Junk E-mail (SPAM)

Junk Mail -- otherwise known as "bulk e-mail" or "SPAM" is referred to as any e-mail that is an unsolicited bulk message. Its purpose is usually to advertise a product, web site, or company.

Recently there has been a fast increase in spam around the world. 80%-85% of world wide emails are spam. Spam is getting harder to detect due to the massive amount of "Zombie Servers". A "Zombie Server" is a regular computer that has been infected by spam and is now used to create and send spam to others. Spam now also uses randomly generated subjects with conversational style messages. If we were to block those, then all emails would be blocked. All these factors make it hard to prevent all spam from entering your mailbox. Sometimes a malicious spammer or infected computer can send messages <a>spoofing</a> the address as-if it were from @byui.edu. Messages like this might bounce back to a student or employee making it look like THEY were the ones sending out spam. This is common, and though we do the best we can to block such emails, some will continue to get through.

Spam filters examine the entire message, looking at:

  • Where it came from
  • Who it came from
  • What it says
  • How it says it
  • Many other different things

It then uses that to add to its knowledge of what you think is junk or spam.

The problem here is that spammers have been spoofing From addresses for a really long time. They rarely send email from the same address twice. Heck, they rarely send spam from an address that they even own. They'll say, "This message is from Mary Jones"; and have an email address for Frank Johnson when the name and the email address that display don't relate to each other, and have absolutely nothing to do with the actual sender of the mail.

Blocking or setting up rules for email addresses and having the spam filter focus on the From address are ineffective and inefficient ways of blocking spam. That's why most spam filters now look at the content and other characteristics of the email rather than looking at the From line.

Outlook is doing the best that it can with the spam that's coming in, but your expectation that it will block things based on the sender address is probably off the mark. It's not a technique that, by itself, works very well at all.

About BYU-Idaho's Powerful Spam Filtering

What does BYUI do to keep you free from Junk Mail?

All mail destined for an @byui.edu uses at least one powerful Spam Filtering Service. Before email enters our internal network, it is filtered first by Microsoft Office 365's Exchange Online Protection (EOP). As of the date of this writing, more than 12 million messages attempt to be delivered to BYU-Idaho every month, but only around 62 thousand of those are legitimate mail that eventually end up in the Inbox of a student or employee. If you receive an e-mail in your mailbox that should have been flagged as Junk Mail, please report it so that we may block future copies of the same email.

If students or employees desire to bypass this layer of protection, they can log into their email and disable Junk Mail Filtering from the options menu.

All users also have the added safety of Junk Mail settings in Microsoft Outlook. Microsoft provides pre-defined rules in their Desktop version of Outlook, which can sometimes be even over-zealous in filtering business-related mail into a Junk Mail folder. From the tools menu, select "Options" and click the Junk E-mail button under the Preferences tab to modify your Junk Mail folder settings.

"What To Do If You Get SPAM"

Even the best spam filter lets a few SPAM emails slip through the cracks. At this point it's up to the users to help make the filter even stronger.

What can you do as a user if you are getting spam or other unwanted emails?

If the Spam came from someone that you know or some other "legitimate" source Report the Spam to us.

Configure Outlook's Junk Mail settings

Junk mail is an inevitability today.  We block as much as we can at the server level but occasionally some gets through.  If you see some get through to your mailbox, here's how you can help: