THE MAGAZINE

Anti-Spam Toolkit

By John Mallery

*****Anti-Spam Toolkit. By Paul Wolfe, Charlie Scott, and Mike W. Erwin; published by McGraw-Hill Osborne Media, www.osborne.com (Web); 400 pages; $49.99.

In just a few short years, spam has become as ubiquitous, and about as annoying, as mosquitoes in summertime. Sometimes though, like mosquitoes, spam is more than annoying, delivering viruses or other problems to your computer. Junk mail also hurts employee productivity, as staff spend time wading through ad pitches and deleting them from their inboxes.

The answer may be the Anti-Spam Toolkit. Think of it as a spam swatter. The three authors have extensive experience dealing with unsolicited commercial e-mail, and they have drawn on their experiences to outline the best methods of eradicating this pest.

Defense-in-depth is the approach endorsed here. Users learn steps for protecting their inboxes, starting with connections to the Internet and ending with individual PCs. The book is ideal for system administrators tasked with evaluating antispam products for their organizations, but there is something for every level of user.

About half the book describes installation and configuration options for numerous antispam products, particularly ones that operate on the Windows, Linux, or Mac OS operating systems. The information is solid, but its placement is a bit odd. Instead of appearing at the end of the book, at the end of a logical progression, it appears incongruously in the middle of the text. The only other shortcoming in the book is that it glosses over spyware as a source of spam and mentions only one antispyware product.

These are only mild objections, however, to an otherwise fine text. One standout chapter offers a behind-the-scenes look at how spammers operate and provides insight into how to defeat them. Perhaps the biggest highlight of the book is an enclosed CD containing antispam tools. Having the ability to experiment with the software without having to search for it on the Internet is a great timesaver. Although CDs that come with books can go out of date quickly, this CD allows users to install the latest versions of software directly from the vendor’s Web site.


Reviewer: John Mallery is a managing consultant for the firm BKD, LLP, where he is responsible for managing the firm’s computer forensics services. He is also coauthor of Hardening Network Security, published by McGraw-Hill. He is a member of the ASIS Information Technology Security Council

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