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Virus Bulletin finds spam filters are blocking less spam

March 2012 by Marc Jacob

Virus Bulletin, the independent security certification body, has announced the results of its latest anti-spam comparative review, which saw 20 solutions achieve a VBSpam award - but the majority displayed significantly lower spam catch rates than in other recent tests.

Overall, products’ spam catch rates were significantly lower than in previous months, in many cases products missed more than twice as much spam as in previous tests.

"This is a worrying trend," says VB’s Anti-Spam Test Director Martijn Grooten. "There have been many news stories highlighting a global decline in spam in recent months, but if spam filter performances decline too, the situation for the end-user doesn’t improve at all."

Grooten continued: "It is hard to say what exactly caused filters to miss more spam, but it looks like spammers are doing a better job at avoiding IP- and domain-based blacklists. It may be a sign that they are increasingly using compromised legitimate systems to send their messages."

The best performance in this month’s test came from Libra Esva, which blocked 99.97% of all spam messages without blocking any legitimate mail, and as such was the only product to obtain the new ’VBSpam+’ award (to qualify for the VBSpam+ award, products must achieve a spam catch rate that is higher than 99.5% and a zero false positive rate).

The VBSpam quadrant plots products’ spam catch rate against their false positive rate, with the top right-hand corner the area products should be aiming for (with maximum spam catch rate and minimum false positive rate). The front-runners in this test can clearly be seen from their positions on the quadrant at (journals and websites are permitted to reproduce this chart unedited).

The results of the March 2012 anti-spam comparative review can be seen at

The full review, including detailed results tables, is available to Virus Bulletin subscribers or can be purchased as a standalone review ($19.95)

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