Feature Analysis and Effectiveness

Allow/Block List:

 

Effectiveness: High

 

Advantages: Allows certain messages that have a word or phrase you have chosen to bypass the filter when you add them to your Allow list.  Messages containing words or phrases can be blocked automatically as well when you add them to your Block list.

 

How it works:  After you have added a word to your Allow or Block list, any message containing that word/phrase will be allowed to pass through the filter if added to your Allow list or blocked if added to your Block list.  This can decrease false positives and increase the accuracy of classifying spam.

 

Limitations: Word phrases to allow or block messages must be carefully chosen so that only the proper messages are allowed or blocked by word or phrase.

 

Recommendations:  We recommend enabling this filter for almost all users.  Be careful with the word phrases you put in your allow list so you don't accidentally allow spam messages through.

 

 

Analyze links:

 

Effectiveness: Medium

 

Advantages:  Can effectively filter messages that may only contain an html link.  This has the potential to catch more spam messages.

 

How it works: Performs a Bayesian analysis of the links in your email messages. Spam Bully intelligently reviews the content on the web pages these email links point to so it can determine if the email is spam or not spam.  This is helpful in analyzing messages that may only contain a link to a website. 

 

Limitations: This process can be slow as each message must be scanned for links and then the web page or pages must be retrieved and processed.

 

Recommendations:  We recommend enabling this feature only if Spam Bully is not effectively filtering your messages.  You should also have a high speed connection.  If you have a slow connection, you can test it for speed and effectiveness at reducing your spam.

 

 

Bayesian Filter:

 

Effectiveness: High

 

Advantages:  The heart of Spam Bully; Trained properly the Bayesian filter can be almost as effective as you are in filtering spam messages.

 

How it works:  Bayesian filters work by looking at the words that are used in spam emails and good emails and then classifying the email based on the words that these emails contain.  There are certain words that tend to comprise spam emails and also certain words that tend to comprise your good emails.  By analyzing these patterns Spam Bully can effectively route spam messages to the Spam folder.  It can adapt itself to your email as you correct any mistakes it may make.

 

Limitations: Bayesian filters that are improperly trained can be inaccurate.  It can also take up to a few weeks for Bayesian filters to become fully trained.  It is recommended that you closely monitor Spam Bully during the first few weeks of operation to make sure it is categorizing your email properly.

 

Recommendations:  We recommend enabling this filter for almost all users.  Properly trained Bayesian filters can become well over 99% accurate in most cases.  One other recommendation we have is to NOT delete your old spam messages.  If you ever need to retrain your Bayesian filter, your old spam messages are a goldmine of knowledge to build your Bayesian filter from and can help make your filter even more accurate.

 

 

Block Languages:

 

Effectiveness: Medium-High

 

Advantages:  Will block messages with character sets from languages that you do not know.  For instance, if you don't speak Chinese and do not exchange email with anyone from China, it may be beneficial to block messages that use Chinese character sets, since these would most likely only come from spammers in your particular case.

 

Limitations:  Is not very effective if you email with people from many countries even if they use English to converse with you as they may make use of these character sets. However, if they are in your Friends list they will bypass this filter.

 

Recommendations:  We recommend enabling this for most users.  Be careful not to block the Unicode and some of the other listed character sets as these are usually very widely used character sets.

 

 

Block Countries:

 

Effectiveness: Medium-High

 

Advantages:  Will block messages from countries that you do not exchange email with.  For instance, if you do not exchange email with anyone from China,  it may be beneficial to block messages that originate in China, since these would most likely only come from spammers in your particular case.

 

Limitations:  Can be inaccurate in some circumstances if a site you deal with has their mail server in a different country.

 

Recommendations:  We recommend enabling this for most users.

 

 

Bounce

 

Effectiveness: Low

 

Advantages: Bounce is one of the only methods to actually lower the physical amount of spam you receive.

 

How does it work:  When a message is bounced spammers who receive a bounce may remove your email address from their spam lists.  It is most effective against the semi legitimate spammers who real email addresses or domain names which will be more likely to receive a bounce message.

 

Limitations: Bouncing all your messages is labor intensive, it requires you to review and bounce the spam messages you receive.  It is ineffective against most spammers as they do not use legitimate return email addresses, so they will never receive the bounces.  It also uses extra bandwidth to send and retrieve the bounce messages.

 

Recommendations:  Bouncing is most effective for users with light amounts of spam messages.  If you receive 10-20 spam messages or less a day, this may be an effective part of your spam solution.  For higher levels of spam, generally the effort required to bounce every message is not worth the few lists you may be removed from.  It is more effective to concentrate your efforts on keeping your Bayesian spam filters properly trained.

 

 

Challenge Email: (Outlook Only)

 

Effectiveness: Medium

 

Advantages: Can almost completely eliminate spam.

 

How it works: Is an email that is sent to an unknown user that has passed through the Bayesian filter but is not yet in your Friends list.  This email email asks them to confirm they are a valid user by typing in a password from the challenge email.  

 

Limitations:  Can increase false positives significantly.  It can also cause problems with net-etiquette.  It is generally not polite and can also be considered unprofessional if using this method with business email accounts.  DO NOT USE this feature if you belong to newsletters or group discussions where you participate with other users.  This can cause a challenge email to be sent to all users participating in a newsletter and this type of internet behavior is unacceptable.

