2016 Year in Review

2016 Year in ReviewWell, another year is almost over, but over the past year, we’ve managed to pack in lots of new features and enhancements to our products, and thanks to people like you sharing your ideas with us via the Alt-N Idea Engine, or on our community forums, our development staff can have a direct dialog with customers.  For 2016, we’ve added the following new features to MDaemon:

  • Two-factor authentication – Requires users to provide a verification code in addition to the username and password.
  • Spambot detection – When multiple messages claiming to come from the same sender are received from multiple IP addresses, a spambot is often the culprit. This feature helps keep those pesky Spambots from sending mail to your server.
  • XML API for complimentary applications – Allows third-party developers to integrate complimentary applications (such as CPanel, etc.) with MDaemon.
  • CardDAV support – Allows users to synchronize their contacts with their favorite mobile device or other mail client.
  • ActiveSync migration client – The ActiveSync migration client makes it easy to import data over from any other mail server that supports ActiveSync protocol version 14.1.
  • Third-party chat (XMPP) client – Users now have more options for chatting with their colleagues. In addition to the standard WorldClient Instant Messenger, users can now chat with their favorite XMPP client from their desktop or even their mobile device!
  • Automatic updates – With automatic updates, the administrator no longer has to manually check for new versions and install them. The automatic update feature will notify the postmaster when a new version is available. Updates can be automatically downloaded and installed at a designated time.
  • Centralized management of Outlook Connector settings – Outlook Connector settings can now be pushed out to users. All that’s needed is the email address and password. No more guessing at what to put in the other fields! We’ve updated our Outlook Connector Quick-Start guide to help you get started with this new functionality.

We also released SecurityGateway 4, which includes the following new features:

  • Enhanced anti-spoofing support with DMARC – DMARC allows domain owners to specify what actions to take for messages that don’t align with DKIM or SPF. This helps take out the guesswork on how to handle messages that may be spoofed.
  • Improved user interface for mobile devices – SecurityGateway’s web interface now scales to fit any screen size, so whether you’re using a mobile device or a PC, you’ll see a friendly, responsive interface that has been designed for the screen size you are using.
  • Send mail from each domain’s IP address – When you have more than one IP address on your server, each domain can be bound to a specific IP address. Mail from the domain will be sent from its assigned IP address.

We launched our blog over three years ago to provide another communication channel for our customers, to keep people updated on the latest email industry and security news, tips, product releases, and more. For 2016, we’ve compiled a list of the ten blog posts that generated the most interest. With email security featured prominently in the news over the last year, it comes as no surprise that the topics that generated the most interest revolve around email security and privacy.

Here are the top ten blog posts from 2016:

  1. SSL & TLS Best Practices
  2. New MDaemon Feature Helps Detect Spambots
  3. MDaemon 16.5, with Automatic Updates, WorldClient Categories, & More!
  4. Encrypting vs. Signing with OpenPGP – What’s the Difference?
  5. Encryption Options for Keeping your Private Email Messages Safe
  6. Teach Your Inbox to Recognize Spam
  7. Access your Outlook contacts from Anywhere by Importing them into WorldClient
  8. MDaemon 16 = 2016
  9. Why Passwords May Not Keep your Email Safe
  10. 10 Ways to Reduce Spam in your Inbox

Need a quick video lesson on a particular feature? This year, we also added all of our eLearning videos for MDaemon and SecurityGateway to our YouTube channel.

While 2016 is almost over, our development staff is already hard at work to bring you new & exciting features for 2017, so check back often for the latest updates!

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Are You Suffering from Inbox Overload?

Too_Much_Mail

Are you suffering from Inbox Overload? Do you spend too much time trying to keep your inbox under control without losing productivity? Do you find yourself checking your work email well into the evening, or checking personal email during business hours? In today’s always-on, always-connected society, many people struggle with work-life balance. With email being such a ubiquitous communication tool, it is more important than ever to keep the clutter out of your inbox, and to reduce your time spent dealing with email.   These tips can help you keep your inbox organized & free up time that you would have spent managing your email for other, more productive or rewarding tasks.

Keep spam under control

Know how to identify phishing and scams and don’t respond to them
Phishing scams often have the following characteristics:

  • Links in the email asking you to enter your personal information on an online form
  • Threats such as “If you do not fill out the attached form, your account will be deleted.”
  • Spelling and grammar errors
  • Links to malicious sites. It is good practice to hover your mouse over a link in an email before you decide to click on it. Often, phishing emails will show a link to a well-known URL, such as www.amazon.com, but when you hover your mouse over it, the real address that the link points to is a site containing malware, so know how to spot these links & if you are unsure about a link’s legitimacy, do not click on it.
  • Official-looking company logos and graphics. It’s very easy to create a malicious website that looks identical to a legitimate website. When in doubt, never click on an image or link in an email message. Open your browser and manually type in the company’s URL.

