Author Topic: Email Utility: MailWasher  (Read 971 times)

Offline Neon

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Email Utility: MailWasher
« on: Dec 20, 2002, 12:19 AM »
MailWasher 2.0

MailWasher 2.0 email checker for Windows XP/2000/NT4/ME/98/95.
Download MailWasher 2.0.19 beta for Windows - 1319KB executable file

All email users are painfully aware of the tidal waves of filthy spam clogging their inboxes. MailWasher helps turn the tide by combining several spam-cleansing screens into a single clean application. It is quite flexible, and gives you a high degree of control over rinse options.

*Delete unwanted emails directly from the POP3 mail server - they never have to be written to the hard drive.
*Bounce unwanted emails to sender - it will appear to the sender as if your email address is not valid.
*Analyze and categorize - each email header on the server is evaluated by heuristic checking and filtering, and then classified as normal, a virus, spam, a chain letter, or blacklisted (default DNS blacklist servers are ORDB, VISI, and Spam Cop, but others may be added).
*Blacklist or whitelist addresses - put the baddies on the blacklist, put your pals on the whitelist. Auto-bounce and delete blacklisted emails off the server.
*Preview message headers and/or bodies - peek at the message text only before downloading the whole thing.
*Filter addresses and messages - customizable list of blacklisted e-mail senders and/or regular expressions.
*Query all accounts periodically - multiple email POP3 servers are supported, and can auto-query in background at user-defined intervals, or manually with one button.

Installation and Setup:
The program comes as a self-installing executable, and installation went quickly and smoothly in Win2K. Initial coniguration consists of entering the POP and SMTP server addresses for your accounts, selecting an email application, and deciding on some rules for filtering, bouncing, etc.

Once configured, MailWasher quietly monitors the mailservers in the background. When new mail arrives on the server, MailWasher will handle each email according to your set of rules. MailWasher does not actually integrate with any email application, rather it simply launches the app when you are ready to download the emails from the server.

The spartan interface includes a list of emails waiting on the servers for download. Each line in the list gives information on origin, date, size, subject line, and color-coded status. Possible actions include delete, bounce, blacklist, whitelist, download header, download message body text, and launch email application for download. The unregistered version also includes a scrolling banner at the top, which disappears if you pay a registration fee of $20.

Checking mail on the server is an advantage because it improves security in several ways. Harmful virus attachments and objectionable material never make it onto the computer's hard drive. HTML-formatted spam messages that contain "web bugs" do not get opened and phone home to remote servers. Each HTML-formatted spam consumes about 20-50 KB - not a lot of bandwidth, but the deluge adds up. Deletion of junk from the server thus protects some of the bandwidth that you pay for from theft by spammers.

Now it gets interesting. MailWasher uses several types of screens to classify email.

Screen#1: simple blacklist/whitelist filtering. Editing and customization of the blacklist and whitelist is a breeze. Addresses or whole domains may be added to either list, and you can also import a blacklist from elsewhere.

Screen#2: rules filtering, including regular expression support. The rules filters allow some additional mail classification. For example, you can mark messages that do not contain your name in the 'To:' or 'cc:' fields for deletion. Regular expressions take some getting used to, but allow for more sophisticated filtering, based on wildcards and logic. The good news is that there is a regularly updated set of filters available for download, which can be modified as you see fit.

Screen#3: pattern-matching heuristic filtering. This scans the mail for phrases normally associated with spam (free government grants to earn a XXX Viagra d.i.p.l.o.m.a), and rates each accordingly. Note that the pattern-matching heuristics are adjustible to allow greater or lesser permissivity in designating spam. Although accuracy is fairly good, it is certainly not always correct, so unseen auto-deletion is unwise.

Screen#4: consultation with several DNS blacklist servers. These servers contain regularly updated lists of suspected spammer havens. They are not perfectly accurate either, so unseen auto-deletion is again unwise.

Once classification and screening is complete, the washing can begin. The 'process mail' button starts bouncing and deleting the naughty mails according to your specifications, then launches the email application to download the cleansed mail.

The bounce option sends a fake server error message to the purported sender that your address does not exist. This is supposed to make the sender think your address is no longer active, resulting in removal of your name from their list of addresses to spam. In my opinion, this is likely ineffective. Here's why: most spammers forge the headers of their spams, and place bogus return addresses such as If you attempt to bounce to this non-existent address, then you will receive a "not deliverable" bounced email which will further clutter your inbox. All of this serves to increase the work load on various overworked email administrators, who get loads of "not deliverable" errors in their logs. Therefore, mail bounce should be used with caution, not enabled by default.

Not sure if it's spam due to vague subject lines? Peek at the message body text before downloading the whole thing. Want to report the header of a spam message to SpamCop or the FTC without actually downloading the whole dirty thing? Just view, copy, and paste the header into your mail application.

Despite it's beta status, I have thus far experienced no crashes, incompatibilites, or other problems with MailWasher 2.0.
The project is maintained by Nick and "Jean-Pierre" Bolton and eCOSM, and is updated frequently. Development work on additional features continues, so future MailWasher releases should contain the latest innovations.

Web Help:
MailWasher FAQ

saves time by marking/deleting junk email
easily edited and customizable filters
support for multiple email accounts and servers
fast download of email headers - works just like an email application
open to user suggestions - continuous testing, development, and improvement

bounce enabled by default

To conclude, MailWasher 2.0 is a useful tool that helps you safely screen and clean your emails. It enables the deletion of undesirable email and virii from the mail server prior to download to your computer's hard drive. It enables bounce mail to sender, but this feature should be used with restraint. If you are battling the deluge of fantastic business opportunities, penis and breast enlargement potions, prescription drugs, pyramid scams, porn, and hot stock tips, give MailWasher a try, then please vote if you have used MailWasher and submit your rating in the poll. I gave it 5/5.

« Last Edit: Feb 03, 2004, 02:42 PM by Neon »
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