Veterinary science has been part of MSU’s curriculum since the institution’s founding in 1855. In 1910, the College of Veterinary Medicine was formally established as a four-year, degree-granting program. Today, the college includes four biomedical science departments, two clinical departments, two service units; and several research centers. There are about 3500 faculty and staff members and about 600 students. The College of Veterinary Medicine uses Novell GroupWise as its collaboration system. Until recently, they were relying on open source products for spam control, but with the ever-increasing volume of spam attacks and other internet-borne threats, in 2007 the IT Department made the decision to switch to the M+Guardian security gateway from Messaging Architects.
Protecting the College’s Email System and Complying with Freedom of Information Requirements
Like any other academic institution, the College of Veterinary Medicine needed to find the fine balance between email security and freedom of information. One of the biggest challenges for the college’s IT department was to find a solution that would protect the email system from unnecessary risks and at the same time abide by the guidelines for providing access to information for students, faculty, and staff without having to dedicate endless manhours for its administration. After experimenting with a couple of products that proved to be labor intensive and ineffective with respect to catching unwanted email messages, the College of Veterinary Medicine at MSU selected M+Guardian.
Stephen Bogdanski, Network Administrator at the College of Veterinary Medicine, explains some of the reasons for choosing M+Guardian, “The appliance offered some features that were very attractive to us. The fact that everything was auto-updated and didn’t require tweaking of the filters from the IT personnel was a great productivity-booster for us. The fact that M+Guardian is a Linux-based appliance was another bonus for us, since we are a Novell shop and try to standardize on a single platform as much as possible. We liked the options of greylisting and Spamhaus RBLs and XBLs, which automatically reject up to 90% of the spam messages that try to reach us before they even get a chance to enter our email system. The Spamhaus datafeed service, which does a great job with rejecting incoming email from known spammers, is included with the M+Guardian appliance and is an excellent value-added component.”
On average the College of Veterinary Medicine receives about 140,000 messages per day, of which about 96% are blocked right at the gateway by M+Guardian’s various layers of perimeter protection. The few unsolicited messages that manage to pass through are then trapped by the appliance’s anti-spam engines and then tagged and sent to the users’ respective quarantines. Bogdanski continues, “The amount of spam that still gets through and is tagged as such has dropped on average about 85%. This is also a big plus, because now our users only need a few minutes to go over these messages and make sure there are no false positives.” The entire process is automated and requires zero management by the email administrator.
Since the implementation of the M+Guardian gateway, Bogdanski has received only positive feedback from his end users. They immediately noticed the reduction of unwanted messages in their inboxes and they are very satisfied with the results. The IT specialists are equally satisfied that they have effectively solved their spam problem and at the same time greatly reduced the overhead required for managing the problem. “I will say that we are highly satisfied with the product and we are way ahead from where we were before. In my opinion, the investment we made in the M+Guardian appliance was definitely worth it,” concludes Bogdanski.
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