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The University of Southampton

New MailScanner website underlines system's success

Published: 15 June 2006

The world's most widely-used email security and anti-spam system has just launched a new website.

According to Julian Field, who began developing MailScanner in 2000 at the School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) at the University of Southampton, the software now protects over 60,000 sites around the world, is downloaded 35,000 times per month with a further 1.8 million hits, and has had a total of 850,000 downloads to date.

Julian believes that the new website with its fully-indexed list of all the settings which will be updated automatically, and with its major speed improvements, will make the software even more popular.

He also believes that the success of his operation lies in its open source system.
He comments: "To securely perform its role, MailScanner must be reliable and trustworthy. The only way to achieve the required level of trust is to be open source, an approach that commercial suppliers are not willing to take. By virtue of being open source, the technology has been reviewed many times over by some of the world's best and brightest in the field of computer security, in both leading multi-national corporations and the best universities in the world."

Another key to the system's success is its spam-handling technology which Julian claims is ahead of the competition and can trap 98 per cent of spam with no false alarms.

He comments: "Our spam-handling features are much more flexible than other systems. Even if our system thinks a message is spam, it can still let it through but can wrap it up in another message so that if it is offensive, it won't hit you in the face."

The success of MailScanner can be judged from the fact that it is used in some of the world's leading organizations, including Vodafone Europe, US Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, Harvard, MIT, and Cambridge universities, and Amnesty International, Friends of the Earth and the British Antarctic Survey. The technology is fast becoming the standard email solution at many ISP sites for virus protection and spam filtering.

Notes for editors

  1. Open source software are applications where the source code of the software is open for review and audit. In MailScanner's case, this is particularly important as it allows users to carry out full security audits of the program, and check for any security issues themselves. It also often means that users of the software can modify the application for their own particular needs and requirements, to build their own custom applications.
  2. Julian Field is based in the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton. He has wide experience of email systems and has been a postmaster for many years.
  3. The new MailScanner website can be accessed at:
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