Review: SurfControl Email Filter for SMTP

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This software was, as far as installation was concerned, a mixed bag.

This software was, as far as installation was concerned, a mixed bag. However, the performance of the internal anti-spam logic was very good indeed.

The software works best running on a separate machine to the email server, with a full GB of RAM recommended for normal operation. That was more than our test environment was configured with, but, for the purposes of equality, we made no exception to our testing regime. Nevertheless, the product did well in testing despite the apparent handicap.

We needed to install MSDE and MDAC 2.5 before we could install the software and even after that the install process took a long time. Configuration was tricky too, but telephone support was very good and we had everything working in short order.

There are several consoles and also a web-based browser to help in configuring and managing the software. Knowing where to look for particular controls and configurations is a job in itself and the vendor would be well advised to overhaul the consoles to make them simpler to use, as this would cut down on the time needed to get the application up and running. However, there is a wealth of features and filters so some complexity in the interface can be forgiven.

This product's other protective features include the ability to strip potentially malicious elements from messages, such as HTML scripts and ActiveX controls. A collection of lexical analysis tools and agents that learn to identify types of messages (such as those with adult content) flesh out the usual collection of RBLs, whitelists and message-formatting checks.

In the test, the software did particularly well in stopping nearly all of the junk mail in our sample with no false positives at all, and that was without having all the filtering enabled. It also processed the mail very quickly, despite the test system being below the recommended hardware specification. A very impressive job.

For:

Great support and fast mail processor. Best spam detection in the test.


Against:

The console could be overhauled to make life simpler and it is difficult to configure.


Verdict:

One to consider for administrators not afraid of rolling up their sleeves.

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