Use the Bayesian Learning Feature (Don’t just Delete It)
Spam messages that find their way into your inbox  can be fed into MDaemon’s Bayesian Learning system so that MDaemon’s spam filter can become more accurate over time.  The Bayesian classification system is enabled via Security | Spam Filter |Bayesian Classification in MDaemon.  Make sure the first box “Enable Bayesian Classification” is checked. On the bottom of that screen, you will see the paths to the Bayesian spam and non-spam folders. In WorldClient, a user will see two buttons (a thumbs-up & a thumbs-down button). When that user has been given proper rights to view the Bayesian Learning folders, he or she will be able to mark message as spam or non-spam using these buttons in WorldClient.  More information can be found in the following knowledge base article:

Training the Bayesian Learning Process in MDaemon Pro

Use Extra Email Addresses for Specific Purposes
Do you give the same email address to your friends, family, sales associates, or to just about anyone else who asks for it? If so, then you’re probably getting more spam than you would like. A good practice is to have an email address that you give to friends & family, one for business, and one that you would use for shopping,  or for signing up for mailing lists or newsletters.

Take Action Immediately

When you receive a new email message, it’s good practice to take action on it immediately. A popular method for this is to use the four D’s: delete it immediately, do it (if it can be done in less than two minutes), delegate it (forward it) or defer it (if it will take longer than two minutes). You may also want to archive it or set a reminder to look at it later. You can also file it into another folder (see Create & Use Folders later in this article).

Unsubscribe from Newsletters You No Longer Need

Are you still receiving newsletters from something you signed up for three years ago? If they are no longer relevant or you are no longer interested, you should be able to unsubscribe from them. Newsletters from reputable sources will often include instructions on how to unsubscribe.

Don’t Abuse the “Reply all” Feature

If you received an email addressed to multiple recipients, and you need to reply to the sender, be careful with the “Reply all” feature. If you only need to reply to the message sender, then reply directly & help keep unwanted mail out of others’ inboxes.

Stop Forwarding from Old Accounts

When someone changes his or her email address, it is common practice to forward all mail from the old address to the new one – at least until all parties involved have been made aware of the new email address. Often, forwarding will be left active on the old account indefinitely. Over time, once all parties involved have been made aware of the new address, the only mail still being forwarded from the old address tends to be spam or perhaps old newsletters.  At this point, it is safe to turn off forwarding from this account (or delete the account entirely).

Mask Your Email Address on Public Sites

Spam robots are constantly crawling thousands of sites, looking for email addresses they can harvest for their next spam campaign. Some of the most common places these spam crawlers look for email addresses are blogs, message boards, forums, and guest books. If you must post your email address on these sites, consider replacing the @ symbol with <at> and the .com with (dot)com. For example: <frank.thomas>(at)<example> (dot) <com>.

Create & Use Folders

In time, your inbox can become cluttered with all types of email messages. One way to stay organized is to create multiple email folders and label them so that you can categorize your messages for easy retrieval. In WorldClient, you can easily create mail folders (or folders of any other type) via the Options menu.

Use Rules or Filters

You can also create rules to automatically filter messages that meet certain criteria into your other mail folders. In WorldClient, these filters can be created via the Options | Filters menu. For example, I have a special folder created for a particular newsletter that I’m subscribed to. I use the filter to automatically place those messages into the designated folder. Not only does this keep me more organized, but it also keeps me from getting a “New Email” notification for these messages since they aren’t going directly into my Inbox. Fewer notifications = fewer interruptions = greater productivity.

Keep Inbox Message Count to a Minimum

When you check your email, decide what you want to do with any new messages that arrive (see Take Action Immediately above). By acting immediately, you will keep your inbox at a reasonable size. Inbox Zero is a technique many people use to keep their inboxes down to a manageable size. You can learn more about Inbox Zero in this blog post.

Send & Receive Less Frequently

In today’s face-paced business environment, it’s quite easy to get distracted with phone calls, emails, meetings, and other distractions. If your mail client is notifying you every three minutes that you have an email message waiting, you may be tempted to click on it every time. Ask yourself: Does this have to be tended to at this very moment? You might try configuring your mail client to check for new mail every 15 minutes instead of every three minutes. If a matter must be addressed in less than 15 minutes, then it may be better to meet in person or over the phone.

These are just a few tips to help keep your Inbox under control. With these practices, your inbox will be better organized, you’ll receive less junk email, and you’ll be spending less time dealing with email & more time doing what you’d rather be doing – being productive.

Do you have other Inbox Management tips? Share them with us via the Comments section below!

