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Case Study: College Solves Spam and Virus Woes While Upholding Individuals' Rights and Freedoms
Roaring Penguin Software

For a higher education provider, upholding individual rights and freedoms of speech, information and privacy can be a tangled – and sometimes contradictory – web. For Ithaca College of Ithaca, New York, the search for an anti-spam solution was guided first by the principle of finding one that end-users could control.

“We wanted end-users to have as much control as possible over their spam,” confirms Lesli LaRocco, systems administrator at the college. “That's really important here, where there isn't a top-down decision-making policy about what is acceptable content.” But, academic freedom aside, a barrage of pornographic spam caused such a furor among email users that a solution to block such offenses became necessary.

Distributed Policy-Making

Ithaca College essentially required an anti-spam solution with policies that matched its own. LaRocco explains, “We have a general policy for the behavior of all users on the network but we only do things with the consensus of the community.” LaRocco's approach was to find a user-controlled product – a strategy that the college's various departmental liaisons agreed with.

“We looked at various anti-spam solutions, but all were very top-down, relying on a single source to decide what 'bad words' to filter out,” LaRocc remembers. “Also, a lot of the other solutions had features that we just didn't need, such as tools to manage users' content and avoid corporate espionage.”

After evaluating CanIt-PRO on a trial basis, Ithaca College implemented the product, which is now being rolled out the college's 7,000+ student and faculty. LaRocco says response has been excellent from both user and administrative perspectives.

(So)Big Benefits

Just as valuable, says LaRocco, is the administrative time that CanIt-PRO has saved the college – such as when the SoBig virus attacked. “When the Blaster/SoBig worms hit our campus, CanIt-PRO was invaluable both in blocking and dumping them. During those weeks, our volume of mail was five times higher than normal, and being able to stop these messages at the gate was very helpful. Without CanIt-PRO, our anti-virus software would have stripped the virus and delivered the (useless) messages, meaning our users would have received hundreds of junk mails per day in some cases.”

Flexibility and Control: All in One

LaRocco says, “Implementing CanIt-PRO has been a snap. It was easily the smoothest product rollout we've ever had. And, we rarely get a complaint about false positives or missed spam.”

“The simple GUI works really well for our users, as we have a real variety of levels of technological proficiency in this community. The GUI is so simple but it's also flexible – people who want granular control can have more complex choices, and the administrative interface is very well designed.”

LaRocco has also found maintenance and customization of the system to be simple. The college customizes the CanIt-PRO web pages “to look and feel more like our other Ithaca College web pages. Customization has been very straight forward, and from an administrative perspective, this system is as easy to maintain as any other server product that we run – it's just a few minutes a day.”

About Ithaca College
• Type: Higher education
• Number of mailboxes: 7,000+ E-mail Environment and Use

E-mail Environment and Use
• Acts as “ISP” to students and staff
• E-mail: iPlanet messaging and directory services
• Server: UNIX box running Sun Solaris 8 CanIt Results

CanIt Results
• Thorough spam control for all email users
• Minimal administrative involvement is required
• Individual users control their own levels of spam control
• Eliminated help-desk calls about spam and offensive e-mail content

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