Preventing spam with Spam Assassin

cPanel Tutorial: Setting up Spam Assassin

Spam has become as common as the internet itself. This annoying epidemic has resulted in the development of various tools to combat the issue from both the client and server side. In this tutorial we will discuss the powerful Spam Assassin spam filter and how it can be set up in cPanel.


Spam Assassin is one of the most efficient spam-fighting tools on the market, available with almost any hosting plan offering cPanel. By default, this utility is disabled in your control panel but enabling it is fairly simple.

Enabling and Configuration

After logging into your control panel, you will notice "Spam Assassin" on the interface underneath the "Mail" tab. When clicking the tab you will be taken to the main configuration page and presented with an array of options. To start protecting your inbox right way, simply click "Enable Spam Assassin". This will activate the utility and filter spam on the default settings.

Spam Assassin's default filter is set to level 5, a decent setting for the average end-user. By setting the number higher, fewer messages will be tagged as spam, thus resulting in less false positives. This number can always be adjusted in accordance to your level of false positives. You can also make configurations to delete spam mail as soon it arrives. This is useful in regard to easy management but you also stand the chance of losing legitimate emails. Because of this, learning to properly adjust the level of your filter is critical.

Your Spam Box

After first enabling Spam Assassin, all suspected spam emails in your Spam Box will be tagged with "SPAM" in front of the subject field. Of course, an exception would be if you have enabled the auto-spam delete function. This setting gives you the ability to configure your mail client to filter out messages based on certain tags. The Spam Box acts as your quarantine folder, performing on the server and preventing the messages from reaching the inbox on your desktop. The Spam Box automatically creates an isolation folder as soon as a spam message is detected.

The major benefits of activating the Spam Box is avoiding all the unsolicited emails in the form of advertisements, viruses, scams and other potential threats. It also allows you to access your webmail account on the server to find out if any legitimate messages were mistakenly tagged. The disadvantage of this filtering method relates to inconvenience as you will have to login to your cPanel account on a regular basis to manage the Spam Box. If not, the messages stored on the server will consume precious storage space.

Advanced Settings

Spam Assassin includes extra features that allow you to filter messages based on various criteria. Configurations can be made to block out or allow mail based on a specific email address or an entire domain. For instance, if you are constantly missing emails from a friend or company, you could add that name to a "Whitelist", instructing Spam Assassin to allow the message to pass. This method works the same way with a Blacklist which allows you to automatically block messages from a website that has been harassing you with spam.

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