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SpamAssassin 3.0 Released 335

davemabe writes "At long last, SpamAssassin 3.0.0 has been released. I've been using the release candidates for a month or so, and the results have been far improved over previous versions. Its use of SURBL along with Bayes auto learning make it seem like this solution is the one to beat. It looks like they've introduced a new logo as well. Snazzy!"
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SpamAssassin 3.0 Released

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  • SURBL (Score:5, Informative)

    by alatesystems ( 51331 ) <chris AT chrisbenard DOT net> on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @09:29AM (#10317875) Homepage Journal
    For those not in the know, SURBL is really cool. It actually lets you scan the message(well, SA does that) and then look for urls that it links to. It compares this to a realtime BL of other people getting spam like you and if it is a known spam TARGET url then it blocks the message based on that.

    It makes it really hard for them unless they just register countless domains.

    Excellent technology, and I will be upgrading to the newest stable.

    • Re:SURBL (Score:2, Interesting)

      by virtualone ( 768392 )
      this sounds nice, but what if the url is put together with javascript?
    • by NKJensen ( 51126 ) <> on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @09:46AM (#10317991) Homepage
      From the SURBL site: "parse URIs in message bodies, extract their domains, and check those against a SURBL...."

      I would rather extract the domain, look up the IP, and check the IP.

      That way the server will have to move to a new IP - not just get a new bogus domain name.

      Yes, I know that servers many host many domains:

      This will only increase pressure on the spamheaven server admins to get rid of the people who use spam to spamvertize their sites.
      • I would hope that it would use IPs also. Our site is currently receiving mortgage spam that slips past our current amavisd-new + spamassasin setup, as well as client-side Apple baysean filtering. But one thing is consistent between all of em -- the hostnames in the single link within each of the mails resolve to the same IP address.

        So, would either SA 3.0 take care of this naturally, or allow me to easily write a plugin to resolve the addresses in links and apply my own IP address based blacklist?
      • by platipusrc ( 595850 ) <> on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @10:22AM (#10318253) Homepage
        One of the problems with using IPs is the massive amount of Virtual Hosting being used. Say I'm a 1&1 customer, and there are 400 other domains going to the same IP as one of my domains, and I send you an email with a link to something on my site, but one spammer has managed to get an account with 1&1 for now. If they're on the same box as me, you just blacklisted 399 other domains that shouldn't have been blacklisted.
        • by AKnightCowboy ( 608632 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @10:41AM (#10318434)
          If they're on the same box as me, you just blacklisted 399 other domains that shouldn't have been blacklisted.

          Extreme spamfighters don't care though. You're guilty by association in their eyes and deserve to feel the same wrath that the spammers do. It's so that you'll bitch to your provider and in turn your provider will shut down the spam site because all their other customers are complaining vs. some random guys on the Internet complaining they're receiving that URL in spam.

          • Extreme spamfighters don't care though.

            May fvorite was a Washington DC news company that had implemented extreme spamfighting measures. Since our outgoing mail server doesn't receive incoming mail, its not in the MX records. This guy was bouncing our mail because of that. God hopes that the next Deep throught doesn't try to contact his news organization...

        • If the admins are too slow to take down the spamvertized site and report back to the reporter, yes, and only then.

          Which is fine with me.
        • by pqdave ( 470411 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @12:29PM (#10319580)
          SpamAssasin is for email, and won't affect anyone trying to browse to your site. At worst, a properly-configured SpamAssasin would see a mention of your URL in an email, resolve it to the same IP as a spammer, and give it a few more points towards the spam threshhold. SpamAssasin (at least as used by my mail admin) scores messages based on various factors rather than giving pass/fail tests, so a suspicious URL in an otherwise non-spammy message wouldn't necessarily send it over the spam threshold.
        • by ChaosDiscord ( 4913 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @02:10PM (#10320751) Homepage Journal
          If they're on the same box as me, you just blacklisted 399 other domains that shouldn't have been blacklisted.