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Beware of New Amazon.com Phishing Scam

Scam AlertThe holidays are upon us, and with all of the giving and sharing come scams aimed at exploiting human nature and stealing our personal information, such as names, addresses and credit card numbers. This year, the scammers are at it again, with a phishing scam designed to look like an email from Amazon.com claiming that there is a problem processing your order. The scam asks you to click on a link to verify your personal information. A good example of this scam email is described on the AARP blog.

As a reminder, here are a few tips to avoid falling victim to phishing scams.

  • Never click on unfamiliar or suspicious links. If a link claims to refer to a familiar website, then manually enter the web address in the address bar.
  • Hover your mouse over images & links to review the URL they refer to.
  • Beware of “Unsubscribe” links in phishing emails. When clicked, these links can let the spammer know that your address is valid, which often leads to more spam.
  • Never reply to spam or unsolicited messages.

For more tips on how to avoid these & other scams, click here to review our post on protecting your email privacy, and stay safe this holiday season!

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Outlook Connector Performance Tips

With the recent release of Outlook Connector 4.0, I wanted to review with you some guidelines for improving the performance of Outlook Connector. Outlook’s performance is affected by many things, including the amount of data it has to keep track of, any add-ons that are installed, how often it checks for new mail, and various other factors. The following guidelines will help ensure you get the best performance out of Outlook when using Outlook Connector.

  1. With each new version of Outlook Connector, various performance enhancements are made, thus, we recommend using the latest version of Outlook Connector on the MDaemon server and the latest Outlook Connector plug-in on each client. On the MDaemon server, you can check the version of Outlook Connector that’s installed by navigating to Help – View the release notes for your version of Outlook Connector. Users can verify their version of the Outlook Connector plug-in by clicking on the “About” tab on the Outlook Connector toolbar in Outlook. Click here to download the latest version of Outlook Connector. On this page, click on the “Download Now” button to download Outlook Connector on the server. There are also links to download the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the Outlook Connector client.
  2. We recommend using Outlook Connector with MDaemon 14 and above. Newer versions of MDaemon also have various performance enhancements. You can get the latest version of MDaemon here.
  3. We recommend disabling all Outlook Add-ins except the Outlook Connector plug-in. In Outlook 2016, 2013 & 2010, add-ins are located under File – Add-ins. In Outlook 2007, they’re located under Tools – Trust Center – Add-ins.
  4. Regular defragmentation of the MDaemon server’s hard disk is recommended. Server performance can be further improved by reducing the amount of logging MDaemon is doing (Setup – Server Settings – Logging – Settings) along with moving the Logs folder and User, Public and Queues folders to a physically separate disk. When moving logs, queues, or public folders to a separate drive, simply map a drive letter to the drive, then update the Directories section of the MDaemon.lni file (located in the MDaemon/App directory) with the new path to these directories.

    MDaemon directories
    Where MDaemon stores mail, queues, logs, etc.
  5. We recommend periodically purging and compacting the Outlook Connector database file (local cache). Follow these steps to compact the local cache file:
    1. Make sure Outlook is shut down, and navigate to the Windows control panel.
    2. Click on the Mail control panel.
    3. Click on Email Accounts.
    4. Double-click on your Outlook Connector account.
    5. Click on the Database Management tab.
    6. Locate the Purge Database section and click on the Purge button.
    7. Locate the Compact Database section, and click on the Compact button. You can also check “Compact database on Outlook shutdown” to compact the database each time Outlook is shut down.

      Outlook Connector Database Managemen
      Outlook Connector Database Managemen
  6. The local Outlook Connector cache file should be excluded from real-time scanning by third party desktop antivirus applications. By default, the local Outlook Connector cache is located at C:/Documents and Settings/-username-/Application Data/Alt-N/ Outlook Connector 4.x/ProfileName/account-name/User’sEmail@YourCompany.com.
  7. Outlook should only be configured to use HTML or Plain Text format for sending emails. Depending on the version of Outlook you are using, these settings can usually be found via Tools – Options – Mail Format tab. Outlook should not be configured to use Word as its email editor or to use Rich Text Format (RTF). Both of these methods result in emails which do not adhere to Internet standards.
  8. We recommend configuring Outlook Connector’s Send/Receive tab (located under the Account button in the Outlook Connector toolbar) to only check the Inbox folder for new items at each Outlook send/receive interval.
  9. Outlook Connector includes the option “Download Headers Only” under the Send/Receive tab of the Outlook Connector Client configuration screen. When this option is enabled, Outlook only downloads the information needed to show messages in the message list, and not the full content of each message. When you click on a message, the rest of the message is downloaded for viewing. Users may experience a slight delay in viewing messages in the preview pane when “Download Headers Only” is enabled because Outlook has to download the rest of the message when it is selected.
  10. We recommend configuring the Send/Receive schedule to check for new mail every 3 minutes.
  11. We recommend performing these housekeeping tasks regularly:
    1. Delete any email messages, calendar items, and contacts that are no longer needed.
    2. Empty the Deleted Items folder by right-clicking it and selecting Empty Folder.
    3. Delete unwanted items from the Sent Items folder.
    4. Move items out of the Inbox to other mail folders.
    5. Archive old messages. Mail server administrators can implement a server-wide archiving solution such as MailStore to help cut down on the amount of data stored in user mailboxes.

