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Top Questions

What should I do if I get spam mail?

  • If you need to escalate a spam issue, please contact the Help Desk,, 510-486-4357

What if I believe I did not receive a legitimate piece of mail?

If you believe a legitimate piece of email was not delivered and may have been mistakenly identified as spam, contact the help desk at xHELP or [email protected].

Does the Berkeley Lab anti-spam solution delete any spam? / What happens to messages that are identified by the Lab anti-spam solution as spam?

Gmail's anti-spam solution labels/marks message as Spam and move them to the Spam folder.

General Questions

What is the Berkeley Lab anti-spam solution?

The Berkeley Lab anti-spam solution uses a Cisco's IronPort service that uses a combination of advanced technologies and human analysis to identify spam and prevent the delivery of viruses and other malware.

Gmail users also get the benefits of Gmail's anti-spam and anti-virus solution.

How long will messages quarantined as spam by the Ironports be held before they are deleted?

Messages identified as spam by LBL's Cisco Ironport email security appliances (Ironports) are held for 14 days, after which they are automatically deleted if the recipient has not logged in and released them.

Does the Berkeley Lab anti-spam solution block outgoing spam?

The Berkeley Lab anti-spam solution blocks both incoming and outgoing spam. This means if you try to forward an email identified as spam, your email will not be delivered.

What is spam?

Spam is unsolicited e-mail usually sent to a large number of people that usually tries to sell something or get people involved in some sort of scam. As the Internet grows, so does the problem of spam. More and more people are getting more of these spam e-mailings. For this reason, the Lab is taking steps to reduce the amount of spam we receive.

How well does the service work?

The Berkeley Lab anti-spam solution is doing an excellent job of correctly identify the majority of incoming junk mail. Of course, no system is perfect, so it will certainly miss some spam, and incorrectly identity as spam some legitimate mail as spam. Our anti-spam service has a very low false positive rate -- the number of messages it incorrectly identifies as spam -- may be in the range of 1/100,000.

Please refer to the questions above for how to report junk and false positives. Your feedback will help improve the service!

How Can I Reduce the amount of spam I receive?

  • Protect your e-mail address.
    To reduce or prevent spam to your email address, try not to give out your email address (via news postings for example) to anyone you don't know.
  • Don't Comply with Instructions in Spam Messages
    Some spam messages include instructions for supposedly removing your address from mailing lists, thus by all appearances stopping spam from that spam source. However, if you follow the instructions, chances are you are only making matters worse. Many if not most spammers use the replies to confirm addresses and identities of people who will afterwards receive even more spam. If you get spam, your best bet is to follow the procedures described in this page.
  • Note that spammers often send spam using blind-carbon-copies (bcc), a method to conceal the addressees by hiding the "To:" address.
  • For LBNL users ONLY: Use your lab-standard email address [email protected]
    Since LBNL lab-standard email addresses of the form \[email protected]\ are protected by the lab's spam-protection and virus-protection software, we recommend that you set your From: and Reply-To: addresses in your email client and any web pages to \[email protected]\ address

Legitimate companies in fact do unsubscribe as promised and we have often used such unsubscribe links with legitimate companies with good results.
These are companies whose emails to the user "make sense" because the user did business with them, e.g., bought something from them or corresponded with them.

Illegitimate companies use the unsubscribe information to confirm your address is valid. Since it is hard to know who is a criminal, if in doubt, not unsubscribe.

What if I have more questions about the Berkeley Lab anti-spam solution, which is supplied by IronPort?

You can visit IronPort 's website, If your question is related to how the service works at the Lab, please contact the Help Desk at: [email protected], 510-486-HELP, or

What other information on spam protection is available?

Technical Questions

How often do the Lab's servers get spam ID database updates?

The Lab's central email servers get spam ID database updates several times an hour.

sendmail anti-spam rules

Selective Blocking

The lab maintains a small set of server-side filters to block long-term, high volume abusers of our system.

Third Party Relay

A major contributing factor to the spam problem is the ability for spammers to relay their e-mail through third party servers, making it difficult to track it back to the originator. This is called "third-party relay."

For more information on why we need to block this kind of relaying, see this webpage entitled "What is Third-Party Mail Relay?"

Therefore, the Lab does not permit "third-party relay." Mail that comes into our server from outside the Lab that is also addressed only to addresses outside the Lab is rejected.|

Sender Address Checking

A hallmark of spam is that the sender address (the "From:" address) is often not valid, since spammers generally don't want you to be able to respond to the message. So, the sender address on all messages is now checked to make sure it at least refers to a real computer on the Internet.

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