IEEE cans spam with Roaring Penguin

Like many other enterprises, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) has been battling with the issue of spam. On Monday, it announced it has made a move to help control the amount of unwanted e-mail its users receive with the purchase of software from a Canadian firm.

Acting as the world’s largest technical professional organization with more than 360,000 members spanning the globe, the IEEE is a large target for spam, according to Robert Jones, senior director, Electronic Communications with the IEEE in Piscataway, N.J.

As part of membership options, IEEE members may opt in for e-mail aliases ending in The association currently services over 97,000 e-mail accounts for both staff and members and while some members feel the brunt of spam more than others, Jones knew something had to be done to lessen the spam load.

“Spam is an issue with e-mail, period,” Jones told IT World Canada. “You can just imagine that with an e-mail address ending in, we are just as much a target for spam as something outside the domain.”

Through the help of outside consultancies, the IEEE found Ottawa-based Roaring Penguin Software Inc., the maker of CanIt and CanIt-PRO anti-spam products. While the IEEE had looked at several anti-spam offerings, Jones said the final decision was made to use CanIt-PRO due to its ability to be customized by the user.

“Because spam to me may not be spam to you, I was anxious to put some type of control in the users’ hands,” he explained.

Roaring Penguin’s CanIt-PRO software is based on the company’s free MIMEDefang e-mail manipulation and inspection software. It sits directly on e-mail servers and filters all messages passing through based on an algorithm that weighs and determines spam from legitimate mail. The software also allows users to customize their own settings in terms of the degree of filtering and enables them to opt out of mail filtering altogether.

The company’s latest iteration of the software, CanIt-PRO 2.0, includes Bayesian filters, which essentially help the software recognize and block spam before it gets to users’ inboxes.

“Because spammers are always changing their tactics, having a fixed set of rules will become obsolete within a month or two,” explained David Skoll, president of Roaring Penguin. “The Bayesian filtering lets your system adapt to spam and recognize certain words in spam messages. That way, your basic fixed rules can apply longer.”

The IEEE has been running CanIt-PRO on its Unix servers for nearly two months and has already been hearing positive feedback from e-mail users, according to Jones.

“We haven’t been inundated with thanks, but some people have asked us about the software and have given us some insight in terms of their personal time savings, which is important,” he said.

The CanIt product can be clustered to scale to high e-mail volumes, Skoll said, and is available in standard and professional versions as either a software download or on a plug-and-play appliance.

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