Following these guidelines will help ensure that Outlook Connector continues to run smoothly. For more information, please see our Outlook Connector how-to guides. As always, I’m available if you have questions!

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MailStore 10 – With Full Encryption, Automatic Updates, and More!

MailStore UpdateOur friends at MailStore have been hard at work to make their email archiving solution more secure while providing more flexible administrative features.  With the release of MailStore version 10, users and administrators benefit from the following improvements.

Keeping Archive Data Safe & Secure

Full Encryption of Database & Audit Logs

MailStore has always stored archived email in encrypted format, but now, they take encryption a step further by encrypting the internal databases and audit logs. Now, in addition to the messages themselves being encrypted, metadata such as message subjects, senders, and recipients are also encrypted, as well as the archive folder structure.

Restricted archive access for administrators

By default, MailStore administrators will no longer be able to browse, search, or export email of other MailStore users as long as the compliance setting “Archive Access” (formerly known as E-mail preview) is set to “Block Access.”

Extra Cloud Backup Protection

MailStore now allows you to use a specific recovery key to prevent archive data from being accessed from other systems by unauthorized users. This is useful in situations where cloud storage backup locations are used.

Making Life Easier for Administrators

Automatic Updates with Email Notifications

MailStore now includes an automatic-update feature that notifies the administrator when a new version is available. This helps to ensure that you can always benefit from the latest feature set.

Flexible Storage Location Options

Administrators now have more options when configuring archive stores. Each component of an archive (email content, search indexes, databases) can now have its own storage location.

Many Other Improvements

These are just the highlights of MailStore’s new features. To benefit from all of its new features and enhancements, download MailStore 10 today!

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Our eLearning Videos are Now Available on YouTube!

eLearningWould you like to brush up on your MDaemon or SecurityGateway skills? Well now you can, for free, on our YouTube channel! Topics for each course include:

MDaemon

  • Getting Started
  • Domain & Server Settings
  • Managing Accounts
  • Mailing Lists
  • Gateway Configuration
  • Security Settings
  • OpenPGP Encryption
  • WorldClient
  • Spam Filter Configuration
  • Mobile Device Management

SecurityGateway

  • Getting Started
  • Configuring Domains & Users
  • Mail Delivery & Filtering Settings
  • Spam Filter Configuration
  • Anti-Spoofing Tools
  • Anti-Abuse Tools
  • Server Maintenance

Click here to access the SecurityGateway tutorials.
Click here to access the MDaemon tutorials.

In the coming weeks, I will be updating these videos & adding new topics, so check back often for the latest eLearning lessons!

 

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Are you doing enough to protect your email privacy?

Email PrivacyFor many of us, email has become our primary method of communication in both our business and personal lives. An email address, however, is often used for many more purposes than simply sending electronic messages. Many of us use our email address to log into social networking sites, utility and credit card sites, banking sites, and much more.

Your email account is often the gateway to your personal life, and thus, is a valuable target for hackers. John McAfee said, “Email accounts are the fundamental identifying elements of the internet. The assumption is that if a person has access to an email account then that is the real person. Yet these accounts are the easiest elements of the digital world to hack into.” According to a recent ZDNet study, with a single phishing email, about 45% of all recipients submitted their full login credentials. Another study by Intel found that 97% of all computer users could not identify all 10 out of 10 phishing emails.

Hackers have a variety of tools at their disposal, from sophisticated spear-phishing to malicious documents to social engineering tricks, so are you doing enough to protect your email privacy?

Follow these 8 best practices to help ensure that your email communications are kept private.

Use strong passwords

A strong password that is not easily guessed should contain a combination of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. Never use a password that can be easily guessed, and never use any of the passwords listed on the “most popular and therefore worst” passwords list. MDaemon includes tools that allow administrators to enforce strong password policies. See this blog post for more information.

Spammers know that many people use the same password across multiple sites and services. Therefore, you should be using a different password for each site.

Never click on suspicious links

Spammers have gotten very creative at making spam email messages look legitimate, using HTML and images that, when clicked, lead to fake websites designed to collect your personal information or to deliver malware, including keyloggers designed to capture everything you type, and ransomware, therefore, never click on links in an email message unless you’re absolutely sure you have verified and trust the sender.

