One week after University Information Services implemented more stringent spam filters, several students reported that there has been a noticeable drop in the amount of spam they have received in their Georgetown e-mail accounts.

Beth Ann Bergsmark, a director at UIS, said UIS had increased spam filters to reduce student inbox clutter, as well as block scam e-mails that deceive students into releasing private information. These upgrades came in response to reports from a UIS user group citing an increase of two to 10 spam messages per day.

“Based on community feedback and requests, UIS changed the threshold of what’s considered spam to increase the filters and reduce the amount of spam delivered to users,” Bergsmark said. “[Reports of increased spam messages were] not enough to change the overall volume of mail, but we received enough user reports and saw several spikes to warrant increasing the filters.”

Bergsmark said Georgetown uses a multi-tiered anti-spam approach. It subscribes to a third-party block list that automatically deletes messages sent from known spamming IP addresses.

Currently, about 80 percent of e-mails sent to Georgetown addresses are deleted, which is over 1.5 million messages a day, Bergsmark said.

“I use Gmail, but I forward all my Georgetown University e-mails to my Gmail account. I’ve seen fewer things in the spam box,” Amanda Delp (SFS ’11) said.

any students, like Delp, said they have received fewer spam messages in their inboxes, but Bergsmark said that a potential consequence of bolstering the spam filters is that some legitimate e-mails are now being diverted to spam folders.

“Some of the e-mails that I get that are legitimate, they put as spam. I barely got any spam before the filter. It’s more taking my regular mail and putting it in the spam mail,” Andrew Curtis (MSB ’11) said.

Erwin Knippenberg (SFS ’11) said he is still receiving roughly the same amount of spam.

“I get about the same amount,” he said. “The improved filter is still not catching them.”

The university has been battling high levels of spam for years, implementing the Ironport spam service, which deletes possible spam based on the e-mail’s subject, title or sender address, in February 2007. This supplemented the previously installed Spamhaus system, which UIS implemented in 2004 after discovering that 20 percent of all university e-mail was spam.

In September, a wave of 250,000 spam messages also derailed the university’s e-mail system and other networks requiring a NetID login for over a day, prompting further upgrades.

One of the major sources of spam for both the university and students is “phishing,” which occurs when an e-mail sender attempts to obtain personal information illicitly. Many times, the spammers provide false sending addresses in order to make their e-mail look more legitimate.

“Georgetown doesn’t necessarily receive more of these attempts than other places, but any university with large numbers of students, faculty and staff, as well as companies with large customer bases, are good targets for spammers,” Bergsmark said.

She said students should be hesitant to provide sensitive information to anyone asking for it via e-mail.

“Students should never respond to an e-mail requesting sensitive information, such as their passwords, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, et cetera,” she said. “You should also avoid clicking on a Web site provided in an e-mail that you did not solicit. Many viruses are now transmitted through these fake Web sites.”

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