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Unsolicited Commercial Email - better known as spam,is a tremendous problem these days. We all hate it. Most providers have taken steps to minimize it as have individual users but in the end the spammers will always be one step ahead and will design their messages to look as much like standard correspondance as possible so that no filter can eliminiate it. While we must all tolerate some amount of spam there are certainly things that can be done to keep the amount of spam under control. We have tried to design the OWT Mail Filter to be as easy to use and understand as possible. However, spam filtering is a complex issue and you will need to understand some basic concepts to be able to configure the filter properly for your needs. This guide is not meant to be a detailed guide with detailed explanations of every term and concept. This guide is intended to help those familiar with basic Email terminology and web navigation techniques. If you are not able to understand some of the more advanced issues mentioned here, we suggest that you contact our technical support staff or at least utilize only the features you do understand. If you are just fed up with spam and want to reduce it without learning any of this just call our tech support staff at 783-3454 and we will enable a basic filter for you. This will reduce your spam substantially but it will not be optimal. This filter is a very powerful tool. Along with the power to minimize the unsolicited Email you receive comes the power to reject mail you may wish to see. Make sure you understand how the filter works before entering your settings.

Accessing the Filter

To access the OWT Mail Filter Configuration Tool point your web browser to http://mailfilter.owt.com The first screen you will see will have updates and some other useful information with a "Login Now" link that will take you to the actual configuration system. When you click on the "Login Now" you will be prompted for your OWT username and password. Make sure that you enter just your username (eg. joeuser) and not your Email address (eg. joeuser@owt.com)! The configuration system does have online help but we suggest you read through this guide before making your settings.

Terms

Here is a brief explanation of terms you will need to understand before you continue:

  • Scoring - the process used by our spam recognition system to rate the severity of spam. Rules are applied to the message that check for common components of spam assigning a positive value to each rule. In addition common components of normal correspondence are checked for as well with these elements given a negative value. After all the rules are applied the message score is totaled. This score is what the filter will base its actions on. To view the actual score you must view the "headers" of your Email message. This is done differently in the various Email clients available but generally the option will contain the word "header" or possibly "view source".
  • Drop Score - this is the value you instruct the filter to consider the maximum spam score you wish to receive in the account you are configuring. Messages scoring above this value will be permanently deleted.
  • Spam Score - messages scoring greater than your spam score and less than your drop score may optionally be routed to another OWT mailbox or even another Email account with a different provider.
  • Mailbox - we are referring to a mailbox as any physical OWT Email account. This does NOT include aliases or virtual Email addresses or accounts with other providers.
  • Spambox - this is a mailbox you will designate as the destination for messages scoring above your spam score but less than your drop score.

Setting Your Drop Score

The first setting in your mail filter is the "drop score". From the pull-down menu select a number from 7 to 25 to represent the maximum spam score you want to receive. Any message scoring above this value will be permanently deleted - not bounced to the sender. If you do not wish to drop any mail simply select "Don't Filter". Until you are familiar with the scoring system you may want to set this somewhat high and move it down as you understand how Email is scored. Suggested setting: We have found that virtually everything above 15 is unsolicited and above 18 most messages are pornographic in nature. We suggest starting at 15 but if you have a low tolerance for spam you wish to start as low as 10. Parents may wish to configure their children's accounts as low as 8.

Setting Your Spam Score

Before you can even consider setting a spam score you must have some place to route Email that scores above this setting and below your drop score. We strongly urge all OWT customers to utilize this feature! Virtually every access account with OWT includes extra mailbox accounts FREE so have us setup one of those for your spam box. It may be quite convenient to setup a single spam box that is shared by all family or company members that one person patrols periodically for any wanted Email that may have slipped through. By utilizing a spam box your daily Email efforts will be reduced dramatically. Some users like to use the free Email services such as HotMail, Yahoo! Mail etc. You can route mail above your spam score to these addresses as well. Select you spam score from the pull-down menu - obviously this score needs to be below your drop score to make any sense at all. If you do not wish to route any messages to a spam box just select "Don't Filter". Once you have established your spam score you must now enter either an OWT mailbox or an external Email address in the appropriate field. Note that if you enter something in both fields the OWT mailbox will take precedence over the external Email address. Be aware that OWT mailboxes entered into the spambox field will be expired for Email over 14 days automatically.

Virus Warnings

Our mail filtering system will remove most known viruses before they are delivered to you. You are sent a warning message informing you of the situation but the infected attachments have already been deleted. There is no setting to override this. Since most viruses are sent by infected users whose system has run amok, it is useful to just discard or spambox the resulting warning messages. We suggest that you at least spambox the warnings but many users may wish to just drop them. In the section labeled "VIRUS WARNINGS:" select your preference. The default is to deliver these warnings.

Exception List Support

If configured properly, the mail filter will work very well for most users. To make sure a very small number of messages make it through you may have to have your settings higher than you would like. To solve that, the filter also supports an exception list of addresses that you may choose to drop, allow (even if scored as spam) or route to your spambox. You must be VERY CAREFUL here as this is a very powerful feature. All addresses support a wildcards (see below) as well as any part of an Email address. As of Version 2.0 you may now select matching criteria without using the wildcard. Here are some examples: Drop Addresses That End With @hotmail.com - this will drop ALL mail coming from hotmail.com This is better than: Drop Addresses That End With *hotmail.com - as this will also filter mail from notsohotmail.com Allow Addresses That Exactly Match mybuddy@hotmail.com - this will allow this address through even if it has a high spam score. HOWEVER, if you also have an exception entry of *@hotmail.com this exception of a specific address must be ABOVE the global hotmail filter. Spambox Addresses That Exactly Match oldfriend@yahoo.com - this will route mail from this address to your previously defined spam box. YOU MUST HAVE DEFINED A SPAM BOX FOR THIS FEATURE TO WORK! If not you will lose messages from this address. Drop Adresses That Begin With friend - any address beginning with friend will be dropped. This would drop friendly@public.com as well as friendofyours@msn.com You may specify more complex rules using the wildcard string * (meaning any string of characters) and the wildcard character ? (meaning any one character). When using your own wildcards make sure you select the Exactly Match specification. Here is an example: Spambox Addresses That Exactly Match *@mail.?? - this will route to your spambox all mail from mail.ru and mail.rr etc.

Saving Your Mail Filter Settings

To make your changes active click on the Update button at the bottom of the screen. If the filter detects any errors in what you have entered you will be notified in an Error: box near the top of the screen. Generally if an error is detected your previous settings will be restored. Your filter settings are live immediately. Other Reference Information

  • Spam Scoring
  • Email Filtering

External References: