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Higher Ed Confronts Spam with Proofpoint

Three institutions of higher education--CUNY, Fayetteville State, and St. Cloud State--have gone public with their battle against e-mail spam with long-time use of an application from Proofpoint. Each institution is using Proofpoint Enterprise Protection, a set of tools for anti-spam, anti-virus, e-mail policy enforcement, and data loss prevention. The program lets end users receive digests of blocked messages and can choose which messages they want to release for reading. They can also maintain their own safe and blocked sender lists.

Fayetteville State University adopted Proofpoint in August 2009 as an appliance for inbound e-mail protection to block spam and outbound message filtering to prevent data leakage. Previously, the university's 1,800 faculty and staff e-mail inboxes ran on Cisco IronPort for spam detection and prevention. The North Carolina university also replaced an installation of Symantec's Enterprise Vault for legal e-discovery work with Proofpoint's Enterprise Archive.

St. Cloud State University in Minnesota began using Proofpoint's security appliance in June 2007 to protect 18,000 campus inboxes from viruses and spam. Spam made up about 83 percent of the total inbound mail during 2009. Prior to adopting the appliance, the IT department spent one to two hours each day manually updating a spam filtering service. Now, maintenance takes one to two hours per week, the university said in a statement. St. Cloud State also makes available Symantec anti-virus software free to the campus community to protect their home computers.

City University of New York runs 250,000 campus e-mail boxes across 12 school sites on LSMTP, a high-performance SMTP mail server from L-Soft. After consulting with technology analyst firm Gartner and evaluating several offerings, including Cisco IronPort, CUNY chose in 2004 to license Proofpoint based on pricing, functionality, and customer service.

"CUNY required an easy-to-implement, accurate anti-spam solution to safeguard our faculty, student, and staff's messages," said Phil Craig, e-mail administrator at CUNY. "When we installed Proofpoint, we started tackling this issue with very little adjustment on our part, and everyone from CUNY's senior administration to our students have noticed Proofpoint's spam-blocking impact. In a 30-day span, Proofpoint Dynamic Reputation has dropped over 9 million messages, ensuring that our systems do not even process this high volume of spam."

Editor's note: This article has been modified since its original publication to reflect a change in the name of the product from Proofpoint Enterprise and Protect to Proofpoint Enterprise Protection. [Last updated Sept. 24, 2010 at 9:04 a.m.] --David Nagel

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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