Beating back spam at the network’s edge

By moving its spam eradication process from the Exchange server to the edge of the network, Calgary-based builder Jayman MasterBuilt says it has dramatically enhanced network bandwidth, while reducing spam volumes.

The construction firm says in the three months since its implementation of RazorGate 100 – an e-mail security appliance from Sunnvale, Calif-based Mirapoint – it has seen spam volumes drop by around 80 per cent.

For Jayman, the rollout has proved to be an effective antidote to the logistical nightmare caused by spam over so many years.

Not so long ago, 40 per cent of the 20,000 e-mails the company received each day – across 350 mailboxes – were spam. Jayman’s previous anti-spam product generated a high false positive rate (legitimate e-mails tagged as spam) and employees spent several hours a day combing blocked messages in the quarantine folder.

“Our previous solution was catching [spam],” said Terry Naven, chief information officer at Jayman. “But the problem was within the Exchange server. So [spam] that got in really slowed [the server] down, making it work a lot harder than we thought necessary.”

Over the past 18 months, Jayman’s staff size doubled and Naven and his team started to recognize that the previous anti-spam application was not up to snuff. He said processing an extra 15,000 messages would not cripple the system, but would definitely slow it down.

One remedy would be to spend more on bigger and faster servers. However, that was not an option Naven wanted to pursue. He said he sought tools that would give his company a fighting chance at winning the spam battle.

And he found this in RazorGate 100.

Jayman’s previous practice of attempting to eradicate spam and viruses on the Exchange server was not the most effective way of dealing with the problem, according to a Mirapoint spokesperson.

“At that point the spam is already in the network infrastructure and using up network bandwidth,” said Craig Carpenter, director of corporate marketing and global channel at Mirapoint. He said RazorGate moves the entire process to the edge of the network so “the piping inside the system doesn’t get clogged up.”

According to Carpenter, this unclogging process is facilitated by MailHurdle, a component of RazorGate. As spam attempts to enter the network from incoming mail servers, he said, MailHurdle checks whether these servers are complying with the SMTP protocol. If they are not, or are exhibiting strange behaviour, MailHurdle asks those servers to re-send the message. “Legitimate mail servers will send the message in again, illegitimate ones [won’t]. The end result is a reduction in spam that does not reach the edge of the network or even its inner workings.”

Naven said he selected RazorGate because it is the only product out there that is able to combat spam at the edge of the network. He said all the other products he looked at deal with spam after it infiltrates the network.

Clint Landry, IT technician with Jayman said RazorGate’s biggest advantage is it is a hardware product that sits in the server room of the company’s Calgary office. That’s much better, he said, than relying on software-based programs.

Another attractive feature of the product, he said, is it lightens the Exchange server load and that frees up a lot of CPU cycles.

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