A new anti-spam feature devised by MailScanner mastermind, Julian Field, could lessen the amount of junk mail that companies and individuals receive.
The new development works by using a spam filtering system which scores messages, deleting those which are the most .spammy. and wrapping the remaining ones in other messages so that if they happen to be offensive, the recipient is shielded from the full impact.
Spam and viruses are now persistent and recurring threats to the security of the Internet, threatening the operations of business and public networks, companies, and government departments, as well as personal email accounts worldwide.
Julian, who is based in the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton, began developing MailScanner in 2000, and it has now become the world.s most widely-used email security and anti-spam system, protecting around 40,000 sites around the world, and blocking 500 million spam messages daily. This month, he launches a Guide to MailScanner which brings together all the information about the software for its thousands of users around the world.
According to Julian, the success of his operation lies in its open source system.He comments: .To securely perform its role, MailScanner must be reliable and trustworthy. The only way to achieve the required level of trust is to be open source, an approach that commercial suppliers are not willing to take. By virtue of being open source, the technology has been reviewed many times over by some of the world.s best and brightest in the field of computer security..
Julian claims that the system.s spam handling technology is ahead of the competition. He comments: .Our spam handling features are much more flexible than other systems. Even if our system thinks a message is spam, it can still let it through but can wrap it up in another message so that if it is offensive, it won.t hit you in the face..
The success of MailScanner can be judged from the fact that it is used in some of the world.s leading organizations, including Vodafone Europe, US Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, Harvard, MIT, and Cambridge universities, and Amnesty International, Friends Of The Earth and the British Antarctic Survey. The technology is fast becoming the standard email solution at many ISP sites for virus protection and spam filtering.
Julian continues to develop MailScanner.s capabilities and upgrade the system: .By being open source, I can react very quickly to add extra layers of defence when the virus writers try to exploit a newly discovered vulnerability in users' email applications,. he says. .MailScanner does not solely rely on the virus scanners to protect messages--there are multiple levels of defence so that users are protected from new virus outbreaks before the commercial (closed-source) AV vendors publish detection signatures for them..
The MailScanner book was written and published to provide a single central easy-to-use resource that brings together information about using MailScanner from many different locations on the net to help all the administrators who use it. It also provides a very in-depth analysis of the design of MailScanner to assist more advanced users managing complex configurations for large sites.
An article in last month.s PC PRO magazine fully underlined Julian.s role in the global fight against viruses: .How many of you have .Julian Field gets run over by a bus. as a bullet point in your disaster recovery plan?.it warned.
The 2004 Open Source Award from UKUUG (the UK"s Unix and Open Systems User Group) recognises the development of free and open source software in the UK.
MailScanner is a complete e-mail security system designed for use on UNIX/Linux e-mail gateways, which protects against viruses and can detect almost all spam. Now the front line of defence at more than 20,000 sites in 60 countries, MailScanner protects over 5 billion emails every week, and has been downloaded a quarter of a million times.
The system is distributed free under the GNU General Public License so Julian can maintain direct contact with users and work with them to make improvements.
Julian wins a £500 cash prize and an expenses-paid trip to the Open Source Convention in Portland, Oregon.
Computer experts at the University have just released a new version of their hugely popular free-to-use email security system MailScanner, offering a high level of protection to companies and institutions wanting to safeguard their computer networks from viruses and the potential threat of cyber-terrorism.
Developed by Julian Field of the Department of Electronics and Computer Science, MailScanner processes over 500 million email messages every day around the world, removing 2 million viruses and identifying 75 million spam messages.
It is already in use at 20,000 sites around the world, protecting top government departments, commercial corporations and educational institutions, including the University itself, and is becoming a standard feature of many Internet Service Providers.
In the current global climate, the possibility of cyber-terrorism is an ever-growing threat and protection against viruses and other email-based attacks is now more important than ever before,. explains Julian Field.
The US Department of Homeland Security recognizes that the Internet is a core part of the economy and the US intelligence community has warned of the growing threat of cyber-terrorism. By making MailScanner available to companies we hope to help reduce the spread of such attacks..
MailScanner scans all e-mail for viruses, spam and attacks against security vulnerabilities. It is not tied to any particular virus scanner, but can be used with any combination of 14 different virus scanners, allowing sites to choose the .best of breed. virus scanners. Being open source, site administrators can audit and verify the integrity of the system.