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FAQs

Spam Assassin

What does Spam Assassin do to my incoming emails?

SpamAssassin is a mail filter to identify spam

To start off, SpamAssassin does not block incoming email to your in box, it only "tags" emails that it things is spam. Using its http://spamassassin.taint.org/tests.html rule base, it uses a wide range of heuristic tests on mail headers and body text to identify "spam", also known as unsolicited commercial email.

The spam-identification tactics used include:

  • header analysis: spammers use a number of tricks to mask their identities, fool you into thinking they've sent a valid mail, or fool you into thinking you must have subscribed at some stage. SpamAssassin tries to spot these.
  • text analysis: again, spam mails often have a characteristic style (to put it politely), and some characteristic disclaimers and CYA text. SpamAssassin can spot these, too.

Once identified, the mail can then be optionally tagged as spam for later filtering using the user's own mail user-agent application or RWH's mail filter feature

Heres what a "tagged" email will look like with SpamAssassin Enabled

Date: 2/6/02 11:11:23 PM
From: Premier Investor Network
Subject: *****SPAM***** February Option Strategies for Your Portfolio
Reply-to: Customer Service
To: Active Investors

SPAM: -------------------- Start SpamAssassin results ----------------------
SPAM: This mail is probably spam. The original message has been altered
SPAM: so you can recognise or block similar unwanted mail in future.
SPAM: See http://spamassassin.org/tag/ for more details.
SPAM:
SPAM: Content analysis details: (5.37 hits, 5 required)
SPAM: Hit! (1 point) Invalid Date: header (has AM/PM)
SPAM: Hit! (-2 points) BODY: Contains a claim of copyright
SPAM: Hit! (0.7 points) BODY: Contains word 'profits' in all-caps
SPAM: Hit! (1 point) BODY: Gives instructions for removal from list
SPAM: Hit! (0.01 points) BODY: Asks you to click below
SPAM: Hit! (1 point) BODY: Uses a dotted-decimal IP address in URL
SPAM: Hit! (1.91 points) Date: is in the future or unparseable
SPAM: Hit! (1.75 points) From and To the same address
SPAM:
SPAM: -------------------- End of SpamAssassin results ---------------------

spam body here.....

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