          You're not blacklisting; you're marking as "more likely spam". In practice the damage will be minimal. First, legit email from the other 399 domains will in general be non-spam-like. The positive hit on the IP address won't be enough to push them over the edge. The penalties for being found in the SURBL at the moment are all relatively small, all less than 1 (5 points are needed in the default configuration to mark a message as spam). The only exception is data from the Spam Cop database, which is fairly small and more carefully vetted. If they broaden from hostnames to IPs, you might have to tweak the scores down, but that's it. Second, what's the realistic chance of your getting email containing a URL linking to that IP? There are millions of web sites. The Big Important Web Sites aren't on the sort of massive shared server you describe. The chances that you'll get an email mentioning one of those smaller sites is pretty small. There is a risk, but it's small enought that I won't lose any sleep over it.

      • by Kainaw ( 676073 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @10:47AM (#10318501) Homepage Journal
        I would rather extract the domain, look up the IP, and check the IP.

        I wanted that a long time ago. At the time, I couldn't find a program written by anyone else, so I wrote my own. It works well for me and anyone who wants the script is free to use it. It is at my homepage [].
      • And so what happens if I decide to send out spam that links to URL It looks up the IP address, and blocks it. Then everything that you ever send will be blacklisted. Go get a new host.

        Your suggested technique would be exploited by script kiddies everywhere (who already have access to large zombie networks) to basically ban someone from the internet. What a fantastic idea.
      • by pjrc ( 134994 ) <> on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @12:53PM (#10319843) Homepage Journal
        I would rather extract the domain, look up the IP, and check the IP.

        That won't help against "bulletproof hosting", commonly used by spammers, where a nameserver in a country like Russia or Poland resolves the name to one of thousands of zombie machines hosting the site.

        The SURBL approach does.

        Yes, I know that servers many host many domains: ... This will only increase pressure on the spamheaven server admins to get rid of the people who use spam to spamvertize their sites.

        Spammers don't use $10/month shared virtual hosting for their websites.

    • Re:SURBL (Score:3, Funny)

      by slaad ( 589282 )
      Ahh, the same principal as MT Blacklist []. Good stuff, works half way descent and you're pretty much sure to not get a false possitive, unless...

      From: Mom
      Hi, honey, I just wanted to see how you were doing. We're doing great around here. Write back soon. I love you.

      Do you yahoo? Enlarge your penis [] today!

      You never know I guess...
    • by numbski ( 515011 ) * <(ten.revliskh) (ta) (iksbmun)> on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @09:55AM (#10318053) Homepage Journal
      I'm building the latest on all of my clients' mail exchangers and our primary boxen. ;)

      Here's the command to install/upgrade 3.0 via CPAN:

      # perl -MCPAN -e shell;
      cpan > install Mail::SpamAssassin

      (many lines, type in the administrator's e-mail address, say no to network tests)



      Very difficult stuff. :) Keep up the good work.

      Oh! Some link whoring as well:

      SpamAssassin Milter for Sendmail [] - Filters everyone without procmail

      SpamAssassin Milter Quarantine [] - Quarantines spam messages and sends summaries in digest for 1 or more times daily rather than simply delivering to the end user.
    • Re:SURBL (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hey ( 83763 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @10:02AM (#10318105) Journal
      I suppose this will driver spam-advertizers to obviscate their URLs in the spam mails. Eg use javaScript to build the URL so the real URL can't be detected -- like we do with our mail addresses on webpages so they won't be harvested by spammers!
      • Re:SURBL (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ChaosDiscord ( 4913 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @02:03PM (#10320618) Homepage Journal
        I suppose this will driver spam-advertizers to obviscate their URLs in the spam mails. Eg use javaScript to build the URL so the real URL can't be detected...

        Which is fine. There are two defenses, both of which work now: 1. Javascript in a message is a big spam flag; legit mail almost never uses it. SpamAssassin and most other hybrid systems assign mail a score, more points means more likely to be spam. HTML typically adds a small penalty, javascript adds a bit penalty. Bayesian systems that see the Javascript will quickly learn to penalize any javascript tags. 2. The filter can filter based on what the user sees, not the raw feed. SpamAssassin already does this to catch people using HTML to try and break up words.

        All in all, this isn't worrying to me at all.

  • by conner_bw ( 120497 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @09:29AM (#10317878) Journal
    For those of us too busy (or lazy) to install out own versions of SpamAssassin, there are always commercial products [] with SpamAssassin built in. I use Spam Interceptor [] listed in the previously linked SA wiki page. They, however, haven't upgraded to version 3 yet...

