Blog Archive

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Barracuda Spam Firewall, Now at Your Service

If you are one of our internet customers, you have a new servant working for you! Please meet the Barracuda Spam Firewall which is the latest tool from the Glasgow EPB for helping you win the battle with junk email. The Barracuda Spam Firewall is the replacement for our old spam filter you knew as Postini. The Postini system was great for a few years, but could no longer meet the demands of today’s email environment. We will be terminating our contract with Postini so if you have any type of whitelist (list of email domains that you have identified as friendly) you want to transfer to the Barracuda, now is the time to do so. The Barracuda device is a state-of-the art spam filter from Barracuda Networks and is doing a wonderful job of eliminating junk spam email and keeping it from clogging our network. On average this piece of equipment is blocking over 2 million pieces of junk email a day (that is over 130 per day for every man, woman, and child in Glasgow)!!! Postini was only blocking around 900,000 pieces of spam a day so you can see why we feel the new Barracuda device is worth the money.
The Barracuda Firewall has several different layers of defense to protect us from things like email floods, viruses, and just the normal every day annoying spam emails we all get. We are going to attempt to focus on the features you, the customer, will see and what they mean, but first let’s talk about how the Barracuda Spam Firewall works.
The device and the software that drives it, assigns each piece of email that comes into the system a spam rating of “1" to “10". From the Barracuda device’s perspective, the higher the number, the more likely it is that the email is spam. Conversely, the lower the number, the more likely it is to be something you really wanted to receive. The whole system is set up on this concept and every piece of email that comes in gets tagged with a score of 1-10. The system looks at your email score and it uses the following rules to decide what to do with it:
· If the score is 2 or below, it delivers it to your inbox as a legitimate email.
· If the score is between 2 and 7, it might be legitimate but it’s probably not so it puts it into your quarantine box so that you have the option of delivering it to yourself.
· If the score is above 7, it is almost 100% sure it is spam and it drops it so that it isn’t delivered to you at all and you don’t have to deal with it.

Now let’s talk about how you go in to customize your new spam filter. By now you have received a “Spam Quarantine Summary” email from the Barracuda Spam Firewall device.
It shows you what is currently in your inbox and the easiest way to login is by clicking the link at the bottom that says:

To view your entire quarantine inbox or manage your preferences, click here.

By clicking the “click here” link you will be taken to your personal Barracuda account.
The other way to login is by going to and entering your username, which is your entire email address, and your password. If you don’t have a password yet just fill in your email address and click “Create New Password” and the Barracuda will send you an email with a password in it and instructions to log in.

Once you’re logged in your going to see a few screens which we will discuss below. First you will see the “Quarantine Inbox.”

Quarantine Inbox:
On this tab you can view the contents of your quarantine box and use it to perform several actions. To perform an action on an email, put a check in the box next to the item then click an option at the top to perform that option on your email. If you want to perform an action on all of the messages, then click the checkbox in the header right next to “Time Received” and it performs the action on all of the emails on the screen. Your quarantined emails will stay in the quarantine for up to 30 days then they start to be deleted.

Here is a description of the options:

Deliver – Choosing this will deliver the selected item to your inbox and you will receive it shortly like you would any normal email.
Whitelist – This adds the sender of this email to a whitelist which means that it will bypass all of your spam filters regardless of what the message is about and it will be delivered to your inbox. For example if you have a mail coming from and it is always getting declared as spam but it’s not, you would white list an email from that user and then every piece of mail you receive from that email address will be delivered to you.
Whitelist/Not Spam – This does the same thing as the above Whitelist function plus it automatically delivers that piece of mail to your inbox and classifies it as not spam for use in your Bayesian Filter (that is a term you will see a lot and it simply refers to the way Barracuda filters each piece of email).
Delete – This does just as it says and deletes the selected email from the quarantine box on the Barracuda.

The next two options are used to load what is called the Bayesian Filter. The Bayesian Filter is basically a self learning intelligent filter that learns that you as a user think is spam, and what is not. This is different for every user so the more emails that you classify the better it works. It takes a minimum of 200 emails classified in each category before the Bayesian filter begins to learn.

Classify As Spam – Classifies this email as spam in the Bayesian filter and makes sure that emails like this are always classified as spam and not delivered to you.
Classify As Not Spam –Classifies this email as not spam and loads it into the Bayesian filter as a valid email. It then delivers it to your inbox.

There is also an actions column at the left hand side of each email listed which is a shortcut to the actions at the top. These are basically used to perform a given action on a single email without having to check the box and click the buttons at the top.
That is all there is to the Quarantine Inbox so now let’s take a look at the Preferences tab. As I’m sure you’ve already guessed the Preferences tab is where you can customize almost everything on your account.

When you first enter the preferences tab will see the Whitelist/Blacklist Options.
As we talked about above, the whitelist are things that you want to get through no matter what.
The Blacklist is email addresses that you always want to block. So if you’ve got someone who sends you emails you don’t want to ever receive emails from, the Blacklist will make the Barracuda eat those emails and you’ll never see them.
To add an email address to either of these categories all you have to do is type the email address in the blank for that category, and hit add. It’s as simple as that!!!

The Quarantine Settings tab is our next option.
It has several options you can change but we recommend leaving these alone.
Enable And Disable Quarantine - If you disable your quarantine then any of those messages which rate a score of between 2 and 7 are going to be delivered to you and the word [BULK] is going to be put in the title of the email. This is fine for users who have some type of anti spam software setup on your computer, but we do not recommend turning this off unless you’re 100% sure you know what you’re doing.
Quarantine Notification – This sets how often you would like to receive the notification emails from the Barracuda about what is in your quarantine inbox. Many users don’t want to receive those emails so you simply check Never and then hit “Save Changes.” After doing this you are not going to receive quarantine emails so you’ll need to check periodically and see what’s stuck in your quarantine.
Default Language – This one is pretty self explanatory. Please don’t change this setting.

The next tab is the “Spam Settings” tab which of course actually controls your spam settings. Under this tab you can do all kinds of stuff but once again we enable leaving it to the defaults we have set for you. However, if you want to change the settings here are what the settings do.
Spam Filter Enable/Disable – This turns off the Spam Filtering. If you are unhappy with the Barracuda and want to receive all of your emails regardless of whether it’s spam or not, you set this to “No” and click “Save Changes.” Be warned if you do this you are going to receive every piece of email that comes to your email address regardless of whether it’s spam or not.
Spam Scoring – We recommend leaving this alone so we’re not going to go into it much. If you set “Use System Defaults” to no and change the numbers, you can change how the Barracuda interprets your email. We do not recommend and don’t support you changing these settings. If you do however want to you can read the description next to each category to see what it does.
Barracuda Bayesian Learning – This is the control for the Bayesian filter which I talked about earlier. As you can see it lets you know that you need 200 of each type before it starts to work well. If you want to delete everything in your database hit the “Reset” button.
Bayesian Database Backup – This allows you to download your Bayesian Database to a file and keep it for re-uploading it later in case you accidentally erase it.

The final tab is something that I’m sure everyone is going to use. That is the “Password” tab.
This is where you go to set your password to something besides the randomly generated one which the Barracuda gives you. To do this you simply type the old auto generated password in the “Old Password” blank. Then you type what you want your password to be in the “New Password” blank as well as the “Re-Type New Password” blank and you hit “Save Password.” It’s as simple as that and now you have a password you can remember instead of having to memorize random characters.

That’s all there is too it. We hope you enjoy the Barracuda as much as we do. It is a very powerful tool that we are using to make our email system the best in town.