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Q - How do I configure the spam filter?

A - Managing the spam mail filter settings

Plesk allows for setting up and using black lists and white lists for filtering mail at the server level as well as at the user level.

The user level spam filter functionality is available for each specific mail name configured as a mailbox. That means that the Mailbox functionality should be activated for the selected mail name.

If the spam filtering functionality is enabled for users by the Administrator, it should first be activated. To do that:

  1. Go to the selected Mailbox management page (select the mail name and click the Mailbox icon, Tools group);
  2. Check the Enable spam filtering checkbox;
  3. Click OK to save changes.

You will see the Spam Filter icon become active (displayed in color), meaning that the spam filtering functionality is now available for this mail name. If the spam filtering functionality was not enabled for the users by the Administrator, the Enable spam filtering checkbox at the Mailbox management page will be inactive and the Spam Filter icon will also be inactive (displayed in gray).

Click on the Spam Filter icon to access the Spam filter configuration page, where you can set the filtering rules for the selected mail name.

If the Administrator has set up and activated mail filter at the server level, all the incoming mail will be processed with it before it reaches the users’ mailboxes. You can choose to use or, on the contrary, not use the server wide settings for your mail. If you decide not to use the server wide settings, those will be disregarded and your mail will be processed only according to the configuration you set at the user level.

  1. To use (not use) the server wide mail filtering settings, check (uncheck) the Use server wide settings checkbox;
  2. Click Set to save the changes.

In order to recognize a mail message as spam it needs to score a certain amount of hits. The hits are scored according to the internal SpamAssassin settings and based on the contents of the mail messages and its subject. You can change the sensitivity of the spam filter by varying the amount of hits required for marking a message as spam. The more hits are required the less sensitive the filter is, and vice versa – the less hits are required the more sensitive the filter is.

  1. The default amount of hits is set to 7. If you wish to change this value, click into the Hits required for spam input box and type in the new value.
  2. Click Set to save the changes.

You can choose what to do with the mail recognized as spam: you can choose to either delete it, or to mark it as spam and leave it in the mailbox.

  1. Select the Delete radio-button to delete mail recognized as spam, or the Mark as spam and store in mailbox radio-button to leave the mail marked as spam in your mailbox;
  2. Click Set to save the changes.

If you decide to leave the mail recognized as spam in your mailbox such messages will be marked correspondingly so that they can be easily visually identified. In particular, a special string is added to the subject of the message (e.g., by default the string *****SPAM***** will be added to the spam messages subjects). You can change this string (or tag) to whatever you like, or even to disable this option.

  1. In order to activate/deactivate the option of modifying the spam messages subject, check the Modify spam mail subject;
  2. To change the text of the string, click into the input field and enter the new text;
  3. Click Set to save the changes.

Black list is a list of E-mail addresses, which are automatically considered as sending unsolicited mail – spam. Therefore, all messages coming from the E-mail addresses that match those specified in the black list will automatically be marked as spam.

You can add to the black list either exact E-mail addresses or patters, using wildcards (‘*’, e.g.: entry ‘*@spammers.online.com will cause all messages coming from the domain spammers.online.com be marked as spam, regardless of what the exact mail name is).

  1. Enter the E-mail address or pattern into the Email pattern input field;
  2. Click Add to add the new entry to the black list, the new entry will appear in the user’s black list section.

The Administrator’s black list section contains the server wide black list entries that were added by the Administrator. If you chose to use the server wide filtering settings (the Use server wide settings checkbox checked) you may wish to edit this section by removing unnecessary entries. To do that, just select the Administrator’s black list entry and click Remove.

White list contains E-mail addresses, which are automatically considered as trustworthy. Therefore, all messages coming from the E-mail addresses that match those specified in the white list will never be marked as spam.

You can add to the white list either exact E-mail addresses or patters, using wildcards (‘*’, e.g.: entry ‘*@your-company.com will cause all messages coming from the domain your-company.com not be marked as spam, regardless of the content of a message).

  1. Enter the E-mail address or pattern into the Email pattern input field;
  2. Click Add to add the new entry to the white list, the new entry will appear in the user’s white list section.

The Administrator’s white list section contains the server wide white list entries that were added by the Administrator. If you chose to use the server wide filtering settings (the Use server wide settings checkbox checked) you may wish to edit this section by removing unnecessary entries. To do that, just select the Administrator’s white list entry and click Remove.

You can train your mail filters on actual messages you receive. Click the Training icon in the Tools group to access the Spam filter training page. The headers for all mail that comes to your mailbox will are listed here. Each such header you can select to mark as spam, ham (good mail) or forget.

  • Marking a header as spam will result in recognition of same or similar mail as spam;
  • Marking a header as ham will result in recognition of same or similar mail as not spam;
  • Option forget clears the database of any rules (spam or ham) previously set for this header.

Once you select one of the options, appropriate rules will be added to the spam filter database, which will allow in the future to recognize messages similar to the ones it was trained on, and make decisions regarding whether a message should be considered spam or not based on that.

Use the Clear button if you want to clear the spam filter’s database.

Click OK to save the changes and return to the Spam Filter page.

This concludes setting up the user level spam mail filter. All the incoming mail for the selected mail name will be processed according to these settings.