    Anyone know of a service using 3.0.0 right now? Does it require more resources than before? I know si20 was, at one time, looking for alternatives because SA can be a resource hog at times. Has this been improved in the new version?
    • by xcomputer_man ( 513295 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @09:40AM (#10317948) Homepage
      I've been using RC1 for over a month now, and I'll tell you confidently that

      -- Performance is MUCH better than it used to be. It scans messages much faster than I've ever seen SA 2.x do, and doesn't hog my server's resources anymore.

      -- THIS THING ROCKS. For almost two weeks after I installed it I kept instinctively sending myself test emails to make sure I hadn't broken my mail system, because my volume of incoming mail had reduced so drastically. I was used to getting at least a new spam every 2 minutes. After installing SA 3.0 I got one false negative in a 72 hour period. It is *that* good. To date I still have not recorded a single false positive. I really had to convince myself that this thing was real.

      This spamfilter rocks. I'd award it product of the year if I could.
      • by eddy ( 18759 )

        [...] and doesn't hog my server's resources anymore.

        Got any numbers on memory use? I would love to run SA on my home server, but it has "only" got 80MB of RAM. I tried running 2.x, but it seriously brought the system to its knees (swapping)

        I must say, Python might be a nice language and all, but as it's making inroads everywhere it's also wrecking havoc on ones ability to convert older hardware into a competent server. YMMV (mailman + bittorrent + (apache + exim + samba) and you're pretty much down to

        • by Tim Macinta ( 1052 ) <> on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @11:08AM (#10318720) Homepage
          I must say, Python might be a nice language and all, but as it's making inroads everywhere it's also wrecking havoc on ones ability to convert older hardware into a competent server.
          Spamassassin is actually written in Perl, not Python. I'm not saying your point about certain languages making it difficult to maintain older machines isn't valid, I'm just clarifying what Spamassassin uses.
    • does anyone know of any GPL win32 anti-spam utilities capable of working with exchange?
  • Plugin Architecture (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CleverFox ( 85783 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @09:32AM (#10317894)
    The real news here is not Bayes filtering or SURBL, but the totally rebuilt plug-in architecture of SA 3.0. Plug-ins for the 2.x version were quite a bit harder to write.

    Version 3.0 will result in a proliferation of good third party plug-ins that are going to put SA into more direct competition with some of the commercial vendors out there.
  • by Build6 ( 164888 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @09:33AM (#10317905)
    You know, *assassins* are the type to take out single, lone, "high value" targets, right?

    Sneaking into fortresses/castles, creeping up and then offing the bad guy, or else maybe using some nice long-distance sniper rifle to take out the bad guy, or maybe choice application of poisons at the right bottle of wine, etc.

    This is not appropriate for *spam*, where we're talking about waves upon waves upon unending waves in what we would call a "target rich environment". Assassination? No, more like machine-gunning, or artillery, or, I dunno, nukes.

    Assassination would take too long.

  • anto-spam (Score:4, Informative)

    by Outsider_99 ( 761534 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @09:35AM (#10317915)
    Ive been playing with DSPAM [] which seems very good. They claim a 99.991% accuracy. Apparently this is 10 times more accurate then a human. But Ive heard that most anti-spam solutions are very good.
    • Re:anto-spam (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Skuto ( 171945 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @09:40AM (#10317958) Homepage
      There was a good scientific test linked on slashdot a while ago, comparing spamfilters and including DSPAM and SpamAssassin.

      Contrary to DSPAM author's claims, both it and and CRM-114 (another package which likes to self-hype) performed quite a bit worse than SpamAssassin.

      Then again, I've heard people being happy with DSPAM that were not happy with SA.

      Guess it depends on the mailfeed you get.
    • They claim a 99.991% accuracy. Apparently this is 10 times more accurate then a human.

      Isn't a human 100% accurate by definition?
      "I could have sworn I wanted to read that email, but I guess I was wrong."
    • Re:anto-spam (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MartinB ( 51897 )

      SpamAssassin 2.x with well trained (>1 year of spam @ 100+ spams/day) Bayes:
      ~5% false negative (~95% spam filtering accuracy, 1 in 20 spams let through).

