Tag: spamassassin

Tsunami warnings need some help

After the extremely unfortunate occurence in Indonesia and surrounding countries late last year, the powers that be decided it was time for a tsunami warning system for the Indian Ocean region. Now they need a little help from some friends (meaning email administrators).

It was noted during the first tests of the new system that SpamAssassin blocks the email warnings from the system, when SpamAssassin is installed straight out of the box (and no, there is no box for the open source prog). Capitalized subject lines and hidden sender information cause the issue.

Tweak the install and save a few lives, will ya boys and girls.

***UPDATE/CORRECTION***

SpamAssassin does not score the tsunami warnings as spam straight out of the box as previously suggested – once third party rules and other traditional lockdowns are put in place, the warnings get high enough scores.

Also, Michael Parker from SpamAssassin has suggested (in comment) that if someone has full source for one of the warnings that they can forward to the development team, the SpamAssassin crew can take corrective action.

Interview with the SpamAssassin

Nothing related to spam is complete without some talk about SpamAssassin. Quite possibly one of the finest open-source initiatives out there, SpamAssassin recently took first prize in Datamation’s Anti-Spam Product of the Year 2005 challenge (see SpamAssassin Takes Top Anti-Spam Honors).

So Howard Wen, a freelance contributor to The O’Reilly Network got a chance to speak with Daniel Quinlan, the main honcho behind the jewel of spam elimination. You can read more by clicking here: The Spam Assassin Behind SpamAssassin :: Open Source, Linux News & Software – OSDir.com :: Linux & Open Source News from Across the Community.

Thanks goes out to Daniel Quinlan and Howard Wen.

Thomas Bayes – Good Guy

The Rev. Thomas Bayes was an Englishman who lived in the 1700s. While I suppose that religion was his primary work product, he did draft a paper which formed the basis for programs like SpamAssassin. Called Bayesian Reasoning (unfortunately some time after he passed on) , ol’ Rev. Bayes theorized that events that have already taken place might have some usefulness in calculating that something else might happen, even if the events seem quite independent.

To the average recipient of tons of spam, this might make things a little easier:

A system gets some email, and the user flags it as spam. The spam contains certain elements that make it so (say the word Viagra). As more email is put into the system, the user continues to “train” it by denoting messages as spam or not spam based on subjective criteria. As time passes, the system says “I just recieved an email, and it contains elements similar to those that were flagged as spam in the past, so I will give it a score, then see what else I can come up with”. If the system finds enough criteria similar to those that were in messages, received in the past that were flagged as spam, it will then flag the new message as spam.

For the complex answer, including a link to a stellar writeup on the subject, take a look at Sidebar: Bayes and His Theorem – Computerworld.

Threats peaked? Whatever!

Larry Seltzer of eWeek has an interesting op-ed entitled More Evidence Spam Has Peaked. Interesting, I say, as late in the article Larry points out a big reason why it might not have actually peaked (and why it may never go away).
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