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Configuring SpamAssassin in cPanel

tech bench 2Last time in the Tech Bench, our Director of Network Compliance, Mike Witty, discussed some of the finer points of preventing your important emails from ending up in your clients’ spam folders. For this edition, we thought we’d give you a quick how-to on using and configuring SpamAssassin — the spam software of choice — to actually grade your outgoing emails for you.

ServInt VPS accounts using the cPanel/WHM control panel come with SpamAssassin as part of the standard installation. The default configuration has SpamAssassin enabled.

If you need to reenable SpamAssassin:

-     In WHM, under Server Configuration on the top of the left-hand navigation bar, click on Tweak Settings.
-     Click the Mail tab.
-     Select On for “Enable SpamAssassin spam filter.”

Note: ServInt recommends leaving “Enable BoxTrapper spam trap” set to Off.

To force all the users on your VPS to use SpamAssassin:

-     Scroll down the left left hand navigation bar in WHM to Service Configuration and click on Exim Configuration Manager.
-     Select the SpamAssassin tab.
-     Set “Spam Assassin: Forced Global ON” to On.

This will filter all of your email for spam.  It will not, however, force your users to do anything with it after it’s filtered. It will simply mark spam as spam, nothing more.

To prevent spam from being sent from your server:

If you host email for your clients and want to prevent RBLs (Realtime Blackhole Lists) from blacklisting your server due to inadvertent (or intentional!) spam your customers might be sending, you can configure SpamAssassin to run on outgoing messages as well.

From the same Exim Configuration Manager in WHM, again click on the SpamAssassin Options tab. The bottom two options are “Scan outgoing messages for spam and reject based on SpamAssassin internal spam_score setting” and “Scan outgoing messages for spam and reject based on defined SpamAssassin score.”

The first option will grade your email based on your system’s incoming spam-scoring settings, wherever they are set. If you want to get your SpamAssassin score below a certain number value you have predefined, use the second option.

Configuring your internal SpamAssassin score threshold:

If you see too much spam getting by your filters, you can lock them down further by adjusting your internal SpamAssassin score. From the same Exim Configuration Manager in WHM, click the Filters tab and adjust the variable in the “SpamAssassin: bounce spam score threshold” box. Lowering the number will make your filters more selective.

Note: It is important to note that making any of these changes will affect all email accounts on the entire server. You should therefore make sure all your clients are aware of the settings you are changing.

Tune in to the Tech Bench next week when we discuss adjusting SpamAssassin settings in Plesk.

The Tech Bench is an ongoing blog series featuring the answers to common questions the ServInt MST fields everyday. You can find this and more great tech tips in the ServInt KnowledgeBase.

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