Many phishing messages contain images such as logos that look legitimate, but, when clicked, lead to malicious sites. If you hover your mouse over a link, you can often see the destination URL, which often does not match the word or image associated with it.

If you see an “unsubscribe” link, don’t click on it! This would only serve to let the spammer know your address is valid and, more importantly, these links are easily forged and could lead to malware infections.

If you are prompted to click on a link that appears to point to a legitimate site that you know and trust, it is better to manually type the URL into your browser than to click on a link that has not been verified.

Never reply to spam or unsolicited email messages

Spam can be a very annoying nuisance, so as humans, we may let our emotions get the best of us and reply to a spam message with “Please take me off your email list” or “Quit spamming me!” There are two problems with replying to spam. First, many spam messages come from forged addresses, so the spammer is unlikely to receive your message. Second, replying can let the spammer know your address is legitimate, which may lead to even more spam.

Don’t post your email address in blog posts, online comments, or social media

Scammers often scrub social media sites for email address that they can exploit, so if you must post an email address to one of these sites, mask the address by adding spaces or spelling out (at) instead of using the @ symbol.

Use Encryption

Email messages, by default, are transmitted in plain-text. This can potentially open them up to interception by a nefarious third-party. While SSL & TLS are used to encrypt the connection between mail clients and mail servers, it is good practice to encrypt the email message itself. Encryption protects sensitive data by converting plain-text to cipher text. This cipher text can only be decrypted using the proper private encryption key.

MDaemon has options for encrypting connections using SSL & TLS, as well as server-side and client-side encryption options using Virtru and OpenPGP. A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post about these options. Click here to read about MDaemon’s encryption options.

Use Two-Factor Authentication

Passwords alone are often not enough to protect your data against increasingly sophisticated attacks. With two-factor authentication, users must provide a password and a unique verification code that is obtained via a client that supports Google Authenticator (available in the Google Play store). This blog post contains more information on how to use two-factor authentication with MDaemon and WorldClient.

Know the risks of using public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi provides a convenient way to access the internet while on the go, but if you’re not careful, it may come at a great price. Unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots are prime targets for hackers, who are often able to position themselves between you and the internet connection, allowing them to intercept every bit of information you transmit. Hackers can also use unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots to distribute malware. If you have file sharing enabled, you are especially vulnerable.  To reduce risk, make sure any Wi-Fi hotspot you connect to is secured and from a reputable source that you trust. If you must connect to a public hotspot, it is good practice to use a VPN to ensure that transmitted data is encrypted.

Lock your computer when away from your desk

This may sound like a given, but an unattended computer that has not been locked allows anyone access to your information.  You might not consider this a big issue if you work for a small business, but if you work in an industry with privacy regulations, such as health care or financial institutions, or if you store sensitive company information such as revenue or other confidential information, leaving your computer unlocked could have serious consequences, including loss of job, damaged company reputation, or even legal problems.

Conclusion

Whether your primary interest is protecting company information or your own personal data, email privacy is everyone’s responsibility, and often, the weakest point of entry into a treasure trove of sensitive data is a negligent or uninformed user. Don’t let that user be you. Use these tips to stay ahead of the bad guys!

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Teach SecurityGateway to Recognize Spam

Recently, I wrote a post about teaching your MDaemon Inbox to recognize spam using the Bayesian learning feature. This feature helps to train the spam filter to be more accurate over time by feeding it samples of spam and non-spam messages. SecurityGateway also includes Bayesian learning features (in addition to many other security features designed to keep spam, viruses, malware and phishing attacks from hitting your mail server). Today, I’ll be explaining how to use these features to teach SecurityGateway how to get better at recognizing spam (false negatives – spam messages that were not filtered out) and non-spam (false positives – legitimate messages that were marked as spam).

Administrator Instructions

Administrators must first enable and configure Bayesian learning in SecurityGateway before users will be able to use it. Follow these steps to enable and configure Bayesian learning.

  1. Click on the Security tab, and then click on Heuristics & Bayesian under the Anti-Spam section.
  2. Make sure the first box, “Use heuristic rules and Bayesian classification to analyze messages” is checked. This setting basically turns the spam filter on and is enabled by default.
  3. Under “Location (all domains),” click on the link to configure SGSpamD. You can optionally select a domain in the drop-down menu at the top to configure these settings for a specific domain.

    Enable SGSpamD
    Enable SGSpamD
  4. Under the “Bayesian Classification” section, check the first box to enable Bayesian classification.

