Lotus adds anti-spam features

Lotus Software Group last month said it would include server-side spam filtering controls in Domino 6.0 when the collaboration server ships later this year.

The new features are highlighted by a rules-processing control similar to the features in Notes, the client-side software of the Lotus collaboration suite. The other feature is the ability to run real-time queries against public “blackhole” lists, which provide the addresses of known spammers.

“Customers are telling us that spam is costing them lots of money,” says Ed Brill, senior manager for messaging and collaboration at Lotus. “We think these new features can help save money and help administrators save end-users time.”

Spam is indeed a growing problem for corporations, in terms of amount and cost to deal with it. According to Osterman Research, spam volumes can reach 15.6 million messages annually for a company of 5,000, resulting in a cost of just under US$344,000 each year.

But the Osterman study says that anti-spam filtering won’t completely wipe out that cost. The study says users will see costs associated with evaluating, deploying and maintaining anti-spam products. There also are costs for the occasional false positive that prevents e-mail from reaching its intended destination and extra loads placed on mail servers and storage.

Brill admits that Domino will suffer a performance hit, and that users will have to weigh the trade-offs.

The rules filtering will allow administrators to filter words and messages contained in every e-mail that enters the organization and reroute, flag or delete the message from the system before it gets into end-user mailboxes. The rules filtering can be used in conjunction with filtering features in Notes, but the intention is to minimize the amount of work each end-user has to do to filter out spam.

The “blackhole” feature allows users to link to public anti-spam sites as a means for filtering e-mail. Domino administrators can take one of three actions on spam: log that spam has been received; add a field to the message that it is from a known spam site and use the field to filter, flag or run reports on messages; or simply delete the message.

The spam features have been under beta test in the pre-release version of Domino 6, which shipped May 7. Lotus officials say they plan to have one more beta of the software before final shipment this fall.

Lotus competitor Microsoft Exchange also has simple spam filtering capabilities in its Exchange 2000 server, as well as client-side filtering in its Outlook client.

Lotus and Microsoft also have third-party partners that supply anti-spam software for their mail servers.

Lotus says its new Domino features provide baseline functionality and that third-party tools will continue to support tighter filtering controls and sophisticated back-end reporting capabilities.

Pricing for Domino 6 has yet to be announced.