 

Recommendations:  We only recommend enabling this if the current filter methods are not effective and you do not belong to any group style participation newsletters.  Please remember that not all users receiving these notices will respond even if they are good users.  Also, all email receipts for goods and services you may have purchased will be blocked when using this feature.

 

 

Check IE Favorites:

 

Effectiveness: Medium

 

Advantages:  Reduces the amount of false positives from the spam filter.

 

How it works: Will automatically allow emails from domains that appear in your Internet Explorer Favorites list.  However, if at least one email address from one of these domains has been added to your spammers list, the domain will not be allowed to bypass the filter.  This helps to prevent common domains which are used by spammers, to not bypass the filter once an email address has been added to the spammers list.

 

Limitations:  Can increase the amount of spam messages slightly particularly when first starting to use this filter option.

 

Recommendations:  We recommend enabling this option if you are seeing too many false positives.  It will cause an initial increase in spam initially until users from common domains are added to your Spammers list.  These common domains will then no longer be able to use this filter bypass feature.

 

 

Check IE History:

 

Effectiveness: Medium

 

Advantages:  Reduces the amount of false positives from the spam filter.

 

How it works: Will automatically allow emails from domains that appear in your Internet Explorer History list.  However, if at least one email address from one of these domains has been added to your spammers list, the domain will not be allowed to bypass the filter.  This helps to prevent common domains which are used by spammers, to not bypass the filter once an email address has been added to the spammers list.

 

Limitations:  Can increase the amount of spam messages slightly particularly when first starting to use this filter option.

 

Recommendations:  We recommend enabling this option if you are seeing too many false positives.  It will cause an initial increase in spam initially until users from common domains are added to your spammers list.  Then these common domains will no longer be able to use this filter bypass feature.

 

 

Contacts List:

 

Effectiveness: High

 

Advantages: Significantly reduces false positives. (False positives are good emails that are improperly categorized as spam.)

 

How does it work:  Any email message coming from a user in your Address book/Contacts folder is allowed to completely bypass all other filters.  It is automatically allowed through and into your Inbox.

 

Limitations: Contacts may still occasionally send chain letters and other messages you may not want to read. 

 

Recommendations: The Contacts folder/Address book should be enabled for almost every user.  There is virtually no downside and you can rest easy that once a user is on your friends list any email from that user will not be accidentally misclassified as spam.  We highly recommend leaving this option turned on.

 

 

 Friends List:

 

Effectiveness: High

 

Advantages: Significantly reduces false positives. (False positives are good emails that are improperly categorized as spam.)

 

How does it work:  Any email message coming from a user in your Friends list is allowed to completely bypass all other filters.  It is automatically allowed through and into your Inbox.

 

Limitations: Friends may still occasionally send chain letters and other messages you may not want to read. 

 

Recommendations: The Friends list should be enabled for almost every user.  There is virtually no downside and you can rest easy that once a user is on your Friends list any email from that user will not be accidentally misclassified as spam.  We highly recommend leaving this option turned on.

 

 

Punish

 

Effectiveness: Low

 

Advantages:  Potential of increasing a spammers cost of sending spam.

 

Limitations: It is possible that the spammer will think the hits are legitimate and if the spammer has user level tracking in the links it could make the spammer think he has a person interested in their spam message which could ultimately lead to more spam messages. 

 

How does it work:  Punish loads the web pages in a spam email message a certain number of times.  Since nothing is being bought from these visits it could minimally increase the bandwidth costs to the spammer without any increase in revenue.

  

RBL Sites:

 

Effectiveness: Medium

 

Advantages:  Can block messages coming from known servers that transmit spam. 

 

How it works:  There are lists available on the internet that list open relay servers.  These types of servers allow any user to send messages through them.  It is highly likely that spammers will send messages through these servers and most email coming from this server is spam.

 

Limitations: There have been several cases of legitimate email servers being added to these lists and some of these servers also pass legitimate email messages.  So there is a chance that a message you want to receive could be blocked by these RBL lists. Using this filter can slow down Spam Bully processing as it must check each message IP address at several remote servers.

 

Recommendations:  If you are having a problem with too many spam messages passing through the filter and you have a high speed internet connection, you can enable this filter to help capture more spam.  If you have a slow connection, you can test it for speed and effectiveness at reducing your spam.

 

 

Spammers List:

 

Effectiveness: Medium

 

Advantages:  The Spammers list is effective especially for spam messages that are misclassified as good.  This helps to make sure any messages in the future will be considered spam from this user.  It can also help to eliminate newsletter type messages from business sites where you may have inadvertently been subscribed to advertising when purchasing a product from them.

 

Limitations:  It is not good to add every spam message address to the Spammers list as this could slow down message processing.

 

Recommendations:  Use the Spammers list as a way to correct the filter when it makes a mistake.  If you hit the Spam button a user will automatically be added to this list.  Used in this way we recommend it be turned on for almost all users.

  

 


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http://www.spambully.com/sb2help/index.php?page=index_v2&id=41&c=5



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