    Enable Bayesian Classification
    Enable Bayesian Classification
  5. By default, 200 samples of spam and 200 samples of non-spam are needed before Bayesian learning can take place. You can adjust this number in the blanks provided, but in most cases, this will not be necessary.
  6. By default, Bayesian learning takes place at midnight each night. You can select the second option under the “Bayesian Learning” section if you’d like to schedule Bayesian learning more frequently, at regular intervals. This is useful if you have a larger number of messages to learn from. You can also select the third option if you do not want Bayesian learning to run automatically based on a schedule. When this option is selected, you can use the link at the bottom of the Bayesian Learning section to perform Bayesian learning as needed.

    Bayes Schedule
    Bayes Schedule
  7. SecurityGateway needs to know where to find messages to be fed to the Bayesian learning engine. By default, messages are  placed inside the C:/Program Files/Alt-N technologies/SecurityGateway/BayesSpam and BayesHam directories. You can optionally use a different path mapped to a different drive to improve performance.

    Known Spam Directory
    Known Spam Directory
  8. In the following two blanks, enter the Spam and Non-Spam forwarding addresses. The default addresses are spamlearn and hamlearn, so if your domain is example.com, users can forward spam messages (as an attachment) to spamlearn@example.com to feed these messages to the Bayesian learning engine. This procedure is explained in greater detail later when we discuss how end users can submit spam and non-spam messages to the Bayesian learning engine.

    Spam Forwarding Addresses
    Spam Forwarding Addresses
  9. Most spam messages are relatively small, thus, you can place a size limit on messages to learn from by checking the box “Don’t learn from messages larger than” and entering a value (in bytes) in the blank blow. Placing a size limit on messages to learn from helps improve the performance of the Bayesian learning engine.

    Bayes Size Limit
    Bayes Size Limit
  10. You can automate the Bayesian learning process by enabling Automatic Bayesian Learning. By default, messages that score less than 0.1 are considered to be legitimate and only messages that score a 12.0 or above are considered to be spam for purposes of automatic Bayesian learning. Before enabling automatic Bayesian learning, I would recommend reviewing your message logs for false negatives and false positives and use their spam scores as guidelines for populating the spam and non-spam scoring thresholds. You can also optionally check the boxes to only learn non-spam messages from domain mail servers and authenticated sessions, and only learn spam from inbound messages.

    Bayes Automatic Learning
    Bayes Automatic Learning
  11. Before I explain the next setting, I want to explain the concept of “tokens.” When the Bayesian learning feature “learns” from a message, it takes snippets of information from the message, such as words or phrases, and uses this information to create tokens. These tokens are accumulated and when a new message is scanned by Bayesian learning, its contents are compared to these tokens to look for similarities. Under the Bayesian Database section, check the box to enable Bayesian automatic token expiration. This helps to limit the token database to a manageable size, expiring old tokens and replacing them with new ones when the maximum number of Bayesian database tokens (specified in the blank below) has been reached. When this number of tokens is reached, the Bayesian system removes the oldest, reducing the number to 75% of this value or 100,000 tokens, whichever is higher. 150,000 tokens make up about 8MB of data.
  12. Click Save and Close to save your changes.

End User Instructions

Now that SecurityGateway has been configured properly on the server, users can start feeding samples of spam and non-spam to the Bayesian learning engine.

There are two methods users can use to submit samples of spam and non-spam to the Bayesian learning engine in SecurityGateway. The first (and easier) way is to use the thumbs-up and thumbs-down icons in the SecurityGateway interface. The second way is by forwarding spam and non-spam messages (as attachments) to designated email addresses.

To mark messages as spam or non-spam using the SecurityGateway interface, follow these steps:

  1. Log into SecurityGateway.
  2. Click on My Message Log. This brings up a list of all of your inbound and outbound messages.
  3. Click on the message you wish to mark as spam or non-spam, and then click on the Thumbs-up button to mark the message as non-spam, or the thumbs-down button to mark the message as spam.
    Mark Message as Spam
    Mark Message as Spam

    You will receive confirmation that the message was marked as spam.

    Marked as Spam Confirmation
    Marked as Spam Confirmation

To feed messages to the Bayesian learning engine by forwarding them as attachments, simply attach the message to an email addressed to the designated hamlearn@ or spamlearn@ address for your domain (example: spamlearn@example.com). Note: SMTP authentication must be used.

If you are using WorldClient, you can right-click on the message and select “Forward as Attachment.” Then, populate the To: field with the spamlearn@ or hamlearn@ address and simply send the message.

Forward as Attachment
Forward as Attachment

When used properly, Bayesian Learning is a powerful tool for reducing spam and ensuring legitimate messages are not blocked by the spam filter. More information can be found in this knowledge base article.

Don’t let spam ruin your day. These tips can help you keep the bad stuff out of your Inbox so you can focus on your business!

