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The University of Southampton

Downloaded 100,000 times: Southampton email security system proves its popularity

Published: 15 May 2003

A free-to-use email security system designed by computer experts at the University of Southampton has now been downloaded over 100,000 times by users around the world wanting to safeguard their computer networks from viruses and spam messages.

The system, called MailScanner, has been developed by Julian Field of the University of Southampton's world-renowned Department of Electronics and Computer Science, and currently processes over 500 million email messages every day, removing two million viruses and identifying 200 million spam messages.

MailScanner is in regular use at 20,000 sites around the world protecting all kinds of organizations, from top government departments to commercial corporations and educational institutions. The University of Southampton itself uses MailScanner to protect its own systems and it is also becoming a standard feature of many Internet Service Providers.

"I am delighted that MailScanner has built such a strong reputation for protecting computer networks," says Julian Field. "And to know that over 100,000 people around the world are using it is extremely satisfying.

"We have recently released a new version of the system, which offers even greater protection against viruses and other email-based attacks."

MailScanner scans all email for viruses, spam and attacks against security vulnerabilities. It is not tied to any particular virus scanner, but can be used with any combination of 14 different virus scanners, allowing sites to choose the 'best of breed' virus scanners. Being open source, site administrators can audit and verify the integrity of the system.

Notes for editors

MailScanner is distributed free under the GNU Public Licence.

  • Scans email for viruses using any combination of up to 14 different virus scanners
  • Automatically updates all installed virus scanners every hour, by default
  • Identifies over 95 per cent of spam using several techniques, including highly advanced heuristics
  • Spam can be tagged, rejected, discarded, archived or forwarded to other addresses for inspection by administrators
  • Pornographic spam can be stripped of all graphical content, protecting users from obscene content
  • Scans email for attacks against known and unknown security vulnerabilities in popular email applications, automatically correcting messages 'on the fly' whenever possible and quarantining dangerous sections of other messages
  • Highly scalable: 1 PC can process over 1.5 million email messages per day
  • Robust: Protects itself against 'Denial of Service' attacks and operating system resource leaks
  • Highly configurable, providing ISPs and ASPs with the possibility of using thousands of different rules and configurations for any combination of users or domains
  • Easy to set up as all configuration options are supplied with 'sensible' default
  • The new version also now includes support for the 'Postfix' mail system.

To find out more, visit the web site at or contact the team directly at

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