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SpamAssassin: A Practical Guide to Integration and Configuration Paperback – September 27, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Alistair McDonald is a freelance IT consultant based in the UK. He has worked in IT for over 15 years and specializes in C++ and Perl development and IT infrastructure management. He is a strong advocate of open source, and has strong cross-platform skills. He prefers vim over vi, emacs over Xemacs or vim, and bash over ksh or csh. He is very much a family man and spends as much time as possible with his family enjoying life.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Packt Publishing (September 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904811124
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904811121
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,292,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jacob Hatt on February 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
I have got O'Reilly's book also, but this book is much better. It covers everything from installing spamassassin to using it as a mail gateway, which means you can do your spam filtering on a separate machine and do not have to tamper with you mail server (this allows you to use spamassassin even if Exchange is your mail server).

There is extensive coverage of various techniques to improve filtering and accuracy, making spamassassin effective for your own specific needs. The chapters on rules and using online antispam services and databases are great.

I particularly liked the information on best practices, which reflects the author's experience.

This book seems to cover every aspect of spamassassin, and it does that very well.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael Spoonfield on February 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
This excellent book is the only title I've found that covers the latest version of the SpamAssassin. It is an easy introduction

to installing, configuring, and fine tuning SpassAssassin, but it thoroughly covers all the topics I'll ever need to know about. I'm a beginner to SpamAssassin, and now feel like an expert! Even friends who already knew SpamAssassin well find themselves looking at this when they get stuck.

I found the book had plenty of coverage of SURBL. There's a whole chapter dedicated to using network tests to check URL blacklists.

Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
SpamAssassin is a common and free antispam method that is comprehensively described by this book. McDonald is writing for a sysadmin who wants an effective method to halt spam. To be sure, he cautions that SA is not 100% effective. He gives concise explanations of how to install and run it.

The most recent version surveyed here is 3.0. And there is one key innovation in it, and also in the earlier 2.63 version. Namely what it calls SURBL = Spam URI Real time Blacklist. A powerful idea. You block a message as spam, if its body has URIs in an SURBL. It should be said that it took the SA coders a long time to recognise and implement this idea.

Another issue is how to generate an SURBL. Here, the author just says that you can get these from external sources, like Spamhaus, just like you would for an RBL. More discussion here might have been helpful.

There is little recognition in the book that the SURBL method has significant advantages over a Bayesian, the latter of which gets extensive coverage. The SUBRL method is faster in extracting URIs from a message body and then comparing against the SURBL, than in comparing the message's words to the corpus of the Bayesian. All the more so if the latter word comparision is restricted to words that are not in HTML tags and are visible to the reader.

Also, if the SUBRL has domains that are definitely considered to be spammer domains, then using it is deterministic. Unlike the stochastic general nature of SA's approach, which totes up a spam likelihood score. The deterministic aspect is far stronger.

Plus, there is no need for regular manual training, as with the Bayesian - either at the user or sysadmin level. But a casual reader will miss all this. The SURBL is given minimal description.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Witten on July 13, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
... except that the book is full of typos and formatting mistakes. Don't attempt to use it without access to the SpamAssassin documentation. Once I got past that, the book is pretty useful and informative.
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0 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kyle M. Johnson on August 10, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I didn't find this book useful at all.

They do not get much into detail, expecting you know what you are doing.

Then again, I bought this book around the time that I started using linux.

The book does touch on some problems, but then just dumps you off wondering.

Also, I've found SpamAssassin to be overrated; it's only plus being the simplicity of setup.

While it is very difficult to setup, I've found that dSPAM is far superior in terms of accuracy.
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