Note: I no longer recommend SpamNet, having found more effective tools. See my Personal Survey of Anti-Spam Tools for more details and recommendations.
At the recommendation of a new co-worker, I recently installed Cloudmark’s SpamNet add-in for Microsoft Outlook, the e-mail client I’m using at Persistence.
The plug-in adds new capabilities to Outlook, enabling it to scan each message as it’s downloaded, and determine if it’s spam or not. If it’s spam, it’s sent to your Spam mailbox, rather than your Inbox. This lets you review the caught spams at another time, to verify that only spam has been filed there.
The most interesting part of SpamNet is the way it detects spam. It plugs into a P2P (peer-to-peer) network of spam reporters. Everyone who’s part of the network reports spam when it gets through their filters. After a couple people have reported any given spam, the network “learns” what that spam looks like, and will filter it for everyone else. So SpamNet “learns” about spam from the collective experience of everyone using SpamNet (currently about 40,000 people). This makes SpamNet probably the most effective anti-spam tool out there. There’s more to it than that, but not much, and you can read all about it on the Cloudmark web site.
Oh, yeah, the price tag. SpamNet is free for individual use. If you’re using Microsoft Outlook on Windows (as I have to at work), this tool should be a no-brainer.
But, there’s the catch. Today SpamNet supports only Outlook on Windows. If you use Outlook Express, you’ll be supported soon. If you’re using Netscape, or Eudora, or a Macintosh, you’re SOL at the moment.