      DSPAM with large training corpus (~10k spams from a honeypot) plus 6 weeks of real mail at same spam rate:
      0.45% false negative (99.55% spam filtering accuracy, 1 in 222 spams let through).

      I now publicise an inoculation honeypot address: for spammers to harvest, which adds super-strength training.

      I'm very happy with my mov []

  • Release notes? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by degradas ( 453730 )
    Anybody have a link to the changes compared to the last stable version?
  • by Grumpy Troll ( 790026 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @09:37AM (#10317929)

    This word has triggered the filter of the buzzword use control, as a level 5 'useless/idiotic buzzword'. This is the last time we would like to have to alert, severe sanctions will prevail on next use of such a buzzword.

    Thank you for your coordination,

    the Buzzword Police.

  • Purple Bayes... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jav1231 ( 539129 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @09:37AM (#10317931)
    I use SA and like it. I only get about 75% reduction because SA-Learn doesn't seem to work very well. I've been told it takes a lot of mail to get it to learn. Though I would think, "If you see this again kill it" wouldn't take but once. hehe
    • I only get about 75% reduction because SA-Learn doesn't seem to work very well.

      Try CRM114 [] My SA results weren't very good either, despite training it with a year's worth of both spam and non-spam, and two month of continuous re-training. CRM114 was easier to train even though its author recommends that you do NOT train it with your spam cache. Its accuracy was only about 50% at first, but within two weeks it was over 90. After about three months, I'd guess its accuracy is around 98% - not quite the 99.94
    • I think it depends on how you call it - I could never get sa-learn data to have any effect using spamc/spamd, but just piping to /usr/bin/spamassassin in my procmailrc seemed to work. YMMV.
    • It actually takes a certain amount of mail before the bayes even turns on. It doesn't want to turn itself on and then start scoring messages with a limited amount of intelligence.

      If you want, I have put one of my user's spambox [] into a tgz if you want to untarball it and then run

      sa-learn --mbox < Spam


      • good idea - here's 2 years' worth of mid-scored spam for your bayes-training pleasure (really high scores get bounced by my milter)

        anyone else got spam to share?

        ps: remember to sa-learn YOUR OWN non-spam messages to balance this...
    • Also, I forgot to mention this SA wiki [].

      According to it, "The bayesian classifier can only score new messages if it already has 200 known spams and 200 known hams."

      Also, my code was wrong. It should be
      sa-learn --showdots --mbox --spam Spam
  • A spam arms race? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zaxios ( 776027 ) <> on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @09:39AM (#10317943) Journal
    And will SpamAssassin's effectiveness erode as spammers adopt smarter methods in response? Escalation is not a long-term solution to any arms race or conflict. We can continue to fight spam, but the only way we will decisively defeat it is by acknowledging it as a social problem and legislating against it, with an common sense certainty and determination no one in Western goverments seems to be providing.
    • Re:A spam arms race? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by joshtimmons ( 241649 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @09:46AM (#10317993) Homepage

      Well, I'm using spamassassin on my server (and have been for the past 2 years). Unfiltered, I get around 200 spam per day. 1 or 2 get through.

      It's been that way since the day I installed it. and it doesn't appear that the spammers are using any substantially "smarter methods"

      Maybe it really is easier to write a filter than it is to write filter-proof spam.

    • Email was designed to trust everyone, making it hard to reject email from people you don't want it from. We must get everyone to move to a better architecture which can force sender authentication if desired by the receiver. My own personal preference would be to have the sending MTA sign outgoing mails with a public key. Any scheme be much easier than getting 100% of governments to outlaw spam, which is what is needed to be effective. Legislation is not the answer to a technical problem.
    • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @10:05AM (#10318127)
      The only way to stop drugs is to realize that it is a social problem and legislate against it. Use enforcement to stop drugs in their tracks.
      • That's so great !

        Drug is a social problem so you respond with (more) laws and repressive action ?

        I'm happy I don't live in the same world as you...
        Fuck, I do !

        Answers to social problems are preventive action and removing the roots of the problem (if possible) not repressive laws that are just ignored by the real bad people.
    • Legislate social problems is ineffective.

