Controlling Spam: Heres What One Agency Did
At one time, talk about spam referred to condensed meat in a can. Today, that term takes on a whole different meaning for e-mail users who are bombarded each day with volumes of unsolicited advertisements we know as spam.
The issue simply is not limited to the annoyance of having to delete unwanted e-mails, but it also has an effect on employee productivity and software equipment, say information technology executives.
One insurance brokerage firm, based in West Point, Ga., watched the effect of unwanted spam on its own system and decided it was time to do something about it. The firm chose a product from a software vendor that had proven itself to the firm already.
D. Gaines Lanier, CEO and president of J. Smith Lanier & Co., an independent insurance brokerage firm of more than 400 employees, says that about a year and a-half ago the firm saw a problem that needed resolution.
“I receive and delete e-mails every day and I realized how much junk e-mail was coming across my personal computer,” Lanier remembers. “I realized how much was getting to me and feared how much was getting to others in the company that we had no idea about. We realized we had to get some type of control around just where all this junk e-mail was coming from.”
The firms written policy on e-mail was not sufficient to control the inflow, he says, and it decided that another solution needed to be found to control the situation.
Michael Millan, the firms director of information technology at the time, and now an independent consultant headquartered in Auburn, Ala., says the firm reviewed three software products meant to filter out unwanted e-mail. The firm chose Scotts Valley, Calif.-based software developer SurfControl.
Millan explains that Lanier chose the software for several reasons. The firm already had an idea of what the software vendor was capable of doing. Three years before, because of Internet bandwidth problems, the firm decided to get a Web-filtering system to bar entry to some Internet sites and improve access to the Web.
He says the software “did more than we thought it would.” The Web filter increased bandwidth by 15% and was “very easy to set up and configure.”
Later, when senior management finally “became very irritated” with the spam, the firm looked at three different products, Millan says, including SurfControls.
“We were amazed,” Millan says of the companys reaction when the software was installed.
In the first couple of days of use, the filter caught more than 2,000 pieces of e-mail coming through the central mail server, 90% of which was spam. The new software required a little tweaking, largely on the financial services side because of the information those e-mails asked for, but it proved largely successful.
He says one of the larger problems was the adult content messages that were coming through, and the filter completely eliminated them on the first day of use.
“We went from a couple hundred messages a day that were going through and upsetting some people, to zero,” says Millan.