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Teach your Inbox to Recognize Spam

MDaemon has many features for fighting spam that, when configured properly, can be very effective at blocking out unwanted junk email.  However, it is possible for the occasional spam message to slip through. Likewise, it is also possible for the occasional non-spam message to be mistakenly identified as spam and blocked from being delivered. This is especially true if you work in finance or the medical industry, where you are more likely to receive legitimate email messages that contain words often found in spam. This presents a challenge: How can administrators and end users improve the accuracy of the spam filter?

An effective solution to the problem is using Bayesian analysis to help MDaemon “learn” what is & is not spam.

You may be thinking, “So what is Bayesian analysis?” Bayesian analysis is based on Bayesian logic, which is a branch of logic that deals with probability inference – predicting future events based on knowledge of prior events. In the context of spam filtering, MDaemon’s Bayesian Learning feature uses Bayesian logic to make inferences about the probability that a message is spam based on the patterns contained within it and how those patterns compare with the patterns found in messages that have been fed to the Bayesian Learning engine.

Bayesian Learning helps train MDaemon’s spam filter to become more accurate over time by feeding it samples of spam and non-spam messages. This is especially useful for the medical and finance industries, where certain keywords are “spammy” to one industry but not the other. This feature also helps reduce false positives (legitimate messages mistakenly marked as spam) or false negatives (spam messages that were not marked as spam).

So how does Bayesian Learning work & how can users use it to train their inboxes to recognize spam? Keep reading to find out!

How to Use Bayesian Learning – The Short Version

Before we get into the details of how to use MDaemon’s Bayesian Learning features, let’s start with a high-level overview of how to use it. First, the administrator enables Bayesian Learning in MDaemon. Then, the administrator creates the Spam and Non-Spam public folders and grants users Lookup/Insert access rights to those folders. Ham/Spam forwarding addresses can also be enabled, so that messages sent to them as attachments can be fed to the Bayesian Learning engine accordingly. Users who receive false-negatives or false-positives can then feed those messages to the Bayesian Learning engine using various methods. By default, after 200 spam and non-spam messages have been collected, Bayesian Learning takes place & the contents of these messages are added to a database of “tokens.”

Instructions for Administrators

The administrator needs to enable Bayesian Learning in MDaemon, and configure Bayes folder access and optionally configure forwarding addresses, as outlined in the following steps.

  1.  In MDaemon, navigate to Security | Spam Filter, and click on Bayesian Classification in the left-hand navigation menu.

    MDaemon Bayesian Learning
    Bayesian Learning in MDaemon
  2. Check the first box to enable Bayesian classification.
  3. By default, the second box (Schedule Bayesian learning for midnight each night) is checked. If you have a lot of spam/non-spam messages to learn from, you may want to schedule Bayesian learning at more frequent intervals by un-checking this box and entering a value in the following blank (Schedule Bayesian learning once every __ hours).
  4. Most spam messages are relatively small, so to improve performance, you can enter a value in the “Do not learn from messages larger than” blank. 50,000 bytes is the default value.
  5. Before we discuss the checkbox to enable spam/ham forwarding addresses, we need to create public folders for spam and non-spam messages. Click on the Create button to populate these fields with the default location for these folders, or use the buttons to the right to specify a different location. By default, access permission to these folders is only granted to local users of local domains and is limited to Lookup and Insert rights. The postmaster’s default permissions are Lookup, Read, Insert, and Delete. To prevent users from placing spam in the non-spam folder and vice-versa, you could remove access to these folders for all users except the administrator (via Setup | Public Folder Manager), and create another pair of spam/non-spam folders, then grant users Lookup and Insert rights to those folders instead. This allows the administrator to review the contents of these folders for improperly placed messages before placing them in the Bayesian Spam and Non-Spam folders.
  6. You can optionally check the box “Enable spam and ham forwarding addresses.” When this box is checked, users can forward false-negatives or false-positives to spamlearn@yourdomain.com or hamlearn@yourdomain.com to feed these messages to the Bayesian Learning engine. This process is explained in greater detail later in this post.
  7. Users who have been granted Lookup & Insert access rights to the Spam and Non-Spam folders can use the thumbs-up & thumbs-down icons in WorldClient to feed spam (false-negatives) and non-spam (false-positives) to the Bayesian Learning engine. Administrators who wish to remove these icons for all users can edit the MDaemon/WorldClient/Domains.ini file and add the following:
    [Default:UserDefaults]
    DisableSpamButton=Yes
    DisableHamButton=Yes 
    Save the file and restart MDaemon (or IIS, if WorldClient is running on IIS).
  8. Administrators who wish to remove these icons for a specific user can edit the User.ini file for the user (located at MDaemon/Users/example.com/(username)/WC) as follows:
    [User]
    DisableSpamButton=Yes
    DisableHamButton=Yes

Instructions for End Users

Now that Bayesian Learning is properly configured in MDaemon, users can begin feeding the Bayesian Learning engine samples of spam and non-spam messages to train the spam filter to become more accurate. There are various ways to train the Bayesian Learning engine – using the thumbs-up & thumbs-down icons in WorldClient, using drag & drop to drag messages to the Spam and Non-spam folders (when using IMAP or Outlook Connector), or forwarding messages as attachments to the assigned spamlearn@ or hamlearn@ addresses (useful for POP users).