      Like something that has been posted to the internet, legislating the internet is alot like cleaning pee from the swimming pool. And spammers are like five dozen kids in the swimming pool, half of them trying to see if they can get away with peeing in it.
  • New logo ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by YetAnotherName ( 168064 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @09:40AM (#10317949) Homepage
    Didja notice the Apache feathers on the arrow in the new logo []? Nice touch!
  • New logo (Score:2, Funny)

    by slaad ( 589282 )
    I feel like that new logo should be subtitled "Message for you, sir!"
    Perhaps a good "thwooop!" sound effect would go well with it too.
  • Performance (Score:4, Interesting)

    by smooc ( 59753 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @09:44AM (#10317975) Homepage
    What I would like to know, how does SA scale? About a year ago a talked to my ISP about it and they said they could not use it as it did not scale well and could not handle big loads.

    It would be nice if it could be implemented now as I personally receive about 1000 spam messages a week.
    • how does SA scale?

      That's in their FAQ [].

    • You might also consider getting a GMail account. I've had mine for about 3 months now, and I have *yet* to receive any spam. Pretty impressive.
    • Re:Performance (Score:3, Informative)

      by SCHecklerX ( 229973 )
      It scales just fine. We are using it in comination with Mimedefang's multiplexor here. Mimedefang is great, since you can totally reject stuff that fails basic tests without having to even bother invoking your spam filters.

      We have 3 linux dual-processor mail servers, and have basically maxed them out with memory so that we can use ramdisks for Mimedefang processing. CPU Utilization is currently <10%.

      Some stats from yesterday:

      Spam stats:
      Total Mail In and out: 39320
      Processed by MimeDefang: 24210

    • by EvilStein ( 414640 ) <> on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @03:25PM (#10321737)
      I'm using it on a dual 1.6ghz Xeon box with Gentoo here in the office - the box processes over 70,000 emails per day (spamassassin, amavisd-new and clamav/f-prot) and the load average barely goes above 0.02.

      Your ISP just didn't want to take any time to actually learn about it. :)
  • 3.0 New Features (Score:5, Informative)

    by CleverFox ( 85783 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @09:46AM (#10317992)
    Major feature list:

    - SpamAssassin is now part of the Apache Software Foundation and has an
    improved software license, the 2.0 version of the Apache License.

    - SpamAssassin now includes support for SPF (the Sender Policy

    - Web site links contained in the message are checked against SURBL and
    SBL. SURBL and SBL track sites that advertise with spam, known spam
    sources, and spam services.

    - The new 3.0 architecture allows third-parties to easily add plugin

    - There is now SQL database support for both the Bayes and
    auto-whitelist modules, allowing more large sites to easily deploy

    - A more accurate simulation of email client handling of MIME and HTML
    improves our accuracy. In addition, there is better detection and
    handling of spammer techniques that try to trick anti-spam software.

    Important installation notes:

    - The SpamAssassin 2.6x release series was the last set of releases to
    officially support perl versions earlier than perl 5.6.1. If you are
    using an earlier version of perl, you will need to upgrade before you
    can use the 3.0.0 version of SpamAssassin.

    - SpamAssassin 3.0.0 has a significantly different API (Application
    Program Interface) from the 2.x series of code. This means that if
    you use SpamAssassin through a third-party utility (milter, etc,) you
    need to make sure you have an updated version which supports 3.0.0.

    - The --auto-whitelist and -a options for "spamd" and "spamassassin" to
    turn on the auto-whitelist have been removed and replaced by the
    "use_auto_whitelist" configuration option which is also now turned on
    by default.

    - The "rewrite_subject" and "subject_tag" configuration options were
    deprecated and are now removed. Instead, using "rewrite_header Subject
    [your desired setting]". e.g.

    rewrite_subject 1
    subject_tag ****SPAM(_SCORE_)****


    rewrite_header Subject ****SPAM(_SCORE_)****

    - The Bayesian storage modules have been completely re-written and now
    include Berkeley DB (DBM) storage as well as SQL based storage (see
    sql/README.bayes for more information). In addition, a new format has
    been introduced for the bayes database that stores tokens in fixed
    length hashes. All DBM databases should be automatically converted to
    this new format the first time they are opened for write. You can
    manually perform the upgrade by running "sa-learn --sync" from the
    command line.

