The University of MichiganNews Services
The University Record Online
Updated 10:00 AM March 14, 2005




view events

submit events

UM employment

police beat
regents round-up
research reporter


Advertise with Record

contact us
meet the staff
contact us
contact us
Think inside the 'SpamBox' to reduce unwanted e-mail

The University Spam Busters—a.k.a. the staff at Information Technology Central Services (ITCS)—have a new tool to help fend off unwanted e-mail. SpamBox, an anti-spam service now available to the campus community, offers another level of protection for users of ITCS e-mail.

Last month, ITCS announced the availability of an opt-in Do Not Spam List that protects users from receiving e-mail from known spam sources. Many spammers, however, work hard to conceal their identities and to avoid appearing on such lists. SpamBox looks beyond the address the mail comes from to the actual content of each incoming message, says Kitty Bridges, associate vice president for ITCS. Users can turn SpamBox on or off for their incoming e-mail.

If SpamBox is turned on, it examines each incoming message by breaking it into small character strings called tokens. It then uses a combination of statistical algorithms to compare the tokens against its reference tokens, and computes the probability that the message is spam. SpamBox puts a tag in the header indicating whether each message appears to be spam or not. The spam messages then are filtered into a SpamBox folder.

The program is fairly accurate in identifying spam e-mail but no content-filtering tool is right all the time. On occasion, an "innocent" message will end up in the SpamBox folder. Bridges says users are encouraged to check their folders frequently to make sure desired e-mail messages haven't been misidentified as unwanted spam. Users also need to delete the spam messages from that folder after checking.

Bridges says SpamBox is another step forward in protecting campus users from unwanted e-mail, but it may not be the last.

"We have an evaluation team that is looking at anti-spam and anti-virus software right now," she says. "Because the spam business changes so rapidly, we always will be evaluating whether the current programs meet the needs of campus."

To turn on the SpamBox content-filtering service for your e-mail, go to the Spam Busters Tools page,

More Stories