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Understanding Junk Mail Handling in GroupWise 6.5 - Part 3

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Tay Kratzer

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Posted: 2 Dec 2004
 

Administrative Control of Junk Mail Handling


Tay Kratzer
Junk Mail Handling is enabled in ConsoleOne under Tools|GroupWise Utilities|Client Options|Environment. As we discussed in Part 1, before it's advisable that you have a SPAM protection solution in-place before enabling Junk Mail Handling. And then once Junk Mail Handling is enabled, it's also advisable that you set a limit to the amount of time users can retain mail that has been moved to their Junk Mail Folder. For example, you could lock down the retention of items in the Junk Mail Folder to 14 days as shown in Figure 1. This way you disk space and backup tape space isn't being used needlessly retaining messages that users don't want.

Figure 1 - Limiting how long items can stay in the Junk Mail Folder

Another idea to consider is whether or not you will allow users to use the "Block List" feature of Junk Mail Handling. By allowing users to Block unwanted messages, if ever a user complains that they didn't get a message, and it was the Block List that deflected the message, there's no way for the user get the message back. I bring this up as food for thought. You know your users, and just what they are capable of!

The X-SPAM-FLAG and the Junk Mail Folder

You'll remember that in Part 1 of this article we discussed SPAM and Junk Mail already. However there is a new feature that has been added to GroupWise 6.5.2 and better, where SPAM messages can be moved to the Junk Mail folder, without directly using the Junk Mail Handling features. The potential benefit is that messages from the Internet that are flagged with the "X-Spam-Flag: YES" Mime header entry, do not have to be flagged by the user in any manner. The fact that a message has the "X-Spam-Flag: YES" Mime header will cause the message to be moved to the Junk Mail folder automatically. And although the Junk Mail folder isn't a SPAM folder, the fact that Microsoft Exchange uses a "Junk Mail" folder to hold SPAM probably influenced how this functionality was architected.

There's two ways to see this additional functionality. A positive look at this feature is that when a SPAM message is quarantined, and the user wants to see the quarantined message, it's right there in their Junk Mail folder. In some organizations users are concerned that the SPAM gateway may be filtering out too much. These same users may not want to get a report of filtered mail, they just may want to have it in their Junk Mail folder. Leveraging the X-Spam-Flag is a way to do this.

The potential downside to using the X-Spam-Flag is that the SPAM messages traverse the network and are stored, generally for no good reason. If you are going to use the X-Spam-Flag functionality, there is even more support for the notion of setting a limit on how long users can keep messages in their Junk Mail folder.

In order to use the X-Spam-Flag functionality, the GWIA, and the Post Office Agent, must be at GroupWise 6.5.2 or better. It's also best to have the GroupWise client at version 6.5.2 or better, but it's not a requirement.

The X-Spam-Flag is not inserted by the sender of the message (of course they don't want to help you filter out SPAM). The X-Spam-Flag is added to a message by an in-between software solution. Like a SPAM filtering appliance that supports the notion of adding the X-Spam-Flag to an inbound message. This appliance would sit in front of the GWIA. For customers that are using the third-party virus and spam filtering software called "GWAVA" you should know that the latest version of GWAVA also supports the X-Spam-Flag.

If the the X-Spam-Flag in the mime header reads "X-Spam-Flag: YES", then the message is recognized as SPAM and will be moved to the Junk Mail folder. Figure 2 shows a mime.822 file for an Internet message. All GroupWise messages that come from the Internet have a mime.822 file which represents the raw Internet message before it was converted into GroupWise format.

Figure 2 - The X-Spam-Flag in a mime.822 file

NOTE: Because I don't have a SPAM gateway on my test system, I had to actually manually insert the "X-Spam-Flag: YES" into the message while it was in ASCII format after it came into my GWIA. All I had to do was make sure that "X-Spam-Flag: YES" was in the Mime header, and the GWIA and the POA knew how to act on the item to flag it as SPAM, and automatically move it to the recipient's Junk Mail folder.

If you intend to use the new "X-Spam" feature then make sure to do the following:

  1. Upgrade the GWIA and the POA to 6.5.2. The best client for this functionality is the GroupWise 6.5.2 client.


  2. Edit the gwia.cfg file for the GWIA. At the end of the file, add the "xspam" switch.
    If the GWIA is on the NetWare or Windows platform the switch is:
    /xspam

    If the GWIA is on the Linux platform the switch is:
    --xspam
  3. After adding the switch to the gwia.cfg, restart the GWIA so that it re-reads the gwia.cfg file.


  4. Implement a SPAM appliance that supports the "X-Spam" functionality, or if you use GWAVA, implement the latest version of GWAVA. Within the SPAM software, make sure to enable support for "X-Spam" MIME header entries.

Troubleshooting Junk Mail Handling

The best way to troubleshoot Junk Mail Handling is built right into the GroupWise 6.5.x client. If you view the Properties page of any Internet mail, towards the bottom of the properties page, there's a great little section regarding how the Junk Mail Handling engine processed that particular message item.

Figure 3 shows a message sent from tkratzer@novell.com that was moved to the Junk Mail folder because it was in the recipient's (info@taykratzer.com) Junk List.

Figure 3 -- A message moved to the Junk Mail folder because it was on the Junk List

Next I removed tkratzer@novell.com from the Junk List for the my example user "info@taykratzer.com". I then made sure that tkratzer@novell.com was not in info's personal address book. Then I sent a message from my novell.com account, and captured it at the taykratzer.com site's GWIA while it was in ASCII format. I then added the "X-Spam-Flag: YES" text to the Mime header, which upon delivery, caused the message to be moved to the info user's Junk Mail folder. Figure 4 is a screen shot of the properties of this message. You'll note the mention to the X-SPAM-Flag in Figure 4.

Figure 4 -- A message moved to the Junk Mail folder because it was flagged as SPAM

Outside of looking at the properties of messages, there is not a way to look at the POA log and have it tell you when a message is moved to the Junk Mail folder, or if the message was blocked. If you do put the POA logging on Diagnostic logging it will show you the full e-mail address of all messages sent from the Internet. However I would not recommend enabling diagnostic logging on the POA for long periods of time, as it can degrade performance of the POA. As an administrator, the most effective way to troubleshoot Junk Mail Handling is by actually getting into the account of the user experiencing problems with Junk Mail Handling.

Summary

My experience with Junk Mail Handling is that people complain that an e-mail address they are trying to have automatically junked, is not getting junked. In this scenario this is what has happened. The user has enabled "Junk Mail using personal address books". And the sender that the user wants to block is in the user's Frequent Contacts address book. Or the sender is within a group in the one of the user's address books. Once the sender is removed from the personal address book(s) then the message will move to the Junk Mail folder.

Another little tidbit is that if you are leveraging the "X-Spam-Flag" functionality, if the sender of the message that was flagged as SPAM is in the recipients address book, the SPAM message will not move to the Junk Mail folder.

more Understanding Junk Mail Handling in GroupWise 6.5:

more Kratzer's Hot Docs

See other articles written by Tay Kratzer at "Kratzer's Hot Docs": http://www.novell.com/coolsolutions/gwmag/trenches/kratzer.html

books to read

Success with Clustering GroupWise:
A Guide to Building a Highly Available GroupWise System

by Tay Kratzer and Gregg A. Hinchman
Purchase info: www.taykratzer.com

Success with GroupWise 6.5 for Linux:
by Tay Kratzer and Ira Messenger
Purchase info: www.taykratzer.com


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