Jet Aviation Eliminates Spam and Improves E-Mail Availability with ContentCatcher®: MAIL Spam Management from ClearNetwork
Businesses looking to soar above the competition in the services sector rely on e-mail communication to connect with both vendors and customers. Regardless of industry or business, e-mail is frequently one of the most critical applications for any company competing in today's marketplace. Even more critical is the actual performance of the mail system. The proliferation of unwanted e-mail, known as spam, has compromised this vital link between customers and suppliers. In addition to hindering performance, spam oftentimes enters your enterprise through the same doors that is used by viruses and worms, so solving a SPAM problem can help resolve vulnerability to viruses and worms.
Being vulnerable to various viruses and having employees spend their time sifting through the influx of spam that poured into their mailboxes didn't fly with the Chief Information Officer at Jet Aviation. Jet Aviation is the leading business aviation service company with more than 3,500 employees in over 60 facilities and locations worldwide.
Founded in 1967, the company provides maintenance, completions and engineering services, fixed-base operations, along with aircraft sales, charter, and management on a global basis. Jet Aviation's U.S. and European aircraft management and charter divisions jointly operate a fleet of more than 150 aircraft, including 35 Gulfstreams (11 Gulfstream Vs), 31 Falcons, 20 Challengers, 16 Cessna Citations, 7 Global Express and 5 BBJs, among others.
A desire to decrease their vulnerability, eliminate spam, improve the performance of their e-mail system, and protect their enterprise network coincided with a growing desire to streamline and unify their overall mail system. Jet Aviation needed to eliminate some old POP3 servers and change their Internet domain name strategy, while reducing the amount of spam received on a daily basis.
"Spam was a growing problem and the only thing we had to help us manage spam was some filtering at the firewall, which required a lot of maintenance," explained Dennis Geoffroy, worldwide CIO, Jet Aviation. "After the SoBig and Blaster viruses, matters kept deteriorating to where every user was spending the first several minutes of their day clearing 40 or more spam e-mails before they could get to work."
In addition to reducing the hindrance of sorting through mounting spam messages, Geoffroy was also concerned with the vulnerability spam creates in the enterprise network.
"Worms and viruses get in here and take not only your e-mail down, but they take all your systems down," said Geoffroy. "Because they can generate an enormous amount of traffic on their own they can use all your bandwidth and that means you can't get to your enterprise systems anymore. It's an open door that needs to be shut and secured."
"That's where ContentCatcher® comes in," added Geoffroy. "We were bombarded like every company these days with lots of spam and once we put in ContentCatcher®, it significantly improved our protection. In the first weekend alone, it saved us from going down due to the inordinate amount of SPAM generated traffic."
ContentCatcher® from ClearNetwork is an enterprise-level service that prevents unwanted messages from entering your environment and reduces IT overhead. The solution was designed from the ground up to deal with the business implications of unsolicited e-mail resulting in reduction of the risks associated with spam and attached viruses.
Geoffroy notes that the first weekend they went live with ContentCatcher over three million e-mails were prevented from entering their environment. These e-mails, which would have used all their bandwidth and brought down their server for several days, were prevented from ever entering their network environment.
"It's not just the spam issue, it's protecting us against viruses as well," said Geoffroy. "It's really securing that door by sitting in front of our firewall. It just prevents all that extra mail from getting in before it ever gets to us. It's fantastic."
ContentCatcher® includes eight different content filtering and virus protection engines on their front end, so if one piece of virus protection misses something, for instance, the others will likely catch it. Geoffroy values the benefit of multiple virus protection and filtering features and is confident that the solution effectively filters mail from both spam and viruses.
Mail filtering servers are housed at a ClearNetwork data center, where all company mail is first routed for filtering. Once the mail has completed the filtering process, it is sent to a Microsoft Exchange server at one of Jet Aviation's global sites, depending on the location of the message recipient. ClearNetwork offers customers the flexibility of housing the solution at their facility or on-premise. Regardless of server location, Geoffroy was most impressed with the low level of maintenance the solution required from the IT staff.
"The primary reason we chose ContentCatcher® is because of the low maintenance for the technical staff and user," said Geoffroy. "It's absolutely effortless."
"When we looked at other solutions, many of the products required you to set aside some staff or put more burden on the users by establishing rules that became overly burdensome. Having to maintain those rules took more time than what you would save on deleting the spam. ContentCatcher® beat the odds in that regard. Not only was it a solution that's easy to implement, but more importantly, there is little to no maintenance going forward."
