Voice of Experience: Garbage Disposal

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2005-03-07 Print this article Print

Rich Malone, CIO of Edward D. Jones & Co., threw staff at the brokerage firm's spam problem before automating his defenses.

Rich Malone
Edward D. Jones & Co.
St. Louis, MO.

MANAGER'S PROFILE: In charge of information-technology strategy and operations for the 83-year-old brokerage firm, which reported revenue of $2.8 billion for 2004.

SPAM HANDS: Two years ago, the company's 5,500 e-mail accounts received about 50,000 messages per day, of which at least half were spam. At the time, Edward Jones was using spam-filtering software that required manually entering rules about which messages to block (for example, those with "porn" in the subject line). To handle the task, the company employed up to eight temporary workers at a time. "That was obviously not the solution," Malone says. "Reviewing it by hand was taking up too many resources."

JUNK GLUT: Edward Jones simply couldn't keep pace with the spam. (Today, it receives 150,000 messages per day; about 77% of those are spam.) The load eventually stressed the firm's six Hewlett-Packard OpenMail servers, whose processors were active 70% to 80% of the time. That slowed down the delivery of legitimate inbound and outbound messages. "Spam used to be just annoying," Malone says. "But now it wasn't just killing productivity—it was killing our mail servers."

HIS PROJECT: Malone and his team decided to deploy the SpamSquelcher appliance from TurnTide, a startup acquired last year by Symantec. The firm installed the product in January 2004, and after six weeks of fine- tuning it was automatically blocking 55% of incoming mail as spam. Its accuracy has been improving ever since, and the firm's mail servers are running at a more comfortable 25% to 30% of total processing capacity.

STILL FIGHTING: The battle isn't over yet, though. Six months ago, Edward Jones began testing Trend Micro's InterScan Messaging Security Suite to catch the junk the TurnTide appliance misses. "We were really frustrated because we weren't finding long-term solutions. We were putting Band-Aids on the problem," Malone says. "Now we think we've found a long-term solution, but the spam world is going to keep changing."


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