GIAC Report
Thursday, September 11, 2003


SpamKiller
by McAfee
http://us.mcafee.com/root/package.asp?pkgid=123&www_url=www.mcafee.com/myapps/msk/default.asp

FEATURES:

  • $39.95
  • 30-day free evaluation
  • Block emails using both lists and preset filters
  • Update internal filters automatically
  • Filter MSN/Hotmail, POP3 and MAPI email
  • Create custom filters
  • Quarantine spam outside of your inbox
  • Import "friends" automatically into your safe list
  • Monitor and filter multiple email accounts
  • Fight back against spammers
  • Report spam to McAfee

REVIEW:

I installed the evaluation copy of SpamKiller on my Gateway 233MHz machine. I have 128MB RAM and plenty of disk space. I went patiently through the setup wizard and thought I had things all set. When I ran SpamKiller for the first time on my greenbelt.com account, it flagged a ton of spam, and 3 messages that weren't spam. I was temporarily unable to recover those 3 messages until I went back and filled in the mail server address properly. From that point on things have been going fairly smoothly.

I find it quite easy to view the flagged mail and either kill it, send an error message (so it looks like it bounced), send a complaint, notify McAfee, add it to the filter list, or add it to the friend list.

I am overjoyed to see the amount of spam being killed. It is not an automatic process though. I still check each message to see why it is flagged and from time to time I designate the killed message as a friendly one which sends it back into my mailbox (this is called a rescue).

The filters can be configured to reject from particular users, from domains, from countries, because of subject line, or because of content. Friends list can be built. The documentation claims that your address book can be imported as your "friend" list. It didn't work for me because I don't use Outlook and it couldn't figure out what to do with my Netscape address book.

I have been using a DSL line lately and am happy with the speed in general.

One thing I would complain about is the time it takes to update the filter and friends lists. You can only add one domain/email at a time and the average time I have to wait for the update to complete is about 2.5 minutes. This may be a processor issue since mine is only a 233MHz chip. But, if I see 10 spam messages and want to add the sender to the filter list, that takes me a total of 25 minutes. I can blast them instantly in no time, but to add to the filter is 2.5 minutes each.

I added my wife's email mailbox to the SpamKiller list of users and now we're both killing our spam. (Shame on me for not doing this from the start.) We are both generally happy with the package. It is easy to configure multiple mailboxes.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

One thing I didn't mention is that McAfee installs the McAfee Security Center. SpamKiller is one of the components. I also have VirusScan Online, another component of the Security Center. The other 2 components are a firewall and a privacy package. When you get one component, you get the Security Center but when it loads it tells you that you aren't protected from virus/hacker/privacy. I only mention this because the Security Center is a sort of marketing tool that is one layer above the SpamKiller. It might entice others to buy the other packages.

I got a virus a few years back and that is when I went to VirusScan Online from McAfee. Never had a virus since. I have Zone Alarm freeware [firewall] installed and so far I continue to be hacker free.

-Reviewed by Austin Conaty

SUPPLEMENTAL REVIEW:

I tried the MailWasher Pro 30-day trial. I didn't make it all the way through the 30-day period when I purchased the SpamKiller package from McAfee. In the 30 days I had grown accustomed to (spoiled by) the nice SpamKiller interface. The "paid for version" didn't hang when the filters update like the 30-day SpamKiller package did. I'm committed now to SpamKiller as I've gotten used to its interface and it fits together well with the other McAfee software I'm using.

-Supplemental review by Austin Conaty


 

    


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