In a word, yes. Though it’s much more complicated than that. Spam affects Mac and Windows (and Linux) users and, by some accounts makes up 75-percent of all email.
Apple’s Mac Mail application has a good Junk Mail filter which segregates incoming email. Good email goes to the inbox. Spam and unwanted email gets filtered and sent to Junk Mail (or elsewhere, depending on your filter setup).
That brings nearly everyone back to the same starting point. Dual email checking. First, we check email in the inbox. Even with a good spam filter, some junk email gets through.
Then, just to make sure we’re not missing good email messages, we have to check the Junk Mail folder and sort through that to see if there’s any good mail there.
Will Mac OS X Tiger have a fix for that dual-edged sword? Perhaps so, though “pure” Mac users may have an edge on their Windows counterparts. Here’s why.
One of our readers is a system administrator for a small company (less than 500 employees, less than 200 users) that uses Mac OS X Server to handle internal server requirements, including email and web services.
His Mac OS X Server (Panther) operation uses the Mac’s built-in email system, the open source Postfix. Here’s what he did to reduce incoming spam from 100 messages a day per user, to less than 5 per day. Per user.
First, it’s an all Mac system. Mac servers, Mac desktops, Mac applications, all running Mac OS X (latest version).
Second, spam was getting out of control. With less than 200 Mac users, each with an email account that “attracted” over 100 spam messages daily, productivity was reduced as each user would sort through “clean” email messages, only to need to sort through the Junk Mail folder, too.
Common problem, right?
What does Mac OS X Tiger offer that will help reduce the two-step spam dance?
Postfix. SpamAssassin. Improved Junk Mail filtering on Mail. And proper knowledge of what’s happening with the spam industry these days.
First, at the server level, Postfix offers a number of filtering mechanisms which, once implemented, reduce spam email by an order of magnitude. That means that each user who previously sorted through 100 spam messages a day, now receives only 10, or less.
Postfix allows a Mac server to check DNS “black lists” and prohibit incoming messages if they don’t pass the “black list” test. Once set up, the checking is automatic.
Part of the configuration included checking the incoming messages origin, header information, and other “gotchas.” Again, if the message failed a test, it was refused. The “bad” spam would never make it to an inbox.
Is it possible to block legitimate incoming email? Yes, though it seldom happens.
Next, SpamAssassin was installed on Mac OS X Server (Panther) to further filter email that was not blocked by Postfix.
SpamAssassin is not for the faint of heart. It’s a complex beast that slices and dices incoming email messages through a series of bewildering filters.
The end result, though, is reduced spam. SpamAssassin gets high marks for accuracy, and though it will run on servers of nearly any flavor, is considered to be a bear to setup, install, and tweak.
Apple to the rescue. What does our favorite Cupertino, CA computer company do best? Make the complex easy to understand.
Mac OS X Tiger Server will ship with both Postfix and SpamAssassin pre-installed and ready for “point and click” use. The new Tiger Server Administrator will make the complexities of Postfix and SpamAssassin not only easier to tolerate, but provide benefits for the end user; the one who complains about all the spam in the inbox.
The road to Tiger is short. Apple has promised deliver of Tiger by “the first half of 2005.” Amazon started taking preorders and offered a discount of $35 for Tiger. Until someone at Apple pulled the plug (Amazon pulled the Tiger order offer).
When Tiger ships (in the first half of 2005) Mac users will have the benefit of using Mail’s improved Junk Mail filter. But that’s not the only major benefit of upgrading to Tiger.
If your ISP or company uses Mac OS X Tiger Server (Postfix and SpamAssassin are included), then you may very well experience the end of spam.