According to the IBM Threat Intelligence Index Spam email volume continues to rise every year as does the threat from sophisticated phishing emails or seemingly innocuous messages with malicious attachments. You may never have heard of MX Guarddog but they have been providing “best in class” email security solutions since 2006. In my opinion the most compelling reason to use their service is that they offer free email security filtering in exchange for a referral otherwise their rate is a paltry $0.25 per mailbox.
Configuring MX Guarddog Email Security
Another compelling reason to use MX Guarddog is that their filtering service is so simple to implement. After setting up your free account and configuring your settings all you need to do is change your domain name’s MX records to point to their mail servers. Once your mail goes through their filtering service it will be delivered as usual to your mail server and with minimal delay. When you login to your account you’ll arrive at the Domain Center as shown below. From this dashboard you will maintain all of your account settings. If you have configured multiple domains within your account just click on change focus to access those other domains. The navigation and menus will be identical regardless of how many domains you have configured.
Configuring your mailboxes
Clicking on the Emailing Addresses section of the Domain Center will enable you will to configure your individual mailboxes per domain. In addition to adding mailboxes you can configure a mailbox alias your a catch-all however following email best practices you should never configure a catch-all account. Of course there are certain cases when a catch-all could be used but in general it will usually just significantly increase the the amount of spam you receive.
Configuring your destination mail server
From the Domain Center dashboard click on Your Email Servers to configure your mail server MX records. This is the mail server that is currently hosting your mailboxes. If you’re not sure of the mail server MX records then check with your service provider or use a free tool such as mxtoolbox.com to look up your MX records. For my personal mail I use Zoho.com which is a free mail service provider that provides 5 GB of space and allows you to use a domain name at no additional cost.
As you can see in the picture above there is a tool available to send a test sending a message to your mailbox using the MX records you entered. This tool will help ensure everything is configured correctly. If the test is unsuccessful a notification will be displayed.
Configuring MX Guarddog mail servers
From the Domain Center dashboard click on MX Guarddog servers to see the new MX records that you need to configure with your domain registrar. Using your domain registrar’s DNS control panel you will replace your existing MX records with the new MX records provided by MX Guarddog. Once you complete this change, your MX Guarddog configuration will be complete. As you can see in the picture below, your domain’s new MX records will be clearly displayed.
Spam Filtering Aggression
If you click on Aggression, from the Domain Center dashboard, you will see the options below to modify how aggressively MX Guarddog filters your mail. There is no right for wrong threshold here. Only time will tell how one should set these values. Setting a lower value to start and increasing accordingly would be the safest bet. Ultimately you want the most filtering with the least amount of false-positives. There are additional settings on this page that you can tweak such as country blacklisting and blocking sender=recipient messages which is a common type of spam where the messages appear to have been sent by the recipient which usually isn’t true.
MX Guarddog’s blacklisting functionality is robust. As one can see in the picture below, there are several levels of blacklisting available. Country blacklisting is a great feature to leverage when you know with 100% certainty that you will never need to receive mail from certain countries. Simply check the box on the menu to block mail from that country and then uncheck the box in the future if your needs happen to change.
MX Guarddog Quarantine
After setting up your account and configuring your settings the next logical question is what happens to the mail that gets filtered. Naturally filtered mail gets quarantined. From the Domain Center dashboard you can configure how you want to be notified of quarantined mail. You have the option of receiving a daily quarantine message from MX Guarddog or not receiving any notification at all. From within the Quarantine message that you receive in your inbox, you will have the option to release any quarantined messages into your inbox, whitelisting the sender to prevent future quarantine, or ignoring the messages. Quarantined messages are purged on a periodic basis. Fortunately depending on your aggression settings and blacklisting settings your quarantine notifications may only contain a few messages each day. MX Guarddog does a great job of eliminating blatant spam without even quarantining it. However, this too is an option that can be configured unless of course you want to see everything that is filtered in which case you can review these messages one by one.
Email spam and phishing scams are increasing year after year. Having enterprise email security filtering available for just pennies per mailbox or even free is a compelling reason to consider MX Guarddog’s service. I have worked with many mail filtering solutions including Symantec Cloud, Vircom, Positini, SmarterMail, and even Barracuda but nothing compares to the features offered by MX Guarddog at their price point. Thanks for reading.