Advanced spam protection

Freethought takes the safety and security of our customer's inboxes seriously and are pleased to have invested in adding URIBL to our list of intelligence providers to add yet another layer to our filtering, by increasing our ability to protect our customers from phishing attacks.

Advanced spam protection
Photo by Lindsey LaMont / Unsplash

Spam emails are a constant source of frustration for everyone, they take up space, and take time to delete and work through. Worst of all spam is potentially a serious security threat. Freethought takes the safety and security of our customer's inboxes seriously and so in 2018 we developed our own in-house systems to scan and filter emails. We constantly evolve and develop that system and have recently added even more intelligence providers in order to further enhance our filtering and strengthen our ability to protect our customers from a myriad of forms of attack, including phishing.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash

The different flavours of spam

The most common type of spam is the email equivalent of direct mail. It's often from real companies who are trying the sell something. Usually, you will have dealt with them at some point in the past and have inadvertantly given permission for them to email you news and offers. Emails like this from legitimate companies should include functional unsubscribe links hidden away in the footer.

Advertising from less scrupulous companies is the next type of spam. These often advertise things you won't be interested in such as timeshares, investments, or medicinal products. These are from companies buying mailing lists and pumping out their messages to as many people as possible. They don't follow any of the laws around electronic marketing, so even if there are unsubscribe links it is probably best not to click them as they'll only serve to confirm your details are valid and so yet more spam arrives.

The classic scam email is next on the list. The scammers will try and get you to send money for some reason such as releasing some money from a prince or businessman in a foreign land, or perhaps an investment promising massive returns. They prey on people being blinded by the promise of a lot of money for a low cost. The best course of action is to delete the emails and definitely don't click any links or reply.

Lastly, the scariest and most dangerous (and often the hardest to block) are phishing emails. These emails pretend to be from a reputable company such as Amazon, eBay, or perhaps your bank and trick you into handing over your login details. The emails might be a fake order confirmation, so you naturally login to see what you ordered via a link to a fake login page for that company, then you have given your login details to the attackers who use them to login to your account and start placing real orders and buying things with your payment details! You might also see fake emails from banks or couriers.
The most sneaky of all are ones where an email appears to come from your own company, possibly even a colleague. These are usually carefully targetted attacks using information the scammers have gleaned from the internet which allows them to convincingly impersonate someone at your company and attempt to trick you into installing malicous software or making an unauthorised payment. For this reason you should be very careful about confirming the sender's identity and never click a link in an email that you weren't expecting, especially if it is prompting you to send money or divulge confidential information.

How Freethought protects your inbox

We want our customers to be safe and we take our responsibility to protect your inboxes very seriously indeed. With this in mind, in 2018 we built our own advanced spam filtering cluster using various advanced technologies in order to keep you safe.

Our multi-layer approach to tacking spam includes checking for basic requirements such as SPF, DKIM and DMARC, checking published blocklists and reputation systems and using state of the art machine learning and neural networks to check the content for likely spam, and a whole host of other metrics, it even learns!

With the recent addition of even more intelligence providers, we are able to automatically protect you from a wider range of malicious web sites. The intelligence providers that we work with are constantly updating their databases of known phishing and spam web sites, which our filters use to check every link in all of the emails that they scan.

Does the filter catch everything?

Unfortunately no spam filter will catch everything - false negatives are still something which can happen, even with the most sophisticated systems available. Whilst humans are often very good at spotting spam, it's pretty tricky for a machine to do completely accurately, but thanks to the built-in training our spam filters get better every day with every message that they process and we also manually train them if we spot something from our proactive monitoring or when a customer reports a spam email that has slipped through.

How to get your email filtered

If your emails are hosted on your Freethought hosting service, then you are already benefiting from our spam filtering. If you don't currently use our services, then please feel free to get in contact via the Freethought website and we can arrange to migrate your emails to one of our hosting plans free of charge so that we can begin protecting your inbox.

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