Panda Anti-Spam Sucks

Panda Software’s anti-spam tool (part of their whole security suite) sucks. Just for kicks, I’m going to tell you why. After a day of experience with it I disabled it. (I only use it with Thunderbird, so if it’s better with Outlook/Express, so be it. It sucks with Thunderbird.)

For starters it modifies your email as it passes through the filter adding a block of text like this:

—————————————————————————————————
Text inserted by Platinum 2006:

This message has NOT been classified as spam. If it is unsolicited mail
(spam), click on the following link to reclassify it:
http://127.0.0.1:6083/Panda?ID=pav_8806&SPAM=true
—————————————————————————————————

And, also a variant for when it does think an email is spam. This is a big no-no in the world of email. Modifying the content of a users email is just bad. This text that gets appended to an inboud message usually gets left there by a user when they reply and then ends up having their email eaten alive by other anti-spam and anti-scam filters. The same can be said for many other spam and anti-virus programs that add lines of text to emails. All this really does is add more spam to peoples inboxes. In most cases users have paid for this program, they did not pay for unsolicited advertising that is being sent out with every one of their emails.

Every message I ever receive from a user of Panda’s spam filter gets flagged as a potential ‘scam’ and also receives a higher potential spam rating from server side spam filters. The potential ‘scam’ portion is the part that makes me laugh most. It’s simply because this link that is provided contains two things 1) a numerical address, and 2) a non standard port.

This link is a horrible method of allowing a user to control spam. We constantly drive it into users that they should not click on “strange” links in their emails. This is a huge problem, and you constantly will hear about people being scammed and taken for a joyride with bank scams and other fantasticly derived tactics to get your money. I mean, shit, I could spam out half a million emails and have it include a nice little header:

This message Scanned by Snorton System Security 2007 Super Fantastic Platinum Ultra: It’s clean! Click Stuff.
http://www.paypal.com/

If that’s all it takes to get a user to think it’s safe… phishers of the world could make a killing! That’d be fantastic!

Another reason why this program sucks is that, because it gives the users these addresses in the messages, it must maintain a list of whatever it uses to determine spam. And this, in the case of a high volume user, will result in an assload of data being stored – personal and likely detailed information about your email. This is because, well, Panda has no direct access to your email once it is delivered to your inbox. It needs to maintain this list so that when you do click on one of these links it can process what would be similar to the original email. So, somewhere on your computer, there’s a list of some detailed email usage that you don’t know about.

I think my final reason for Panda’s anti-spam sucking is the mere fact that it does not have any access to your address book directly. So, for all your friends that you interact with, or business contacts or real mailing lists, it has no clue who they are. It treats all mail with a major unknown and that unknown is bad. What’s the likelyhood of a user sending you real spam and also being in your address book? Not very likely, that’s for sure.

I’ve witnessed this before: Mail that I send to a user of Panda will get go through fine, their reply will get flagged as a ‘scam’ for me, and I’ll reply once more and guess what? My 2nd message gets flagged as good ol’ spam, even though it’s the middle of a conversation. That just shows to me that it doesn’t have any adaptive learning skills – and if it does, they’re not very good. It also shows me that it’s integration is very poor.

Ah well, I disabled it across the board. Thunderbird’s built in anti spam is fine enough, really. It’s got a much better way of handling a users ability to flag/unflag junk, it uses the address book, it uses smarter techniques. It learns gooder protection for me. Maybe I’m just spoiled.

The rest of the Panda suite seemed ok as far as Anti Virus stuff goes. Except for the fact that it refuses to install on a machine that has 256MB. Ugh.

About SmartSsa

a mindless soul flushed down the toilet
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