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What You Need to Know About Spam Filters

What You Need to Know About Spam Filters

Having a spam filter in place for your email system will reduce the chances of your employees having to deal with spam emails. Spam that makes its way into an inbox can cause numerous issues, from burying important messages to reducing efficiency to serious problems, such as spreading malware. To keep your company safe and improve efficiency, you should always enable the default spam filters for your email system. However, you will want to make sure that your spam filter policies go beyond this.

Why Your Company Should Use Spam Filters

Before getting into the best practices regarding spam filters for your small business, take a moment to refresh your memory on why these filters are so important. As mentioned earlier, a spam filter will save your company time since employees will not need to waste precious minutes or more scanning their emails and deleting or marking spam. This reduction in wasted time can boost productivity. On a related note, spam filters help keep inboxes clean, which makes it much easier to spot important messages, further boosting efficiency.

Spam filters also play a key protective role when it comes to cybersecurity. While some spam is simply in the form of an annoying advertisement, a great deal of it actually serves a more sinister purpose. Some spam emails will be phishing attempts that want to get crucial employee information so the cybercriminal behind the message can access your network or data. Or the spam message may contain a virus or other type of malware. Even opening the wrong email can lead to viruses entering your network.

Spam filters can also help your company comply with regulations regarding data security by reducing the risk of a cybercriminal gaining access to sensitive client information. Because spam filters can increase efficiency and reduce the risk of security threats, they can also help your company’s reputation. Your clients will appreciate the extra security measures you take to keep their information safe and will certainly notice your efficiency.

Best Practices for Spam Filters

Choose a Program with Customization

The majority of spam filter programs available offer customization, so you can use the features you need or want and ignore those that are less important. At the very least, ensure that your filter lets you set a whitelist and customize how long spam messages remain in the folder before being automatically deleted. There should also be customization available in terms of the filters that you can apply to your messages. Other than this, the more customization available, the better — within reason.

Ensure the Program Works on Multiple Emails

When selecting the anti-spam software to use for your company, ensure that the program you choose can support multiple email accounts. At a minimum, it should work to filter spam on all the email accounts currently used by you and your employees, with room for your business to grow. This will allow you to apply the same filters and customization to all of your accounts, so they have the same level of protection. As such, you will likely want to opt for a business-level program. Otherwise, you may need to set up individual anti-spam filters for each email account used by your company, which would be very time consuming and possibly expensive.

Pay Attention to How Spam Is Determined

As you select your spam filter program, pay attention to the method(s) it uses to determine which messages are actually spam. The best anti-spam solutions can accurately decide if a message is spam based on the email address, subject line, and message content. Of course, this should all be possible to do without opening the message at all. The best programs will catch the spam and delete or move it to a designated spam folder, possibly with a quarantine, before it gets to your inbox.

Use Whitelists

No spam filter is perfect at distinguishing between messages that are wanted and those that are not, so you will have to supplement it with a whitelist. Your spam filter program should make it simple to include a whitelist of the various domains and specific email addresses that should always be allowed through. When you get a new client or important business contact, ensure that their email addresses are added to this whitelist. Otherwise, you may miss an important message due to an overactive spam filter.

Ensure Spam Is Quarantined

Various spam filters will take slightly different actions when it comes to dealing with spam. Some will just move the detected spam to a separate folder in your email account, whether that folder has additional security measures in place. However, the best programs put those potentially harmful emails in a contained location where they cannot do any damage. You should always make sure that your chosen spam filter includes some element of containment technology or can work with this type of technology.

Regularly Confirm Spam Messages

Keep in mind that a whitelist is not enough to ensure that your spam filter does not accidentally classify wanted messages as spam. After all, a whitelist can only help you if you have input the given email address or domain, making it ineffective when a new client or service provider contacts your company. Because of this, you should encourage employees to regularly skim the titles of messages in their spam folders or filters (without opening them) to ensure that nothing looks like it should not have been blocked.

Always Apply Updates

Just like any other piece of software, your spam filter will occasionally receive updates. The most extensive programs for businesses can have hundreds of filters built into it. Due to the complicated nature of the filter and the fact that cybercriminals tend to advance their technology regularly, most developers will include updates in their anti-spam software. This is common practice as well as for any software.

As with the other software that your business uses, delaying updates related to your spam filters can put you at risk. You may end up with an increase in spam emails slipping through the cracks, including those that are potentially harmful with malware attached.