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The Daily Tar Heel

ITS brings in new cost-cutting spam ?lter

Information Technology Services will both save money and increase efficiency with a new spam filter.

Michael Barker, assistant vice chancellor for infrastructure and operations and chief technology officer of ITS, said the new system, to be launched Friday, will catch 5 to 6 percent more spam and misidentify fewer legitimate e-mails as spam than the previous system.

“It’s better at identifying genuine spam and better at not misidentifying real messages,” he said.

He also said the new system could save UNC between $130,000 and $210,000 over a three-year span.

“This is a good example of the cost-saving efforts we are undertaking in all our operations as we are conscious in these economic times,” he said.

Efforts to find a more efficient spam and anti-virus scanning system for University-provided e-mail were headed by Tim McGuire, manager of ITS messaging services.

The old scanning system was up for renewal and ITS officials decided to go with this new solution due to the lower licensing costs it offered.

After purchasing the product from Cisco Systems Inc., McGuire and his group tested it to determine its effectiveness.

“We tested it for nine months and that’s what showed that it was a bit more accurate in identifying general spam,” McGuire said. “It didn’t identify general e-mail as spam, and it could pass more e-mail in a smaller period of time.”

The new system is more efficient, costs less money and is easier to administer, officials said.

“The system is more straightforward to administer to those who run it. It doesn’t require separate management,” Barker said.

He added that the new system is indicative of ITS’s search for ways to save time and money.

“We are always looking for opportunities to improve the system,” he added. “This new system does it at a lower cost.”

Stan Waddell, the executive director and information security officer of ITS, said there will be faster response times for new forms of spam and for new types of mail that need to be filtered under the new system.

“Better accuracy leads to an improvement in system maintenance,” he said. “If we are more effective in blocking spam, it increases overall organization. Blocking spam is a good thing for the campus.”

McGuire said he and his team are hopeful about the positive aspects of the new system.

“My administrators are really happy with the solution,” he said.

“I think it will be a better service in the end.”

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