Thoughts on Barracudas?

Alex Neuman van der Hans alex at
Tue Aug 22 01:43:56 IST 2006

My two cents:

I've noticed that the effectiveness of a system using MailScanner *will* 
degrade as spammer tactics change, unless you properly feed and care for 
it. This is true however, for any system.

There are markets for every kind of gadget available, and that's a fact 
of life. If they are willing to spend money on an "appliance" (only a 
different box with some different software, but in the end 
*everything's* an appliance), they will go ahead and do it.

I *have* noticed, however, that there are *some* people out there in the 
IT field that lack the resourcefulness that is sometimes required when 
you're dealing with technology. These people will go out of their way to 
buy "appliances" not because it saves them money or resources (that 
*will* be their stated "reason", but you and I know it's their covert 
*excuse*), but because they can blame someone else when it breaks, 
instead of fixing it.

Spam will leak through eventually in any system. You have to train your 
users so that they don't engage in spam-attracting activities (giving 
out their e-mail address, writing it on a webpage or a forum, using 
those crappy "remind me of my birthday" address harvesters, etc.), you 
have to train your system (using bayes or whatever), you have to keep 
upgrading your protection (including more clever ways to detect spam), 
and in general, be proactive.

That said, MailScanner is like the stone in the "stone soup" tale. It 
uses third party AV scanners, third party content scanners (spamassassin 
et. al), third party MTA's (with their own milters or whatever), and 
basically scans for bad content if any of the other pieces missed 
something. It's probably the best example of a program being "much more 
than the sum of its parts".

Without knowing the specifics of the situation these few people are in, 
I'm reminded of many of my relatives who, after a year or two using 
their brand new car, realize they have to do things like realign their 
tires, change their oil, check their batteries, etc. - "I thought it 
just ran on unleaded!!". You know the type. We used to call them 
"flashing 12s" in the 80s. :-)

Julian Field wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> Folks,
> I have had some comments from a few people leaving the mailing list as 
> they are ditching their MailScanner setups and switching to Barracuda 
> applicances instead. They claim that things worked fine when they first 
> installed MailScanner, but gradually more and more spam is leaking 
> through, to the point where they have decided to abandon it.
> Here is what he said:
> "I've tried Mailscanner on FreeBSD for almost one year. It worked great
> for about two months, then after every upgrade it began to let more and
> more spam through. I've tried everything to fix it and just got tired of
> my users complaining of increased spam.
> "It wasn't worth the headache. Your forums indicate that there are
> numerous people experienced the same problems I have encountered.
> "I have since purchased a Barracuda SPAM 200 firewall. This device has
> worked much better."
> What is your opinion on the Barracuda appliance?
> How easy is it to use?
> Does it actually work?
> Can it survive the loads they say it can?
> And, of course, how does it compare with MailScanner?
> Please be open and honest, and as impartial as you can.
> All of your thoughts are most welcome.
> - -- 
> Julian Field
> Buy the MailScanner book at
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