Receiving twice as many votes as the closest contender, SpamAssassin
took top honors in the Anti-Spam category of Datamation’s Product of the
Year 2005 Awards.
SpamAssassin, an open source spam filter, easily outdistanced its
competitors in the finalist round of the annual reader-based contest.
Webroot Software, Inc.’s SpySweeper Enterprise had a strong showing as
the runner up. Other finalists included Cloudmark, Inc.’s Cloudmark
Immunity; NetIQ Corp.’s NetIQ MailMarshal SMTP; MessageLabs Ltd.’s
MessageLabs Anti-Spam, and Sophos Inc.’s Sophos PureMessage.
”[SpamAssassin] doesn’t just save us money. It makes us money,” says
Jeremy Howard, CEO of FastMail.FM, an Australia-based email provider with
more than half a million customers. ”We know from direct feedback that
customers are upgrading their accounts because of our SpamAssassin
SpamAssassin is under the umbrella of the Apache Software Foundation, a
non-profit group that provides organization, along with legal and
financial support for many open source projects. SpamAssassin is used by
corporate, academic and home users as a stand-alone spam filter, but it
also is integrated into other products, such as appliances and email
The winner in the Anti-Spam category uses techniques such as blacklist
checking, content analysis, header analysis, and collaborate
spam-tracking database checking to weed out spam.
Anti-spam products are increasingly important to the enterprise as
unsolicited bulk email continues to hammer corporate inboxes, mail
servers and IT workers. MessageLabs, an anti-virus and anti-spam company,
reported last year that spam now accounts for nine out of every 10 emails
in the United States. In 2003, spam made up 55 percent of all U.S. email,
but it easily surpassed the 80 percent mark last year.
And that deluge of spam is taking a toll.
Industry analysts largely agree that spam not only distracts workers and
wastes productivity, but it also drives IT managers to use their
already-tightened budget money on extra mail servers and personnel whose
only job is to deal with the flood of unwanted email.
”As an email provider, it’s our job to make sure that our customers get
all the email they want, but only the email they want,” says Howard, who
started using SpamAssassin three years ago. ”Simple message blocking at
our mail server is not an option, since it could block some messages that
our customers wanted to receive, so we had to find a solution that let
customers ‘choose’ what they wanted to block.”
Howard explains that SpamAssassin provides a statistical score, which
customers use to make decisions about which messages should be discarded,
which ones should be filed away and which ones to keep. ”Customers
frequently tell us how happy they are now that their inboxes contain less
spam, without throwing away any of the messages that they want to
receive,” he adds.
Daniel Quinlan, vice president of Apache SpamAssassin, says their product
stands out because it’s a wide-spectrum solution.
”It uses a wide variety of local and network tests to identify spam,”
says Quinlan. ”It makes it hard for spammers to identify any one single
thing they can change in their email to get around the filter… Plus,
it’s free software, so obviously that’s attractive.”