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SpamAssassin 3.3 Changes the Rules

· Web Dev Zone

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Today, the Apache's SpamAssasin squad released version 3.3 of "The Powerful #1 Open-Source Spam Filter."  The project developers are calling this a major release, making 3.3 only the fourth major release in the project's two-and-a-half year history as a Top-Level Project.  After a little Y2K10 bump in the road, SpamAssassin is back on track with a new updating design.

Version 3.3 has modified the way SpamAssassin updates its spam rules.  The automatic update feature, "sa-update", is a time-saving function that now helps email administrators in addition to end-users.  Rules have been completely separated from the core product and they can only be downloaded through sa-update.  This feature was optional in version 3.2, but since it was so popular, the developers decided to make it a core component.  

SpamAssassin has a wide array of spam-killing weapons at its disposal.  It uses DNS and checksum based spam detection, Bayesian filtering, external programs, and online databases.  Spam scoring determines if a message is marked 'ham' or 'spam' (a negative overall score is spam and positive overall is ham).  The program is written in Perl and it can run as a standalone application, a subprogram of another application, or as a client that communicates with a daemon.  Even if SpamAssassin is used as a system-wide filter, it can still be configured by each user for their own personal mailbox preferences.

Leading up to the 3.3 release, SpamAssassin had to deal with the Y2K10 bug.  Earlier this month, users needed to update their rules in order to prevent emails from getting up to 3.6 points marked towards the spam classification.  This was one more reason to make SpamAssassin more dependent on sa-updates for rule revisions.

Many people depend on SpamAssassin.  It is deployed by hundreds of thousands of organizations worldwide.  Those organizations range from large, Fortune Global 500 companies, to small companies, governments, and individuals.  Many commercial offerings such as Lyris MailShield, CleanMail Server, and McAfee Spam Killer, use SpamAssassin.  NetGUARD has been using SpamAssassin since the 1.0 version was released 8 years ago.  That was before it became a Top-Level Project.  Jean-Yves Avenard, the System Admin at Hydrix Pty Ltd, said,  "Over the past 365 days, SpamAssassin has blocked 516,975 unsolicited junk mails while letting through 85,032 clean ones.  Without SpamAssassin email would simply be unusable.  It is an essential component to our business activities."

You can download Apache SpamAssassin 3.3 on the project website.

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