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Effective Junk Mail Filtering With Exchange 2003

What is the best way to combat the growing number of junk mail messages received, when using an Exchange 2003 mail server?

The latest Exchange 2003 service pack has been recently applied; however the volume of junk emails being received through to users mailboxes is currently growing. Is there any way of effectively improving the way Exchange filters junk emails, perhaps by either marking emails as junk as and when received at mailbox level ( in a similar manner to when Outlook 2003 is used without Exchange ), changing the filtering level, or indeed manually checking for junk mail filtering updates.

Alternatively is a third party product likely to be more effective, or indeed is the only way forward to consider a different ISP, who provides junk mail filtering prior to emails being received by the Exchange server?  
3 Solutions
The easiest and cheapest way would be to enable IMF that comes with exchange SP2. Start with it and see how it works for you.


You can also use SBL lists. Opinions differ on these, but I use the one from SpamHaus with no problems.


There many 3rd party solutions if you are ready to pay for something. Many people love GFI. I'm using sybari, but they seem to have several technical problems since development has halted after they were acquired by microsoft.

Start with IMF. That can prove to be effective for some sites.
Not a great lover of blacklists as I don't like the idea of someone else deciding what email can be received.
I have good success with greylisting, GFI Mail Essentials and Vamsoft ORF can do Greylisting. (More on greylisting on my blog: http://www.sembee.co.uk/archive/2006/09/18/24.aspx).

If you don't want to spend money on 3rd party tools, then I suggest that you should configure IMF, Sender, Recipient, SPF filtering. Make sure to download and Install Exchange 2003 Service Pack 1 and Service Pack 2, if you have not done so already. The filtering tools available in Exchange 2003 Service Pack 2 are excellent, I feel that 3rd party tools like GFI Mail Essentials, IHATESPAM, Sybari Antigen (now part of Microsoft), Surfcontrol, Barracuda Spam Filter Appliance, MessageLabs (spam filtering Service) are waste of money. Exchange 2003 filtering capabilitites are very effective at significantly reducing UCE. Unfortunately, many Exchange Administrators and consultants don't bother to configure them, don't know how to, do not want to configure them because they have a vested interest in seeing the company spend more money on buying additional software and consultant services. Instead they feel that they need to go out and buy third party addon software, or appliances (barracuda) or services (MessageLabs). Another thing you should do is to educate your users about how to avoid spam. And should also avoid using simple usernames, like firstnames. Company policy should be implemented regarding the use of e-mail accounts.

I suggest that you should look into articles available at Daniel Petri's website, and also MSExchange.org website.

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