recommend enabling the “suspicious attachments” filter on the Domain-wide Filtering Policies page mentioned above.

Missed spam reporting has been improved.  Each domain has a unique address for which to report any spam that slips through the filter.   (See the message at the top of your dashboard when you first log in to your account.)   If the missed spam system is unable to match your report with the original email that came through the filter, a link will appear on your dashboard that takes you to a page that explains why.  In many cases it’s because spammers are sending directly to your server.  For those cases, we provide tips for securing your mail server.

Quicker payouts on our affiliate program.  The default setting on the affiliate program we licensed had payouts going out once an affiliate reaches a $100 balance.  Well, since we pay $30 every time you send us a customer, it took 4 sales to trigger a payout.  That’s the way most programs work out there, but we really don’t like that.  We lowered the minimum payout to $30 so that you get paid faster.  Of course, you still have to wait until the person you referred gets through their trial and becomes a paying customer.   Without that rule, it’d be too easy to sign up a million fake people and instantly make $30 million dollars.  If only it were that easy! 😉

A ton of other stuff.  Ok, that sounds like a cop out.   Because it is.  But really, we’re constantly making minor improvements and we’ve failed to report on them here.  We need to do better in that regard.  For those of you who have been with us from the beginning, you’ve seen new stuff pop-up and know what I’m talking about here.

What’s coming next…

We’ve got a list of ideas and suggestions a mile long.  At the moment, we’re wrapping up parts of our scalability project.  That project is pretty huge, but we’ve broken it down into chunks so that we can make progress in areas you can see more readily too.  As for things that directly benefit you the customer, we’ll soon be adding additional filters in the Domain-wide Filtering Policies page.  Once we add a few more options to that page, we think that most of our customers can get very close to 100% blockage of spam without any false positives.  There will be some customers that will not be able to take advantage of all the new filters because of their individual business needs, which is why they will be optional.   But, on our list of ideas are some very sophisticated “deep filtering” engines that are yet to be added that we feel will make us the most accurate spam filtering service on the planet… even for those that don’t use the optional filters.   We’ll get there.

Oh, and before you ask, we haven’t forgotten about the long awaited reseller program.  This still remains the most popular request that we get.  However, since launching a reseller program will be opening the flood gates, we’ve not been able to deliver on that yet.  We need to get that scalability project done first.  We know that a lot of you can hardly wait for us to get that done.   Believe me, we’re pretty excited for that day to come too!

And please, if there’s something we can add that would make our service even better for you, please let us know.  We look forward to serving your spam filtering needs for years to come (or until spammers stop sending their junk)!

Jun 10

Cloud Based Spam Filtering

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It’s been way too long since the last post.  All I can say is that we’ve been very, very busy.  Of course, in this (and any) economy, busy is good.  Ok, here’s what we’ve been up to…

We are pleased to announce that we have completed the migration of all customers over to our new distributed cloud based spam filtering environment.  We always knew that this was the direction we wanted to go in, even before our service was launched.   However, since we are used to dealing with very reliable data centers, the first release of our service wasn’t cloud based and simply used relay servers as an emergency fallback.  The original system looked like this:

The location 2 and 3 servers were only engaged when there was a problem with location 1, which ensured that no email was ever lost.  However, since these locations only hosted relay servers, in the event of trouble they had to wait for the primary server at location 1 to come back online, which could cause email delays.

Our new distributed cloud filtering system resolves this problem:

Distributed Cloud Spam Filtering SystemThis configuration splits up incoming email for each domain between two totally separate data centers, using round robin DNS MX records for the primary MX record (“MX 1”).  In the event that one of these locations has trouble, the “MX 2” and “MX 3” records point directly to the two locations so that sending mail servers will always be able to find an available server to send to.   Since this design eliminates the need of relay servers, this eliminates most any threat of email delays. Yay! 🙂

Oh, and this setup only requires 3 MX records, but, we’ve added support for a fourth.  The fourth record will be used when we expand the distributed cloud to include three locations.  For now, the “MX 4” record mirrors “MX 1” but will later point to the third location.   To take advantage of the third location when it comes online, you will need to update your MX records according to the instructions now displayed on the Settings -> mail host page when you login to the SpamHero back office.

If this upgrade doesn’t look like that big of a deal, then perhaps it’s because the sketch above is a little too simplified.   This was a big project for us, and it held up a lot of other projects and upgrades that we’ve been anxious to get to.   For example, one upgrade it had held up was a speed increase for those users with very large quarantines… if you are one of those users, you’ll notice a huge speed increase there.

With this distributed cloud project out of the way, you should see a steady flow of improvements and new features again.   I’ll try to make mention of some of the more notable ones here as they are rolled out.


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