March 18, 2005

Why spam-filter testing is largely a disaster

Author: Ian Palmer

When Adam Kolawa's company recently installed some spam filters, people were assigned to tweak the applications based on input employees provided about legitimate mail that was being flagged and spam that was sneaking through. The end results of the robust rollout effort, said Kolawa, co-founder and president of Parasoft, are spam filters that actually work.

"Testing is generally not done very well," said Kolawa, whose Monrovia, Calif.-based company provides automated error prevention software. "Testing is a complicated process.It's like an experimental science. The problem is most people think testing is trivial."

As it turns out, this "trivial" attitude can actually end up jabbing businesses where it hurts most -- in their corporate wallets. U.S. companies are losing billions of dollars a year due to the costs of dealing with spam, sources have said. And some experts contend that 70 percent or more of the messages sent on the Internet nowadays is spam. So enterprises need to be diligent when it comes to stemming the tide of digital sewage relentlessly flooding their inboxes.

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