    The "sa-learn --rebuild" command has been deprecated; please use
    "sa-learn --sync" instead. The --rebuild option will remain
    temporarily for backwards compatibility.

    - "spamd" now has a default max-children setting of 5; no more than 5
    child scanner processes will be run in parallel. Previously, there
    was no default limit unless you specified the "-m" switch when
    starting spamd.

    - If you are using a UNIX machine with all database files on local
    disks, and no sharing of those databases across NFS filesystems, you
    can use a more efficient, but non-NFS-safe, locking mechanism. Do
    this by adding the line "lock_method flock" to the /etc/mail/spamassassin/ file. This is strongly recommended if
    you're not using NFS, as it is much faster than the NFS-safe locker.

    - Please note that the use of the following command line parameters for
    spamassassin and spamd have been deprecated and are now removed. If
    you currently use these flags, please remove them:

    in the 2.6x series: --add-from, --pipe, -F, -P, --stop-at-threshold, -S
    in the 3.0.x series: --auto-whitelist, -a

    - The following flags are de
  • Curse you ISP! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "Perl v5.6.1 required"

    Sigh. Now I have to fight with my ISP to get a semimodern version of Perl installed.

    • Just e-mail them, and ask them to do the following (I had posted this above):

      # perl -MCPAN -e shell;
      cpan > install Mail::SpamAssassin

      Tell them to have it fulfill prerequisites. What will happen along the way is the CPAN will build the latest Perl in order to make 3.0 build nicely. ;)

      Sure, it's devious and underhanded, but darn works. :P I'm an ISP admin myself, and I do these things as soon as the latest is released, but maybe you have a BOFH or something.
  • Damn... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Am I the only one that loved those cheesy little plastic ninja dudes in the old logo?
    In fact, I thought their logo contest rules suggested that they would prefer the new one to contain those guys still, in some way or another.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @10:07AM (#10318145)
    When do people learn that
    what we need is not spam filters but spam stallers.

    With spam filters your just precipitating in a arms race.

    The spammers will send more and more spam
    and your spam filters will use more and more
    of your processor time to filter the spam.
    It is a uphill battle against the spammer.

    With spam stallers like sa-exim and tarproxy
    your are stalling the spammers smtp connection
    and the effect is that the spammer can't send
    as much spam or that they drop you email from there email database.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      This is not exactly true. If you can manage to get fewer eyeballs viewing the spam, you should get fewer people responding to spam. This is removing the economic incentive while keeping the costs the same. In other words it becomes less profitable.
    • by Coppit ( 2441 )

      With spam filters your just precipitating in a arms race.

      True, but the purpose of a spam filter is to only let legitimate email through. If that encourages spammers to start writing legitimate emails, great! You might argue that they are writing legitimate looking emails, but SpamAssassin has always been 1 step ahead of them.

      With spam stallers like sa-exim and tarproxy your are stalling the spammers smtp connection and the effect is that the spammer can't send as much spam or that they drop you email

  • New logo. (Score:4, Funny)

    by suso ( 153703 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @10:08AM (#10318150) Homepage Journal
    The new logo is nice, but I was kinda partial to the nunchaku wielding ninjas knocking the crap out of spam.
  • by Daniel Ellard ( 799842 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @10:10AM (#10318167)
    This looks great, and I look forward to using it, but it doesn't address the root of the problem. Anyone working on spammerassassin yet?

  • by aardwolf204 ( 630780 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @10:43AM (#10318459)
    A lot of closed source software has open source counterparts, (i.e. MS and Open Office) but its always interesting to see closed source commercial software based on an open source project.

    McAfee has a product for Exchange servers that is based on Spam Assassin called Spam Killer. I found out about it from the Spam Assassin site when I was looking for a windows version. Spam Killer isnt free yet its not as expensive as some of the other solutions out there.

    The major problem I've been having with it is it creating zero byte emails which cannot be downloaded via pop3. When a user gets 30 messages, and message 10 is a zero byte email the client will constantly download the first 10 over and over, creating duplicates, until the user logs into outlook web access (webmail) and deletes the zero byte message. This doesnt happen to the MAPI users but we have quite a few POP3 users.

