NPS Spam Manager


The NPS Spam Manager, developed by Jon Delheimer, is a means of controlling or eliminating spam (unsolicited commercial email) or other unwanted email messages. NPS staff can find the Spam Manager as an option on their personal web menu after they sign in to the NPS web site. If you opt not to configure your personal preferences in the NPS Spam Manager your email will function normally. By default, virus-infected messages are blocked and all other messages are delivered.

At the top of the NPS Spam Manager screen you will see the five menu items listed in the blue navigation bars separating major sections below. You can click on the items in the blue navigation bars to quickly jump to the section of this web page which describes that item.


    Edit Allow List     Edit Block List     Work with Held Email     Options     Quit    

Work with Held Email

The first screen you will see when you start the NPS Spam Manager will be the Work with Held Email screen. Here you may see up to three categories of held email. If you do not have any held email messages in a particular category you will not see that category listed in this screen. If you have not selected the hold-email option (described in the Options section below) then you will not see any categories of held email other than virus-infected messages. If you choose to do nothing with your held messages they will be purged automatically from the system after 7 days. Each of the held message categories have certain action buttons (blue links) which may be exercised by clicking on their blue text.

Infected: The email server has detected a virus in these messages but do not worry... they will not be delivered to you! Virus-infected messages are listed here merely to inform you (1) that someone attempted to send you an infected message, and (2) that the email server has blocked the delivery to prevent your computer and user profile from infection.

This is an example of a list of virus-infected messages 
you might see in your Work with Held Email screen.
  • Delete all infected messages - This is your only action button for virus-infected messages. It deletes the messages and removes them from your list of held email. You do not have the choice of receiving or reading virus-infected messages.

Spam: We use commercial software that is quite good at identifying many spam messages. Please keep in mind that the NPS Spam Manager can reduce - but not eliminate - spam messages. The messages it identifies as spam are almost certainly spam (I have yet to see a counterexample). But to achieve that level of proficiency it allows messages through when it is less than certain. The block-spam option (described below in the Options section) allows the NPS Spam Manager to delete the messages it identifies as spam so they never appear in your list of held email or in your mailbox.

This is an example of a list of spam messages you 
might see in your Work with Held Email screen.
  • Delete all spam messages - This action deletes all of the messages in the spam list.
  • click to reveal - This action reveals (the beginning of) the subject line of an email message. By default the subject lines are hidden as some may contain offensive language or references.
  • deliver - This action causes the held message to be delivered to you. You can view it with your other email messages.

Unknown: These are messages that did not fit into either the Infected or Spam categories above and did not match any of the rules which you may have previously established in your Block and Allow Lists. The Block and Allow Lists are described in their respective sections below.

This is an example of a list of held messages you
might see in your Work with Held Email screen.
  • Delete all unknown messages - This action deletes all of the messages in the unknown list.
  • allow:user - This action adds the sender of this email message to your Allow list and delivers the email message to you. In the example above, clicking on the "allow:user" action to the right of dg@conniespizza.com would add dg@conniespizza.com to the list of people from whom you always allow email (i.e., email from that person will not be held or blocked in the future unless it contains a virus).
  • allow:domain - This action adds this domain (email server) to your Allow list and delivers the email message to you. In the example above, clicking on the "allow:domain" action to the right of dg@conniespizza.com would inform the system you wish to receive all messages from anyone at conniespizza.com (i.e., email from that domain will not be held in the future).
  • block:domain - This action adds this domain (email server) to your Block list and deletes the email message. In the example above, clicking on the "block:domain" action to the right of dg@conniespizza.com would inform the system you never wish to receive any messages from anyone at conniespizza.com (i.e., email from that domain will be automatically deleted in the future). Depending on the domain, this action could block email from thousands - or even millions - of users so please carefully consider the full effect of this action before clicking on it.

    If you change your mind about which people or domains should be in your Allow or Block lists then you can modify the lists to suit your needs. More details on this are in the Edit Allow List and Edit Block List sections below.


    Edit Allow List     Edit Block List     Work with Held Email     Options     Quit    

Edit Block List

The NPS Spam Manager Block List allows you to identify individual email accounts or entire email domains from which you prefer not to receive email. Any messages from the accounts and domains listed in your Block List will be blocked (deleted) without notification to either you or the sender - provided the rules in your Block List are not in conflict with more specific rules in your Allow List. (Rule conflicts are discussed in more detail below.)

These rules affect only your email. If the message is addressed to multiple recipients your Block List and Options will have no effect on the other recipients. Note: Messages from NPS email accounts will not be blocked unless they contain a virus. As explained in the Options section of this document, the rule to deliver email from NPS accounts overrides your personal Block List and Options.

The Add Addresses button is the only button that will appear until you have at least one entry in your Block List. You can use it to add entries (individual email addresses or domains) to the list. You can enter multiple addresses at the same time by putting each one on a separate line. After you have entered the addresses and domains you wish to block you must click on the Block Addresses button to save them to your personal Block list.

The 'Add Addresses' window allows you to enter 
email addresses or domains you wish to add to the 
NPS Spam Manager Allow and Block lists.

Valid entries can have one of two forms. The image above provides examples of an individual email address, badguy@yahoo.com, as well as a domain @badplace.com. The domain form will match any and all email addresses from that domain. The example above would block messages from john@badplace.com, jane@badplace.com, or any other email account that ends in "@badplace.com". If you replaced the first entry above, badguy@yahoo.com, with @yahoo.com then you would no longer receive email from the many millions of Yahoo email accounts so use caution when you block entire domains!

After you have entered one or more addresses or domains you wish to block they will appear in a list such as this:

Sample list of email addresses and domains 
that could be entered into the NPS Spam Manager 
Allow or Block lists.

