ServersMail Management Made Easy

Mail Management Made Easy

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modusMail: Mail server with a focus on security and scalability.

The latest version on modusMail makes security and scalability an easy modus operandi.

Although there’s nothing new about e-mail, the demands it can place on an organization continue to increase. Today’s huge message volume is due both to widespread reliance on e-mail throughout most organizations and the flood of unsolicited and malicious mail (i.e., spam, phishing attempts and virus-laden attachments) that accounts for more than half of the total message volume in some cases.

Montreal-based Vircom targets its modusMail family of mail servers at organizations with serious mail management needs. The mail sever, for Windows 2000 Server or Windows 2003 Server systems, can scale in multiple dimensions. The product itself is available with or without anti-spam updates and anti-virus updates. Packages with anti-spam subscriptions also receive updates to anti-phishing filters.

Depending on the message volume, organizations can scale the system footprint of modusMail by either running the entire server on one back-end server or breaking out its quarantine or Webmail databases to separate individual servers. ModusMail’s flexible database architecture supports the use of MS SQL2000+, MS SQL Express, PostgreSQL (included with the installation) or MSDE, depending on the organization’s performance needs.

ModusMail’s 90MB full download installs into 200MB of disk space, plus another 100MB if you opt for the PostgreSQL database installation. The modusMail graphics installer first checks that the server is assigned a domain suffix and that it has Microsoft .NET framework 1.1 installed before the installation proceeds.

Unfortunately, the .NET version check failed on our test machine with the newer .NET version 2.0 installed. Downgrading to 1.1 enabled the installation to continue. Otherwise, the installation completes with ease. ModusMail installs as a system service on either supported Windows Server version, and it restarts itself if the service should hang or otherwise fail.

As one would expect, modusMail covers all the mail server basics: support for POP3 (SSL/TLS) and IMAP4 mailboxes, SMTP and ESMTP sending and delivery, and out-of-office autoreplies. ModusMail also includes a Webmail server for clients to access and manage e-mail remotely through any common browser. This also supports remote Web-based administration of the server when away from a machine on which Vircom’s administration console locally installed.

Enterprise and ISP-oriented features include integration with billing systems, such as EcoBuilder, Emerald, Platypus, RODOPI and Worldgroup. ModusMail supports three basic types of user authentication: basic registry, NT SAM and external authentication. Larger organizations will typically opt for external auth, with support that includes (but is not limited to) LDAP, Radius and ODBC. Only one type of external authentication can be used.

ModusMail offers three kinds of message filters, all of which can banish suspicious e-mails to the quarantine database for later management. The anti-spam filter can be configured with Sieve scripts, an open standard for defining spam filter criteria, in addition to whitelists and real-time blacklist (RBL) support.

Besides filtering spam on text content, modusMail claims a 98 percent success in identifying image spam, the latest attempt to beat text-based filters. Bundled with the anti-spam filter is Vircom’s anti-phishing filter, which works much the same way. With an ongoing subscription to Vircom’s anti-spam update service, both the spam and phishing signature databases can be updated as often as every 15 minutes or as infrequently as every two weeks.

The anti-virus filter includes a built-in scanning engine. It receives its virus fingerprint database from either Norman Data Defense or McAfee, depending on which service the administrator prefers. The virus database can be automatically updated as often as every 15 minutes and no longer than every 12 hours, ensuring fresh protection.

Versions of modusMail with either anti-virus or anti-spam support also include attachment blocking. Admins can add or remove attachment extensions to one of three blocking levels — normal, strong and extreme — which can later be assigned to the mailboxes of individual users or groups. ModusMail “fingerprinting” determines the real type of an attachment, even if its filename extension has been changed. Also included is a language filter that can tag or quarantine messages deemed to primarily contain text in two dozen languages.

Besides standard user mailboxes, modusMail supports fully automated mailing list processing. The list processor supports the usual subscribe and unsubscribe requests, and includes a simple scripting and templating language to customize message processing.

Pros:Fast setup; Easy intuitive administration; System scalability.
Cons: Limited to Windows Server platform; Anti-spam requires additional subscription beyond first year.

Reviewed by: Aaron Weiss
Original Review Date: 11/29/2006
Original Review Version: 4.4

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