    The support people are useless, I'm about to try out Microsoft Intelligent Message Filter for exchange, and hopefully with some good RBLs it should be ok.
  • Great Book on it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Erwos ( 553607 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @10:54AM (#10318563)
    I recently read an excellent book on SpamAssassin by Alan Schwartz, published by O'Reilly and Associates, Inc. My views might be biased since he's my first cousin, but if you're a mail server admin, it's probably a must-have. I don't think it covers desktop usage as well, but then again, Evolution's getting that integrated anyways.

    The sections on rules are extremely nice, and I found them pretty informative as to how the software works underneath. It covers version 3, too, so it's damned timely.

  • by Darth_Burrito ( 227272 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @10:56AM (#10318591)
    This may seem a tid bit lazy but...
    It seems like there are linux distributions for just about anything you might want: routers, pvrs, etc. Are there any linux distributions designed to be a mail anti-spam/anti-virus (or just anti=spam) gateway? ... something that would install and configure postfix, spam assassin, etc to receive mail and forward it to another server after filtering it.

    The reason I think this would be cool is because configuring mail apps on linux can be hard and because this would be a great linux foot-in-the-door distribution for Exchange admins who didn't want to pay thousands of dollars for antispam gateways.
  • by bigberk ( 547360 ) <> on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @11:37AM (#10319003)
    SpamAssassin, when properly configured, has spectacular spam detection accuracy. For your account or for a small domain, you should be able to see SA yield "near perfect" filtering (i.e., probably as good as a human could pull off).

    That's the point at which we become interested in SpamAssassin users joining WPBL [], an automated spam reporting system. Powered by scripts living in procmail and cron, participating systems send WPBL lists of IP addresses sending spam and ham. The central server crunches this data hourly to produce a list [rsync://] of blocked IP addresses that are spam sources.

    If your site uses SA and you have verified your spam detection accuracy as nearly-perfect, you might be interested in contributing your spam/ham sighting stats to WPBL. The resulting block list can be used by anyone (and is used by some ISPs for spam scoring). The way I think of it is, after you've taken care of the spam problem at your site why not help tell the rest of the world where spam is coming from.
  • TMDA (Score:3, Informative)

    by Gudlyf ( 544445 ) <gudlyf&realistek,com> on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @12:23PM (#10319508) Homepage Journal
    I've used SpamAssassin for quite some time now, but I was still getting spam through, mostly because I'm a paranoid freak and figured I'd be missing out on mails that it mistakenly tagged as spam.

    What I use now (alongside SpamAssassin) is TMDA []. This is basically an "approval queue" for messages. If someone not in your approved list send you mail, they get a reply telling them they need to send mail to a specificly generated address in order to allow the mail to pass through to me. Eventually mails that don't get approved time-out and get added to a blacklist for the future. I also quickly review the queued items every morning in case someone didn't see the approval mail (it has a tool that allows you to easily peruse the list with just subject and sender info). So far I've gotten NO spam through this method -- NONE. I used to get hundreds a day, and now I have a spam-free INBOX because of TMDA.

    While I highly recommend using TMDA, it may not be for people running businesses or waiting for mail from clients. The auto-reply message can perhaps strike some as inconvenient, even though they only have to do it once (once they've sent mail to the approval address, they're added to the whitelist for all future mails). So far spammers haven't found a way around TMDA it far.

  • by Chris Carollo ( 251937 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @01:29PM (#10320250)
    So I've heard good things about SpamAssassin and headed over the webpage to figure out what I needed to do to install, and I found this [].

    I'm probably going to flamed for this, but that install process is ridiculous. I'm not even close to being a newbie, but there's no way I'd go through that much hassle to install a spamblocker compared to something like SpamBayes that does a standard windows install and hooks right into Outlook. Does anyone thing that these things are reasonable?

    1. I'm supposed to extract it to the root of my drive. Sorry, my root is sacrosanct. If the /. crowd is going to complain about RealPlayer dumping shortcuts in my desktop, quickstart bar, and main start menu, how is SpamAssassin making directories in my root any better? At least I can delete the stuff RealPlayer litters around.

    2. I've got to install Perl modules? And it doesn't work with certain versions of Perl? The install should include whatever it needs to run. Don't make me track down some particular version of outside software.

    3. I've got to generate a batch file and run it to generate the documentation? Why not just include the generated documentation?

