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Spam: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Spam: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions including spam flagging and filtering


Unsolicited e-mail is most often called "spam." Because the marginal cost of sending each message is negligible, bulk emailers can send thousands or millions of messages with the knowledge that a small percentage will respond to a commercial offer. The economic costs are imposed primarily on the recipients, who must spend time sorting through their email to determine which messages are legitimate. The content of unsolicited messages can often be considered offensive, and the most abusive bulk emailers are not concerned with providing the ability to opt-out.

First Line of Defense: OIT Email Firewall Service

OIT maintains email firewall servers to stem the glut of spam to Princeton mailboxes. The email firewall servers constantly monitor known spammer lists and compare Princeton incoming mail to these lists. The firewall will refuse to accept the confirmed spam and will send it back to the post office it came from. This layer of spam protection has had a significant effect on incoming spam. It is estimated that 70% of the mail that arrives at Princeton electronic post offices is known spam; this service significantly reduces the junk mail.

Second Line of Defense: The Proofpoint Spam Utility

OIT provides and supports a spam-filtering utility that has robust features to fight against the onslaught of unwanted email. The service provides enhanced features for user management of inbound unwanted mail, allowing individuals to identify their own safe lists and blocked lists. You are able to create a "reject" list of e-mail addresses from which you never want to receive messages, and an "accept" list of addresses from which you always want to receive messages. Other features include real time blocking of bad senders, content filtering (e.g. attachment removal), scanning for viruses, and anti-spam measures. Please note:

  • Any email going from one Exchange user to another Exchange user is not scanned by Proofpoint
  • Any email going between listserv and Exchange is not scanned by Proofpoint
  • Any email going between listserv, Exchange, and Princeton Gmail is not scanned by Proofpoint
  • There are many email servers on campus that do route mail through the servers, and if the email is going to another internal Princeton email server, then Proofpoint does not scan it

Third Line of Defense: Configure Your Junk Mail Controls

All modern email applications have built-in tools to control your mail; for example Outlook and Mac Mail junk mail controls. These preferences, if enabled, can be very effective in fine-tuning your spam controls for any messages that should escape the email firewall or Proofpoint filtering mechanisms. For most people, the Proofpoint anti-spam facility is sufficient to eliminate the majority of spam from your Inbox. Junk mail filters, unless carefully configured, can cause confusion when valid mail is sent to the wrong folder.

If All Else Fails....

You can report spam to the vendor so that they can investigate and add the spammer to their blocked lists. See: Proofpoint: How can I report spam to the Proofpoint vendor? You can also add individual domains to your own blocked list. See: Proofpoint: Safe and blocked lists; how to manage them.

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Last Updated:
October 9, 2013

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