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Spam Filtering - Appliance vs. Filtering Service

Posted on 2006-10-23
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Last Modified: 2008-06-20
I wanted to ask the community about their opinions of spam appliances like Barracuda's firewall vs.hosted services such as Postini.  We have been using Barracuda for a few years and we're at a point where we are re-evaluating the solution to see if we should upgrade or shift.  What in your eyes, are some of the more note-worthy differences?  I understand how they both work, but can't seem to decide if one is better than the other.

Thanks,

Don't get mad if I don't give you points.  I try to be as fair as possible.
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Question by:adamdrayer
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lnkevin earned 2000 total points
ID: 17790413
To me, it is all depended on your environment. If you have a small company (less than 100 users), I recommend using Postini for lower maintenance cost. I ran an IT department for a law firm with 80 users with Postini, it costs me a little more than $250/month. Also, if you are shorten in staffs, Postini is your right solution. If you run a mid size company with more than 100 users, you may want to use security appliances for cost saving. However, if you have a limit number of staff with a huge workload stacking up, you may not have time to maintain your appliances. You are always the best candidate to answer your above questions. I just throw in some scenarios so you can better adjust your determination.

Good luck,

K
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:AdamRobinson
ID: 17790443
Echoing Kevin, if you have a small amount of employees, go with Postini.  It pays for itself very, very quickly.

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LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:knightrider2k2
ID: 17790772
If you are using barracuda currently then keep using it and use positni along with it. This will give you double layer of spam filtering.
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by:jimmymcp02
ID: 17790784
I looked at postini but i ended up using mxlogic i have to say that this was a good move
http://www.mxlogic.com/services/index.cfm

I honestly would not use hardware the least hardware that i have to monitor the better.
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LVL 26

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by:lnkevin
ID: 17790914
The least hardware is the better, it's right, if you will be the one who monitor your hardware. However, if you have a crew of 10 people sitting there and wait for new tasks or projects and you are the manager who assign them the task --> the more hardware is the better (more controls and creditibilities). So you play the show of picking the right solution for yourself.

K
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by:expexchuser
ID: 17791393
I agree with lnkevin.  

It's always nice having a 3rd party do it though, as it effectively creates a relay for you.  Then you can further protect your network by blocking inbound port 25 traffic to only the service provider's IP address.  This is critical in preventing someone from remotely pulling your smtp banner and enumerating/footprinting your mail server.  Often the banner reveals the server's entire life history including time zone and patch level.

You can also modify the banner on most mail servers, which is not a bad idea.
http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=281224
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LVL 79

Expert Comment

by:lrmoore
ID: 17791974
Postini isn't the only game in town. Frontbridge was acquired by Microsoft to become Microsoft Hosted Filtering
http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/services/filtering.mspx

Our company of over 4000 users has outsourced our spam filtering to our ISP, combined with Exchange spam filters, and it has proven to be very cost-effective over maintaining appliances and other systems in-house.
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by:megs28
ID: 17792187
At present, our ISP does our spam filtering.  They use SpamAssassin: http://spamassassin.apache.org/.  It does a decent job.  It scans the email based on certain rules, and anything that scores above a specific score is directed to the spam mailbox where one of the help desk individuals gets to sort through (10 minutes, tops, a day).
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by:expexchuser
ID: 17796398
We have a nice multilayer approach.  I have a TSP (tech service provider) scan for viruses on their systems, then forward to spamsoap for spam, then to our perimiter where our Intrusion Prevention System analyzes it, then our mail server AV & spam, then our client AV, and finally our employees and their common sense.  The 2 service providers total less than $800 annually.  And as said before, it allows for blocking port 25 traffic to only the nearest service provider.  Also if our mail server were to ever go down (hasn't yet, knock on wood), all our mail would be held in queue at our service provider.  I will admit there is no substitute for a manual rule blocking all zip files under 75k (only viruses zip small files).  I have sent about 4 new viruses to avert labs in the past thanks to this rule.
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by:adamdrayer
ID: 17796713
Thanks to all.  I had to give the points to lnkevin for responding with an opinion on why use an appliance and why use a service.
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