Spam: good news and bad news

The bad news...

My blog was hit by a comment spammer last week. Hundreds of entries were made, interestingly focussing only a few articles (perhaps with a higher Google ranking?). Running without a CAPTCHA system or similar was good while it lasted. Comments are now disabled until I get around to installing a CAPTCHA style plugin.

Lazy web: what anti comment-spam technologies do you find work well for you? Is CAPTCHA the best option we have?

The good news...

I started using SpamAssassin for my personal email over a month ago. Having seen the complete ineffectiveness of some anti-spam systems I was fairly pessimistic about how effective it would be. Boy was I wrong. Without any tweaks to the default filtering config (except for ensuring that the latest rules are being used) it stops virtually spam hitting my mailbox with zero false-positives so far. I get 20-40 spams a day and 1 or 2 a month get through to my inbox.

My mail volume is comparatively low so I just set Procmail to invoke SpamAssassin for each inbound message. For higher volume situations something like SA's spamd should probably be used. Using Procmail has the nice benefit of being able to direct spam to a separate folder for later persual and deletion.

A cron job is set to run sa-update ever night to ensure the latest default checks are being used. This is important; spammers develop new tricks to bypass anti-spam systems all the time.

Currently I have all suspected spam going to a spam folder. However SA has been so successful that I'm thinking of getting Procmail to automatically delete higher scoring spam and send only the lower scoring spams to the spam folder. Depending on attitudes towards false-positives some might just delete all emails that SA thinks is spam. Personally, I'd rather be a bit cautious. Losing real email scares me.

It's so nice when something works beyond expectation.


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