White Paper: Controlling Unwanted Content
Unwanted Content: Problems
Controlling email content and attachments requires technologies above and beyond those of virus and spam filtering. Viruses are spread through executable attachments, worms are self-propagating, and spam typically travels in the form of text or HTML content. But content that can be considered offensive, sensitive, or inappropriate is often subjective, harder to differentiate from spam or viruses, and can be delivered in a variety of different formats including body copy , image, or text URLs (website addresses), and video, audio,
attachments. Protecting against this variety of unwanted content requires an array of filtering techniques that take subjective preferences into account. Consider the following categories of unwanted content:
Although most spam is merely annoying, containing advertisements for unwanted products or services, spam can also contain offensive descriptions or images of explicit sexual acts, or offer links to websites that contain this content. Pornographic spam can be filtered with the techniques used to detect non- pornographic spam, which includes using a combination of blacklists, keyword searches, and attachment stripping programs. But this approach is usually reactive rather than proactive, meaning that it’s only capable of blocking pornographic emails already recognized by anti-spam databases. Without sophisticated content filtering techniques, most pornographic images, or sexually provocative emails written by employees, can be sent undetected.
OFFENSIVE AND DEFAMATORY EMAIL
Employees often use email to share material they think is funny and amusing – the same material, however, others may find offensive, racially insensitive, or sexually harassing. If this offensive material enters just one employee’s inbox, and is then passed onto others, it can soon be read by hundreds of employees or even find its way to customers, business partners, or vendors.
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