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Increasing spam protection

News publication date: 
Monday, 09 January 2017
red envelopes in a bin

The number of unwanted, unsolicited emails (known as spam) is increasing. For users receiving such emails, this is annoying, timewasting and, at times, offensive. There is also an increasing number of spam emails sent from within the University, for example, from phished email accounts. The hundreds of thousands of spam emails that these accounts send every month damages Oxford's reputation and leads to blocklistings, which impede email delivery for everyone.

Our Oxmail email servers have rated, or spam scored, email for a long time. You are probably already using these scores to filter email yourself. From 10 January 2017, IT Services will no longer just score emails but will actively reject emails with a high probability of being spam. This has been discussed at various meetings, including Network Advisory Group (NAG) and ICT Forum, and agreed by the Infrastructure IT Board.

In addition, to address the issue of phished University email accounts sending spam, we will also be scoring outgoing Nexus emails, and may reject them.  If you use the Nexus email service, you will receive an automatic, non-delivery report (NDR) for any email you send to someone outside the University which scored highly and was therefore rejected.

 A similar notification will be sent to the relevant sending system for all rejected incoming emails, however there is no guarantee that this will be relayed to the original sender.

Other measures will be introduced in due course and the system will be monitored and adjusted as needed.

If you have any questions or concerns, please see your local IT support staff or contact help@it.ox.ac.uk

For information on avoiding email scams, using email safely and more, see the Information Security website.

Please note:

Email is *not* a guaranteed delivery system, just like the post. If it is a vital email, ensure you have an additional, alternative way to check it has been received by the intended recipient, eg phoning.

IT Services already rejects the vast majority of incoming emails classified as ‘hostile’ (if they contain a known virus file for example. See Mail Relay Statistics). Initially, we expect to only reject an additional 0.25% of emails using their spam scores.