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More Spam Protection Added to Exchange 2003

Microsoft this week announced a "third gate" of spam protection that will be coming in Exchange Server 2003, which is due for release in the middle of this year.

The new feature comes in partnership with software vendors, whose software will use their own algorithms to "score" a message on the probability that the message is spam. Exchange 2003 will accept the score, called a "Spam Confidence Level", from the third-party software and give IT administrators the ability to set the scoring threshold that determines whether messages appear in users' Inboxes or in their Junk Mail folders.

"It essentially allows an Exchange administrator to have a throttle or a control over how much spam gets blocked, similar to a volume control," says Chris Baker, group product manager for Exchange. "If the message is on one side of the threshold, then mail will go through to the end user's Inbox. If it's on the other side of the threshold, the mail will flow into their Junk Mail folder. In both cases, the user will be able to see it."

Vendors building Spam Confidence Level support into their products include Brightmail, GFI Software, Network Associates, Sybari Software, Symantec and Trend Micro.

Protection against spam is one of the major new features Microsoft is highlighting in Exchange Server 2003. Previously, Microsoft disclosed that Exchange Server 2003 would give administrators the ability to create and manage global accept and deny lists for keeping certain known spammers out and for always allowing traffic from partners.

Another previous announcement was support in Exchange 2003 for real-time filtering through subscriptions to real-time blacklist services, which maintain up-to-date databases of spammers.

New anti-spam capabilities are also built into Exchange's client companion, Outlook 2003, which is scheduled for release about the same time as Exchange 2003.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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