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The Costs of Spam The costs involved in processing and storing spam for WiscMail and WiscMail Plus Outline Spam volumes Spam storage costs Solutions – spam volumes Solutions – spam storage More solutions Anti-Spam Working Group Spam Volumes 6 million messages/day

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the costs of spam

The Costs of Spam

The costs involved in processing and storing spam for WiscMail and WiscMail Plus

  • Spam volumes
  • Spam storage costs
  • Solutions – spam volumes
  • Solutions – spam storage
  • More solutions
  • Anti-Spam Working Group
spam volumes
Spam Volumes
  • 6 million messages/day
  • Spam volumes are up 300% since early 2006
  • Non-Spam volumes are up 50% in the same period
spam volumes4
Spam Volumes
  • Why have the spam volumes increased?
    • Botnets
      • Millions of ‘zombie’ computers are able to keep ahead of DNS blacklists
    • Successful spammers
      • Image Spam is hard to detect
      • Spam profits lead to innovation
    • Reaction to Anti-Spam
      • Greylisting is rumored to have doubled spam volumes
spam storage costs
Spam Storage Costs
  • Spam storage costs are small
    • About 250 GB (4% of total)
    • Users tend to empty Junk Mail often
    • Spam in Junk Mail folders is deleted after 15 days of age
      • New feature! – users can specify a lower threshold
    • Aggressively blocking or deleting spam may end up costing more in support costs than it will save in storage costs
spam storage costs7
Spam Storage Costs
  • Legitimate Email is fueling storage costs
    • 96% of storage costs
    • Steady 40% yearly increase
    • Larger attachment sizes
    • Email is increasingly relied on for long term storage of knowledge
  • Abandoned accounts are a small factor
    • 450 accounts * 100 MB = 45 GB
    • Needs to be addressed before more quota is given
solutions spam volumes
Solutions – Spam Volumes

It is impossible to reduce the spam volumes. Potential solutions only really optimize our resources by changing the way we process spam.

  • Blocking – Reputation Services
    • Refuse to communicate with sources that are on public blacklists
    • High false positive rate – increases support costs
  • Greylisting
    • Don’t accept any mail on the first attempt
    • Leads to large mail delays – many hours
solutions spam volumes10
Solutions – Spam Volumes
    • GReylisting Of Suspicious Sources
    • Compromise of greylisting and blocking
    • Caveats
      • Still have to dedicate server resources to determine if the source is “suspicious”
      • Spammers will adapt – so we need to be flexible enough to adapt too
      • Does not save us much on storage costs
solutions spam volumes11
Solutions – Spam Volumes
  • Don’t send spam through WiscList
    • Prevents 30,000 messages from turning into 500,000 messages
  • Don’t forward spam to other domains
    • Keeps our servers off blacklists which prevents our legitimate mail from being blocked or deleted
  • Optimize internal email flow
    • Recent server upgrades have enabled us to limit impact of spam attacks from affecting internal email
solutions spam storage
Solutions – Spam Storage
  • Junk Mail retention
    • Let users choose a lower retention
    • Popular feature, but may only save us 1% in storage
  • Delete incoming highly rated spam
    • Not recommended – it would cost us more in support costs involved with tracking down “lost messages” than it will save us in storage costs
more solutions
More Solutions
  • “Submit Spam” button in webmail
    • Gives us better detection
  • Decoy MX
    • Mislead the misbehaving spammers
  • Identify Internal Abuse
    • Find ways to detect compromised accounts used for spamming
    • Determine what action to take
  • Be flexible and open minded to new ways to thwart Spam
    • There is no FUSSP (Final Ultimate Solution to the Spam Problem)
anti spam working group
Anti-Spam Working Group
  • Anti-Spam Best Practices
    • Group of campus email administrators have met a few times to talk about anti-spam issues
    • Plan to meet semi-regularly

Jesse Thompson

  • Pat Brennan