    4. Step 10 of the install FAQ mentions a D drive. I don't have a D drive. Does SpamAssassin really require TWO drives to run/test properly?

    5. The whole install process includes 13 steps, some of which are fairly complicated.

    This is one of the reasons why the whole open-source initiative has such a bad, pointy-headed reputation. Where is the focus on usability and user-friendliness? I often get the impression that it's "not cool" to actually put time and energy into making your software anything other that esoteric in its usage. I realy would like to try SpamAssassin, but dealing with the minor annoyances of SpamBayes for the next six months is clearly less work than installing SpamAssassin today. Why doesn't that bother anyone?

    I'm probably going get either flamed or ignored for this post, but I would appreciate a reasonable response if there is one. We'll see I guess.
    • SpamAssassin on Win32 is an afterthought at best.

      The Win32 stuff is provided as a courtesy. I don't think they really expect anyone to use it, since it is so much easier to install on *nix.

    • by Christopher_G_Lewis ( 260977 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @04:41PM (#10322632) Homepage
      First of all, there is no install. This is a pure source release. Quite common, and after a little bit of testing, (you wouldn't blindly put this on a production box, would you :-) it's quite easy.

      Your points...
      1. Extract it where ever you want.
      2. So? PPM and CPAN are simple.
      3. or you could use the docs on the web site you were looking at.

      4. Step 10 does *not* require a D drive, the -D is for Debug mode. It spits out everything that SpamAssassin is doing, i.e. what config files, what db's what tests are being run. Actually quite usefull.

    • by sidney ( 95068 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2004 @09:18PM (#10325272) Homepage
      I did a lot of the work of getting SpamAssassin to build and run on Windows. My goal was to have SpamAssassin build and install on Windows using the unmodified sources before version 3.0 was released. It does that now.

      SpamAssassin was written in Perl on Unix and Gnu/Linux, for use in high volume server environments. The installation for an ISP or for anyone running a *nix mail server is a piece of cake. Their users get their mail filtered without having to install anything on their own PCs.

      The fact that it works on Windows at all is a bonus. It is an open source project. Would anyone like to volunteer to help with the next steps of getting the server daemon, spamd, working properly in Windows as a service; writing or adapting an existing mail proxy that would integrate SpamAssassin with mail clients such as Thunderbird, Mozilla Mail, Eudora, Outlook Express; packaging it up in a standard Windows install package?

      Addressing the 5 points in the parent post:

      1. Nothing has to go in the root directory. The instructions show an example of Perl having been installed in C:\perl and configuration going in directories underneath a C:\etc\mail directory.

      2. Yes you have to install Perl. And a recent enough version that doesn't have certain bugs. And the required modules. SpamAssassin was written in Perl, which makes it useful on systems that have Perl, such as most Unix and GNU/Linux systems. If you install Perl and the modules on your Windows system then you have a system that meets the minimum requirements. If you have a Palm Pilot or or an Xbox or Windows without Perl then your system does not meet the minimum requirements and you are not going to even try to run SpamAssassin on it. In that case install SpamBayes, or get an ISP who uses SpamAssassin for your mail, or any of many other alternatives.

      3. Making the doc files is easier in *nix. I'll file a request for enhancement suggesting that generating the HTML be made part of the Makefile and that it be made to work under Windows. The doc files are generated from the sources as part of the build, so they are not included in a source distribution, which is what we are talking about here. If someone built a binary distribution they would include the doc files.

      4. That -D command line option stands for Debug, not D drive

      5. The whole install proces consists of 13 steps, some of which are things like "download SpamAssassin", some of which are "if you are installing the old version 2.6x do this extra step", and some of which have to do with getting the required Perl and Perl modules. The actual installation pretty much happens in three lines of step 7. It really is quite easy for a build and installation starting from source files. A binary installation package would be a lot easier. Does anyone know how to package perl plus modules plus a built SpamAssassin into a Windows install package? If you do, feel free to volunteer.

      The focus on usability and user friendliness is where it should be in this particular project, on the sysadmin who installs SpamAssassin on a server and on their end users who don't have to install anything at all.

      If you have the ideas and the expertise to also make SpamAssassin more useful and friendly to the end user owner of a PC running Windows, please volunteer to help.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton