Foothill-De Anza CC District Deploys Abaca for E-mail Protection

The Foothill-De Anza Community College District has chosen the Abaca Email Protection Gateway EPG 3000 and ReceiverNet Premium Service to provide e-mail security for faculty and staff at its two colleges and district offices.

In January 2004 the 44,000-student district installed a firewall to provide anti-spam and anti-virus protection. The firewall uses pattern-detecting software to identify suspect messages and performed fairly well at first, blocking 84 percent of spam and viruses. But after three years and 75 million messages, complaints from e-mail users began to soar, and the district decided to look for a complementary solution.

"We wanted to test solutions that took an innovative approach instead of using the same signature-based algorithm as our current firewall," said Chien Shih, director of IT. "Abaca's receiver-based technology really stood out. Instead of scanning for patterns, it examines the relationships between people who exchange e-mail. When something out of the ordinary happens, it checks for spam."

The district's IT team tested the Abaca appliance and networked service solution side-by-side with another anti-spam solution. First, they identified 26 to 30 e-mail users to serve as the test group. Next they established four test criteria: false positive rate, spam not blocked, ease of use and subjective feedback from users.

After collecting baseline statistics, the IT team tested each anti-spam product for 30 days. At the end of each test, they collected another set of statistics, as well as user feedback, about the pros and cons of each solution.

"The statistics we got back from the Abaca test really surprised us," said Shih. "Abaca's false positive rate was 0.17 percent, and the spam not blocked rate was 0.79 percent--less than one percent! The other solution we tested gave us statistical results of 1.87 percent and 2.54 percent, respectively. That's a huge difference given the enormous amount of e-mail coming into our district."

The district's test group also gave Abaca's appliance and networked service solution high marks for ease of use. "We purposely picked e-mail users who would be hard to please, the ones who complained the loudest about the spam filling up their mailboxes," said Shih. "After testing Abaca's solution, they started sending us letters of thanks and congratulations instead of complaints."

Based on the test results, the schools decided to implement the enterprise-class Abaca EPG 3000 with ReceiverNet Premium Service alongside the existing firewall. The district is in the first phase of its deployment, with 236 employees currently supported by Abaca's anti-spam solution. By the end of June 2008, all of the district's faculty and staff will be supported.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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