NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, January 2009
SPAMfighter – Free Spam Filtering Software
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director;
Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont, TX; Radio & TV Show Host

(click to email author)


According to a recent report published by Symantec’s MessageLabs, 81.2% of all email in 2008 has been some form of spam, or unwanted commercial email, down slightly from the rate in 2007. Almost all of the spam is coming from “botnets”, or hundreds of thousands of computers which are unknowingly infected by “zombies”, which have hijacked the bandwidth of those computers for the purposes of propagating spam, malware, and other malicious software. Many internet service providers (ISPs) offer spam filtering at the mail server level, but many do not. Locally, one major broadband provider offers excellent spam filtering for its integral email service, but the other major broadband provider does not. This other major broadband provider does offer a third party security suite which incorporates spam filtering, but for a variety of reasons it is not widely implemented. Many of us have multiple email accounts with other email services, and they vary greatly in their ability (or inability) to filter the enormous quantity of spam mail we routinely receive. Some contemporary internet security suites offer spam filtering as a feature, while many others do not, leaving countless users exposed to the scourge of spam emails.

For those lacking an ISP with spam filtering, or those without a security suite spam filter, spam mail can be an overwhelming problem. Fortunately for us, there are several independent spam filters that we can incorporate on our computers, and some of those are free. One I recently experimented with was SPAMfighter (free version), available for download from http://www.spamfighter.com. SPAMfighter will run on almost all 32bit versions of Windows, including Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP, and Vista. This software integrates with most contemporary Microsoft email platforms, including Outlook Express (version 5.5 or later), as well as the full versions of Outlook (versions 2000, 2002, XP, 2003, and 2007). It also works with Microsoft’s Windows Mail.

SPAMfighter was originally developed in Denmark, and has over 5.7 million registered users all over the globe, including about 600,000 in the US. SPAMfighter has offices in the US, Denmark, Germany, Ukraine, and India, and is available in 18 languages. The company is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, and the SPAMfighter software has been well reviewed by major computer publications. In May, 2008, PC World magazine awarded SPAMfighter one of its top awards, and stated that it was, “The only recommended spam filter.” Computerworld rated it as one of the top 100 programs available. The software service TUCOWS has awarded SPAMfighter its highest “Five Cows” rating, and ZDNet gave it its highest “5 Star” rating. Other publications have given its spam filtering technology numerous awards.

The basic version of SPAMfighter, referred to as the “Standard Version” is completely free for home and school users, but incorporates an "I'm protected by SPAMfighter" message as a footer to your outgoing e-mails, and displays a short text advertisement in your email client. The SPAMfighter Pro version is available for $29.00, and can be used in commercial environments. The Pro version also adds increased functionality, and does not append the "I'm protected by SPAMfighter" message as a footer to your outgoing e-mails, and does not display the text ad in the email client. The Pro version is available as a 30 day free trial, and will regress to the free Standard version if not registered (paid) within the trial period.

Using a very intuitive and simple interface, and a short toolbar in Outlook, SPAMfighter protects against one of the worst scourges in the spam kingdom, which is the identity theft tool known as “Phishing”, as well as other types of identity theft and email frauds. It can automatically filter emails based on the originating language, and can recognize spam sent as pictures, and not as text. The software is automatically updated very frequently, and manages both blacklists (prohibited email sources), and whitelists (allowed email sources). If a spam email slips through the defenses, a single mouse click enables “revenge mode” which will report the email as suspected spam, and automatically notify the other 5.7 million users. A feature called “Automatic real mail protection” assures that legitimate business related emails are not filtered. Unlike many competitors, SPAMfighter does not trigger or filter on simple phrases or words, and does not censor legitimate content. The users’ privacy is protected, as the publisher does not see any of the users’ emails. SPAMfighter can be used on multiple email accounts on a computer.

The company that publishes SPAMfighter also publishes a variety of other products, including an Exchange spam filter, a server spam filter, hosted spam filtering, and antivirus utility, and a spyware remover. All of these commercial products are available as a free 30 day trial from http://www.spamfighter.com/Other_Products.asp.

For those computer users who do not have spam filtering services or software, SPAMfighter would be a very worthwhile utility.

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