(Ping! Zine Issue 4) – Refinance your mortgage; order Viagra®; enlarge your penis…These, as I am sure you have experienced, are seemingly the most popular forms of spam, or junk e-mail, that seem to show up in our mailboxes on an hourly basis. Furthermore, as we have become more attuned to such nuisances, the spammers, too, have become craftier as well. For instance, it used to be that when you opted out of a mailing, you would stop receiving them within a day or so. For legit e-mail marketing efforts, this is often the case; however, the ones that seem to flood the gates, the opt-out link is conveniently missing or broken. Even worse, when you unsubscribe, you get marked as a person who actually opens the junk mail, which in turn, exponentially increases the number of messages of these sorts.
Of course, if you ask me, I never get any of those types of e-mails. As I am convinced the e-mail spammers are using targeted mailing lists, I am excluded. I am financially sound, sexually potent, and well endowed. Actually, who am I kidding…I hardly receive messages of this sort because I employ the user of a server-side spam filter. I’ve also managed to stay free and clear of computer viruses as a result of this, and more importantly, I’ve prevented loads of customer frustration and complaining.
With the recent virus onslaught, the need for e-mail filtering and spam filtering has really been brought to the table. I am certain that many of you who run your own web hosting companies were flooded with e-mails and phone calls from customers asking why they had 200 infected e-mails coming in each day. There have always been answers, but many are either clumsy or expensive.
For instance, there are several programs that can be installed on the end-user’s desktop that filter e-mails that come into program such as Outlook Express or Eudora. These are good, but typically, require the end-user to purchase, install, and use. Also, with many of you most likely being afflicted with the title “computer guy”, you in turn, end up supporting this program as well. Other programs can be installed right on your server, to filter out e-mails before they ever reach your mail servers for your customers to download. These are solid solutions, but often are expensive and involve a high degree of skill, time, and cost to deploy and install.
Another solution, which appears to be very effective, user-friendly, and affordable, is from a California based company called SpamSoap (www.spamsoap.com). With this solution, you manage the spam filters through a web-based interface. Essentially, to turn the filter on, you point your MX record to a server they specify and then set up a special mailbox on your server that triggers the spam filter. You can then, through the administrative interface, add filters, such as senders, recipients, keywords, attachments, subject, etc. They do admit to potentially filtering out a legitimate e-mail once in a while (their claim is 1 in about 20,000).
As for pricing, it is a tiered structure depending on how many e-mail accounts want to use the spam-blocking service. It starts at $25.00/month for 1-10 e-mail addresses and goes up to $1,000/mo. for up to 1,000 e-mail addresses. They also have a great channel partner program that gives you a 25% commission on all sales you bring in as well as bonuses for getting other channel partners into the program. The idea here would be to either bill your clients a little more for the “spam-out” hosting package, include it as a feature if you want to eat the cost, or to just refer them to SpamSoap directly should the customer wish to configure their own filters.