Using WorldClient

The easiest way to train the Bayesian Learning engine is to select “This is Spam” or “This is Not Spam” (in the WorldClient theme) or the thumbs-up and thumbs-down buttons (in the LookOut and WorldClient themes) in WorldClient. Simply click once on it to highlight it, and then select “This is Spam” or click on the thumbs-down icon. If a legitimate, non-spam message was placed in your Spam folder, you can highlight it, and then select “This is Not Spam” or click on the thumbs-up icon.

Mark as Non-Spam
Mark as Non-Spam

Using Drag & Drop (IMAP & Outlook Connector)

IMAP and Outlook Connector users who have been granted Lookup and Insert access rights to the spam and non-spam folders can use drag & drop to move the message to the appropriate spam/non-spam folder.

Forwarding as Attachments (POP3)

POP3 users can forward these messages (as an attachment from an authenticated session) to the spamlearn@ and hamlearn@ addresses. Messages sent to these addresses must be received via SMTP from a session that is authenticated using SMTP AUTH.

Considerations

As explained under step 5 above (under Administrator Instructions), when granting users access to the Bayesian Spam and Non-Spam public folders, it’s possible for users to feed samples of spam and non-spam to the wrong folders, making the Bayesian learning process less effective, thus, you may consider creating a separate pair of Spam/Non-Spam public folders and having users place messages in those folders instead for administrative review.

Conclusion

When used properly, Bayesian Learning is a powerful tool for reducing spam and ensuring legitimate messages are not blocked by the spam filter. More information can be found in the following knowledge base articles:

Bayesian Learning Information:
http://www.altn.com/Support/KnowledgeBase/KnowledgeBaseResults/?Number=227

Training the Bayesian Learning Process in MDaemon:
http://www.altn.com/Support/KnowledgeBase/KnowledgeBaseResults/?Number=378

Bayesian Learning Tips & Tricks:
http://www.altn.com/Support/KnowledgeBase/KnowledgeBaseResults/?Number=379

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Are you taking the security of your email account seriously?

WEmail Securitye begin a series of posts on the importance of email security and why it should be a top priority for organizations. In this post, we share some insights from the founder of Alt-N Technologies, Arvel Hathcock, to get his perspective on security tips for email users.

Most everyone has an email account. Many have more than one. Email is really at the core of online life because it is tied to so many of our online services. Look at your phone. Many of the service apps you see connect with you via your email account. This is why I believe the wide-spread practice of “password reset via email message” or “Forgotten Password” has crowned the email account password the most significant and important of all passwords.

Password Controls in MDaemon
Password Settings in MDaemon

That’s not to say that password management for services like online banking are not critical. They are. But having a strong password for banking and not your email can expose you to some real dangers, as well.   Imagine if a hacker or other bad actor can figure out your email password. One of the first actions they could take is to login and change your password. This locks you out. Next, they check through your inbox and folders looking for anything interesting, such as popular online services or banking portals. Now, they login with your email address and use the “Forgotten Password” feature. Soon an email will show up in your inbox (which is no longer controlled by you) allowing them to verify the change and now another important service is not controlled by you. This email and others like it will allow a hacker to change all of your online passwords – all because they found your email password.

This is not good and it leads me to security tip #1: Put effort into the security of your email account password.

It can be the key to all your other passwords. Also, do not use your email account password with any other online account or service because you do not know and cannot control when it will be that service’s turn to get hacked.

Because of the risk mentioned earlier, I would also recommend users disable “Forgotten Password” features where possible and use an alternative method. As bad as “Forgotten Password” can be to reset access, the Question and Answer options can be risky, too. I was horrified years ago to discover that an online app for a banking chain reset my password using only the “Question and Answer” method – no email at all! You know – the questions some services ask like “What’s your mom’s name?” or “Where did you grow up?” etc. If someone can get the answers right, they can change the password.

This idea assumes that would-be hackers will always be outsiders without access to even basic information about their targets. You should use caution before completely trusting these methods. One trick I recommend is to select the question (it’s usually in a drop-down list) and enter a totally random and completely unpredictable answer (but one that you can remember, of course).

I realize these features exist for convenience but remember that security can be reduced and new attack options exposed by these methods if not managed properly.

 

 

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