New system blocks 90,000 spam e-mails in first 24 hours

Brown University woke up to cleaner inboxes Monday morning.

Computing and Information Services rolled out the new anti-spam system Proofpoint Monday. Proofpoint quarantines suspected spam messages and prevents them from reaching e-mail users’ inboxes while sending users a digest of those e-mails.

“Overall, it’s going very well,” said Nancy Magers, a manager at CIS. The quarantine mechanism was activated Sunday at noon, and the first round of daily quarantine digests was sent out by midday Monday.

In its first 24 hours of operation, Proofpoint stopped 90,000 spam e-mails sent to 8,378 users on campus, for a total of 447 MB of e-mail storage saved, Magers said. CIS had originally intended to roll out Proofpoint March 1 but sped up its efforts in recent weeks to bring it out earlier, The Herald reported last month.

“We’ve been getting a lot of great feedback from faculty and staff,” said Stephanie Birdsall, lead communication specialist at CIS. Those users reported a “significant drop” in the number of spam e-mails received, she said.

While no students had yet given feedback to CIS, Birdsall said she had noticed a positive discussion of the new system on the Brown Daily Jolt forum. “We like that one,” she said.

Yvonne Wang ’07 said she received the spam quarantine digest this morning, deleting it after “glancing” over the e-mail subject lines within. She said she expects most students to simply delete the digest each day, calling it the “normal reaction” for students who have “figured out” how to deal with spam by experience.

“We’re very pleased with how smoothly the rollout went,” Birdsall said. “We think it’s going to make a huge difference on campus” in fighting spam.