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February 2000

Junk Spy version 1.0

By: Wilson Rook wrook@walkabout.org

To Junk Spy or not.

Junk Spy is not Junk and it is not someone spying on you. It is a tool to help sort your mail. There are a number of characteristics that identify bogus junk mail, This product automates the process of identifying these characteristics and takes proper action which can be customized by the end user.

As an ISP, I have many customers who are just plain sick of spam. I have been reviewing a number of products to aid in the fight against spam. While there are many potential solutions, I especially like my Junk Spy/PMMail combination. Some solutions identify a potential piece of spam and refuse or delete the message. If an e-mail is improperly identified, your mail is lost. Even Junk Spy has the option to auto delete identified spam. In my configuration, however, due to requirements of PMMail, this identify and destroy is not an option. Junk Spy works with PMMail's filter capabilities to allow the redirection of mail to the trash folder or even a special folder. This is really great because it gives you the chance to salvage a misidentified message.

Junk Spy installed and worked very well with PMMail . There were no problems with my main e-mail account hosted on an old OS/2 Power Web Server nor on my New Inet.mail Pro OS/2 Mail Server. Junk Spy sits between your mailer program and your email server. As it downloads mail it uses a proprietary database and detection algorithm to determine what is and what is not spam, before sending it on to your mail program. Sort of like an Anti-virus program, you can get periodic updates from Sundial's website to update and refine this determination. The mail was placed in the folder specified in the PMMail filter. Within PMMail , I was able to set my trash folder to deleted messages on shutdown. PMMail requires that the message be downloaded and sent to the filter and not be deleted on the fly by Junk Spy.

After a few days of operation, I have almost forgotten about Junk Spy. Its operation is very transparent and trouble free. Of course I did review my "Junk Spy" folder in PMMail to find that Junk Spy identified a "Happy Valentines Day", from a "Secret Admirer". To some this may look like an important message - It is not. I did not check the message as it is my professional opinion that is will be an advertisement for a site that I do NOT want to go to. Now dealing with spam is as simple as a quick review of the Subjects and Senders followed by a "select all" and "delete" from a presorted spam folder.

As my confidence of Junk Spy improves, I foresee the day where I send the filtered mail directly to the trash. In the mean time, I know that I am receiving all of my mail. I know no one else is censoring my mail. I have a quick easy way to deal with spam. While this is not the only way for Junk Spy to function, it works very well for me. Yes, this is my personal endorsement for this tool. An endorsement for a tool that works.

Junk Spy is a product of Sundial Systems Corporations, http://www.sundialsystems.com/ .

The Installation.

The 743K download file unzipped and installed simply and quickly. An option for accessing mail via dial-up was available or it can be selected later in the "Junk Spy", "Settings", "Post Office ..." settings. I did not select this option and continued under the assumption that Junk Spy would function over my network connection, which it did.

TCP/IP 4.1 or not TCP/IP 4.1. As the brave yet sometimes foolish soul that I am, I choose to continue installation with the 4.1 TCP/IP Stack. The Install program reviewed my TCP/IP configuration and did not find any other problems. The Installation completed successfully on the first try.

I elected to read through the "E-mail Getting Started Guides," which were found open on my desktop hidden under some other open folders. A quick Ctrl-Esc brought up the window list and I was moving on. The "E-mail Getting Started Guides" consist of HTML documents that provide final configuration of your particular e-mail client. Directions are provided for Post Road Mailer, MR/2 Ice, Netscape 2.02, 4.04 & 4.61, jStreet, Polarbar, and my favorite PMMail . Generic directions are also provided.

The guides provide a brief overview of the operation of Junk Spy. The changes are simple; Attach your pop3 server name to your mail account name with an "@" sign and change you Pop3 server to your localhost. If you don't quite understand this, read the clearly written guide. The next step is a bit more involved for PMMail requiring creation of a filter. Clear directions and graphics are provided. I wanted to sort the junk mail into its own folder on my main e-mail account. If you wish to do this, you will need to create the folder prior to creating the Filter.

I repeated the above steps for two additional e-mail accounts. These additional accounts retrieved mail from an Inet.Mail Pro server running on OS/2. My second e-mail account is configured on the server as a standard (non-virtual domain). Required changes were the same as the above account. My third account was configured on an Inet.Mail virtual e-mail domain. Virtual domains share a single IP address and are dependent on your full e-mail address in your e-mail user ID field. Accordingly, my existing "User ID" was listed as wrook@cityofmuskegon.com. I simply followed the directions in the guide and changed the line to wrook@cityofmuskegon.com@mail.cityofmuskegon.com.

All was working quite well up to this point as I have spent more time typing this review than installing Junk Spy. My first attempt of retrieving mail did not work. Junk Spy did configure the option to autostart at startup. However, I did not have to reboot after installation and Junk Spy, was not running. PMMail provided an error message indicating that it could not find the localhost Pop server. Starting the Junk Spy program brought up a window requesting the license number and Access Code. Remember, there is a different password for the Web Site "Detection Update Center" and that password will not work for registration.

The next window was a second warning about TCP/IP 4.1. [Refer to the above statement about a foolish soul]. I choose to ignore the warning and try Junk Spy. After a procedure that involved the power switch and chkdsk on startup, I went to the readme file and did a "find" on "4.2". There I found a URL listed for the TCP/IP 4.2, (a.k.a. Fixpak WR08620 a.k.a. MPTS Converged Fixpak v 5.3). [Note this Fixpak is only for TCP/IP 4.1 - Nothing is needed if you have the GA TCP/IP 4.0]. Good clean documentation.

With the 4.2 stack loaded and a clean reboot, PMMail was opened and it checked the mail automatically, I saw the Junk Spy program detect two messages. I expected the messages because I went to the Sundial site while the Fixpak was being installed and requested some Junk Mail. The first message from Sundial is a permission letter to receive two junk mails for testing. The program worked like a charm. My own test messages could be found in my inbox and the Junk mail was in my special Junk Spy folder. Of course, I don't consider the test Junk Mail from Sundial to be a a true test of filtering all Spam. However it did verify my PMMail setup and the proper installation of Junk Spy. This is the small window of the program on my desktop showing the number of messages processed.

At this point I knew the product was installed and functional. Further testing resulted in very favorable results. This month I looked at the basic setup of Junkspy out of the box. Next month I will take a further look into configuring Junkspy with PMMail as well as setting it up to work with Netscape Messenger.

For more on Junk Spy see Sundial's site - http://www.sundialsystems.com/junkspy/index.html Junk Spy can be ordered directly from Sundial Systems for $49, which includes one year of detection database updates.

PMMail/2 also mentioned in this article is a product of Blueprint Software Works Inc. - http://www.blueprintsoftware.com/

Wilson Rook is the president of a small ISP in Michigan, Internet Walkabout. Internet Walkabout <http://www.internetwalkabout.net> started providing Internet Service in late 1995 in rural Western Michigan. Walkabout provides full Internet dialup, dedicated, and hosting services. Internet Walkabout uses OS/2 as our primary server platform. We also have Linux and NT servers. We selected the best product/OS platform for each service we offer.

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