Geoffroy credits ClearNetwork with providing good advice and guidance to get them started and they followed up to make sure that the mail that needed to get through, did indeed get through. In advance of the go-live, Jet Aviation contacted key managers to set up a domain-wide authorization list. Managers created a short list of customer and supplier domain addresses with whom they frequently communicated. By compiling this information up front, notes Geoffroy, it avoided miscues with mail getting held up unnecessarily by ContentCatcher® and it avoided the hassle of relying on users to add specific senders to their individual white-lists. Once the main list is compiled, users can handle the exceptions by authorizing senders with the click of a button.
"It was really important to us that our customer mail get through right from the beginning," said Geoffroy. "When you have 2,000 users and varying levels of technical capability, a lot can go wrong. Because of those domain wide features, it saved us a lot of hassle and made it easier for our users as well."
Geoffroy admits that there was a short learning curve after implementation and quite a few skeptics.
"A few of our employees would say 'I didn't get an e-mail I was expecting,' blaming the new solution," said Geoffroy. "But ContentCatcher® improved our ability to trace e-mail problems because they can tell us when it hit their firewall, what they did with it and where it went from there. It enabled us to really pinpoint when we had internal e-mail problems and where they occurred. We were able to turn those skeptics into believers because of the improved tracking and 'trace-ability' offered through ContentCatcher®."
Geoffory advises others to have high expectations that you can implement a solution that will not require a lot of maintenance.
"When we began to evaluate the product we were quite impressed. Now that we've had the product for several months, we can honestly say that it has lived up to every expectation," said Geoffroy. "We were impressed with the team at ClearNetwork. ContentCatcher® was inexpensive, and we didn't have any capital acquisitions to make. The people at ClearNetwork hung in there with us to make the transition go smoothly, we were able to do it with no formal training."
Geoffroy explains that ContentCatcher® adds an extra mailbox that can be accessed through an icon on the Outlook toolbar where users can click to see if any of their mail has been trapped as possible spam. Anything that is infected is stopped before it hits Jet Aviation's server and ContentCatcher® notifies users if mail is in "the gray area," – anything that could possibly be viewed as spam.
"There's very effective filtering in the product and our people now are accustomed to it working as advertised," notes Geoffroy. "You don't need to check your Content Catcher® mailbox often, maybe once a day to see if someone's e-mail got trapped for a cryptic subject line or something. Additionally, it doesn't take up any space on our end, so the mail can stay there up to thirty days. It's low maintenance, very effective filtering and the traceability allows us to maintain our credibility about our own performance and this product as well."
Another benefit of choosing ContentCatcher® is the ability to have a "hot site" back up for e-mail. Should Jet Aviation's server go down, ContentCatcher® will capture their mail in the mean time so when they get back up, all their mail will be forwarded to them.
"By protecting us, it's increased our uptime and by serving as a hot site, it's given us a lot more confidence in our e-mail system," said Geoffroy. "If we do go down, we're not going to be missing any e-mail and that is so critical in our business. "What we found in the past is that our e-mail system made us vulnerable in terms of gaining access to our other application systems. E-mail was an entry point open for viruses that could ultimately bring our entire network down, thereby eliminating network access to all of our applications. With ContentCatcher®, we're much more protected and it allows us to focus on other potential gaps."
Although saving time is an intangible benefit of ContentCatcher®, Geoffroy acknowledges the effect it has on everyone's mail. While he appreciates that he's no longer burdened with sorting through junk mail first thing in the morning, the savings adds up and is realized when 2,000 people are also no longer being affected by spam.
"You're not hassled with all this other stuff, you're not distracted and you can just get right to work," said Geoffroy. "While I think that's important, the biggest benefit is really in preventing the outages."
Geoffroy recalls one particular instance where ContentCatcher® protected them from a flood of e-mails that would have caused an outage. Instead, they were able to keep out the unwanted traffic and keep their systems running.
"The solution has paid for itself with that one outage," he notes. "We would have been down for days had we been flooded with that amount of traffic. It is worth tens of thousands of dollars a day to keep our network up."
"ContentCatcher® means security, it means added up time for a mission critical system, namely e-mail, and added stability for our overall network with minimal effort."