The buttons along the top of the list allow you to modify the entries in the list. To the far right of each address (or domain) you will see a checkbox. The four buttons to the right of the Add Addresses button all require you have one or more addresses selected by placing a checkmark in their checkbox before they understand which addresses to modify.

The Block Domain button allows you to convert the selected individual email addresses in your Block List into blocked domains. Caution: One blocked domain can block millions of email addresses!

The Change Comment button allows you to add or modify the comment field for each selected entry in the list. Comments are a good way to make a note to yourself about the address - such as the real name of the person or the reason you've blocked them.

The Delete button removes the selected entries from your Block List.

The Allow button removes the selected entries from your Block List and adds them to your Allow List.

Rule Conflicts: When there is a conflict between rules in your Allow List and your Block List, the more specific address match is used. For example, if the Block List has the entry @ou.edu and the Allow List has the entry friend@ou.edu, then all email from ou.edu will be blocked except when it is from friend@ou.edu. Conversely, if the Allow List has the entry @ou.edu and the Block List has the entry nemesis@ou.edu, then all email from ou.edu will be allowed except when it is from nemesis@ou.edu.

The block:domain button in the Work with Held Email section and the Block button in the Edit Allow List sections are also able to add entries to your Block List.


    Edit Allow List     Edit Block List     Work with Held Email     Options     Quit    

Edit Allow List

The NPS Spam Manager Allow List enables you to identify individual email accounts or email domains from which you prefer to always receive email. Any messages from the accounts and domains listed in your Allow List will be always be delivered, provided they do not contain a virus and the rules in your Allow List are not in conflict with more specific rules in your Block List. (Rule conflicts are discussed in more detail in the Edit Block List section of this document.)

You do not need to add NPS email accounts to your Allow List. All virus-free email messages originating from NPS accounts will be delivered by the NPS email server.

The mechanics of the Edit Allow List window of the Spam Manager are so similar to those in the Edit Block List window that the user is referred to that section of this document for operational instructions.


    Edit Allow List     Edit Block List     Work with Held Email     Options     Quit    

Options

When an email message arrives at the NPS email server it is subjected to a series of questions or rules that determine what happens to it. A message is subjected initially to question #1 below. If question #1 is relevant for that message then it determines the fate of that message (whether it is delivered, deleted, held, etc.). If question #1 is not relevant then the message is passed to question #2. If question #2 is not relevant then the message is passed to question #3, and so forth until either the fate of the message has been determined or all rules are exhausted. If none of the rules are relevant for that message then, by default, the message is delivered. Questions 4, 5, and 6 pertain to options you can enable in the Options screen of the NPS Spam Manager.

  1. Does the message contain a virus?
    • Yes: Block the message. Email messages which contain a virus are never forwarded. You can see a listing of the virus-infected messages which were addressed to you but blocked by our server in the Work with Held Email screen (see that section for more details).
    • No: Pass the message to the next question.
  2. Is the message from an NPS email account?
    • Yes: Deliver the message. Email messages from NPS accounts are always delivered, provided this does not violate the virus rule above.
    • No: Pass the message to the next question.
  3. Is the sender or the sender's domain listed in your Allow or Block lists?
    • Yes: Allow or block the message as appropriate. Email messages from accounts or domains listed in your Allow list are delivered to you and email messages from accounts or domains in your Block list are deleted, provided this does not violate either of the rules above. When there is a conflict between the Allow list and the Block list, the more specific address match is used. For example, if the Block list has the entry @ou.edu and the Allow list has the entry friend@ou.edu, then all email from ou.edu will be blocked except when it is from friend@ou.edu. Conversely, if the Allow list has the entry @ou.edu and the Block list has the entry nemesis@ou.edu, then all email from ou.edu will be allowed except when it is from nemesis@ou.edu.
    • No: Pass the message to the next question.
  4. Is the block-all option enabled?
    • Yes: Block (delete) the message, provided this does not violate rules 1-3 above. Be careful with this option. It takes precedence over the hold-email option described below and blocks all outside (non-NPS) email that is not explicitly allowed. There is no way to block messages from NPS addresses (i.e., email addresses ending in @norman.k12.ok.us).
    • No: Pass the message to the next question.
  5. Is the block-spam option enabled? Is this message spam?
    • Yes: If you have indicated you prefer not to receive spam messages and our SpamAssassin spam recognition system identifies the message as spam then block (delete) the message. Though unlikely, it is possible for the computer to flag legitimate email as spam. Use this option at your own risk.
    • No: If the answer to either or both of the questions is "no" then pass the message to the next question.
  6. Is the hold-email option enabled?
    • Yes: Hold the message in the Spam Manager (up to 7 days) to give you the opportunity to decide whether it should be deleted or delivered. Held email messages are automatically removed after 7 days so be sure to check the Spam Manager at least once per week. If you opt to hold email messages we recommend you check them once per day - perhaps more often if you are expecting a message from someone not in your Allow list. Without this option enabled, all virus-free email, that is not explicitly blocked, will be delivered.
    • No: Deliver the message. If none of the rules above pertain to a message then, by default, it will be delivered.


    Edit Allow List     Edit Block List     Work with Held Email     Options     Quit    

Quit

Just as it sounds... Selecting Quit from the menu at the top of the screen will quit the NPS Spam Manager and close (exit) the window.


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This page last updated August 17, 2007. We have made every reasonable attempt to insure that our web pages are educationally sound and do not contain links to materials that violate the Norman Public School District's Policies on Internet and Internet Safety for the Computer Network. Opinions expressed on these web pages do not necessarily reflect those of the Norman Public School District. For more information concerning this site please email webmaster@norman.k12.ok.us.