Exchange & Outlook UPDATE, Exchange Edition, November 25, 2003

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1. Commentary

- Exchange Gets Filtered

2. Announcements

- Free White Paper on Exchange 2003 Deployment

- Quick Answers for Microsoft Small Business Server

3. Resources

- Exchange Intelligent Message Filter

- Featured Thread: Using Group Policy to Control Outlook Start-Up

- Outlook Tip: Modifying the Calendar's Color Labels

4. Event

- New--Microsoft Security Road Show!

5. New and Improved

- Help Users Filter Spam

- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

6. Contact Us

- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.


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==== 1. Commentary: Exchange Gets Filtered ==== by Paul Robichaux, News Editor, [email protected]

Spam filtering has become a growing market in recent years as spammers have become increasingly brazen in their efforts to peddle their wares. Customers have found Microsoft Office Outlook 2003's junk-mail filtering technology, known as SmartScreen and developed at Microsoft Research, to be quite effective despite its limitations (e.g., the filter works only with Exchange Server 2003 cached-mode profiles). However, the Outlook filter is still a client-side tool that works on email only after that mail has been delivered to an Exchange mailbox. At COMDEX 2003, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates announced that Microsoft is developing a server-side spam filter that integrates with Exchange 2003: the Exchange Intelligent Message Filter.

Microsoft Research specializes in long-term research projects, many of which (e.g., Microsoft ClearType, speech recognition) are incorporated into Microsoft products. SmartScreen filtering technology made its debut in Microsoft's MSN client and was already a proven technology when the Outlook team incorporated it. The SmartScreen filter works by scanning inbound messages and applying heuristic rules to decide which messages are spam and which aren't. SmartScreen implements these rules as a Bayesian filter, which is widely used in UNIX spam filtering and which works well after it's been trained with a sufficient number of messages. Microsoft has been able to train the SmartScreen filter with email that MSN Hotmail users who contributed to the training effort have forwarded.

Exchange Intelligent Message Filter, which Microsoft plans to release early next year, is designed to hit the filtering sweet spot by catching junk mail at the network perimeter. Exchange Intelligent Message Filter is a server-side component that will run on Exchange 2003 and will integrate with Outlook 2003's and Outlook Web Access (OWA) 2003's trusted and junk senders lists to control what senders and domains users do or don't trust implicitly. Exchange Intelligent Message Filter will provide two levels of filtering--a gateway threshold and a mailbox-store threshold--according to a message's spam confidence level (SCL) property. (Third-party filters already use the SCL.) Exchange Intelligent Message Filter will set this property, which rates the likelihood that the message is spam, for incoming email messages. Administrators can set the threshold levels and define certain actions to take place when a message's SCL crosses one or both thresholds.

The gateway threshold controls which messages the filter will stop at the gateway. For example, you can configure Exchange Intelligent Message Filter to delete messages that exceed a gateway threshold of 75 or to quarantine messages that exceed a threshold of 90. Messages that pass the gateway threshold go on to the mailbox store, in which the filter applies the mailbox-store threshold. If the message's SCL exceeds this threshold, the filter automatically moves the message to the user's Junk Mail folder after evaluating the user's trusted sender and trusted domain lists. This approach works quite nicely with both Outlook and OWA and, because the filtering happens on the server, messages that arrive while a user is offline are still filtered at the mailbox-store level.

Microsoft hasn't yet announced final availability or pricing for Exchange Intelligent Message Filter, but more details should be forthcoming in the next few weeks. As soon as I can get a close look at this new component, I'll examine it in detail and report my findings to you.


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==== 2. Announcements ==== (from Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)

Free White Paper on Exchange 2003 Deployment

In this white paper, noted Microsoft Exchange expert Kieran McCorry, from HP’s Exchange consulting group, outlines the options for migrating to Exchange Server 2003. The paper discusses inter-org migrations, intra-org migrations and how to benefit from consolidation during deployment. Request this free white paper today.

Quick Answers for Microsoft Small Business Server

Is Small Business Server right for you? Do you need answers about how to set up Small Business Server? Learn about Small Business Server’s key features, upgrade possibilities, and storage and find how-to guides, troubleshooting tips, forums, and more at Windows & .NET Magazine online.

==== 3. Resources ====

Exchange Intelligent Message Filter

Learn more about the upcoming Exchange Intelligent Message Filter.

Featured Thread: Using Group Policy to Control Outlook Start-Up

A forum reader would like to use Group Policy to control Outlook's startup options. To offer your advice or join the discussion, go to the following URL:

Outlook Tip: Modifying the Calendar's Color Labels by Sue Mosher, [email protected]

Q: How can I modify the Outlook Calendar's color labels in Outlook 2002?

A: To modify the Outlook Calendar's color labels in an Exchange public folder, you must be the folder owner. Choose Edit, Label, Edit Labels. You can change the text for each color, but you can't increase the number of labels or change the colors. Be aware that any color-label customization applies only to the folder that you customize. Each folder can have its own set of color labels.

See the Windows & .NET Magazine Exchange & Outlook Web page for more great tips from Sue Mosher.

==== 4. Event ==== (brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine)

New--Microsoft Security Road Show!

Join industry guru Mark Minasi on this exciting 20-city tour and learn more about tips to secure your Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 network. There is no charge for this event, but space is limited, so register today! Sign up now for our December events.

==== 5. New and Improved ==== by Carolyn Mader, [email protected]

Help Users Filter Spam

Aladdin Systems announced SpamCatcher 3.0, spam-filtering software that transparently integrates into Outlook, MSN Hotmail, and POP3 email clients and assigns email messages a SpamScore from 0 to 100. Users control filter strength and the treatment of identified spam (i.e., place the message in a spam folder, delete the message, or mark the message as spam). SpamCatcher applies four spam-detection engines to each incoming message; each engine applies 1000 to 100,000 antispam rules. Pricing is $29.99 with an introductory $10 rebate. Contact Aladdin Systems at 831-761-6200 or [email protected]

Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Tell us about the product, and we'll send you a Windows & .NET Magazine T-shirt if we write about the product in a future Windows & .NET Magazine What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions with information about how the product has helped you to [email protected]

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==== 6. Contact Us ====

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This email newsletter is brought to you by Exchange & Outlook Administrator, the print newsletter with practical advice, tips, and techniques covering migration, backup and restoration, security, and much more. Subscribe today.

Copyright 2003, Penton Media, Inc.

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