There are many ways to reduce the amount of junk e-mail that gets delivered to your VA.net address. Junk e-mails are any unsolicited messages that are sent to your e-mail address which are not wanted; these messages are commonly called "spam." Since not all spam filtering methods are effective or appropriate for everyone, we have built tools that allow our customers to customize many of their own filtering settings.

Public information on spam

The methods that VA.net uses to reduce spam are outlined below:

Mail Server Blocking: The preemptive strike.

Mail server blocking is the most extreme form of filtering that is employed by VA.net. Every e-mail message that is sent on the Internet has to be delivered by a mail server, commonly known as an SMTP server. For VA.net, your send mail server is smtp.va.net.

When messages are sent to VA.net addresses our network is being asked to communicate with other mail servers on the Internet. Based on the information gathered by a community of service providers, certain mail servers have been listed as spam abusers. This means that the primary purpose of the mail server appears to be sending spam.

Sometimes these misbehaving mail servers will even engage in network attacks on service providers, including Denial of Service and Dictionary attacks, which affect network performance or attempt to send messages to every possible combination of letters and numbers at a domain (ie. a@va.net, b@va.net, etc.). Based on how bad a mail server has been, VA.net will either Null Route it (meaning it cannot communicate with our network at all) or we will issue a temporary e-mail block that can be removed by the mail server administrator or customers using the mail server for legitimate purposes.

VA.net's mail server blocking policy is available online with detailed instructions on how to have a mail server unblocked.

Identification: Giving spam a score.

The most difficult part of filtering spam is building a system that correctly distinguishes the unwanted messages from the wanted ones. Our software works to determine the likelihood that a message is spam.

EVERY e-mail message sent to a VA.net address is assigned a likelihood of being spam. This likelihood value is displayed to the user as a "spam score," with 10 being the highest possible score.

The HIGHER the number, the MORE likely the message is spam.

The spam score is at the heart of our custom filtering options. Every message viewed in webmail will show the score, you can determine how accurate the identification process is for your own personal tastes. Within the spam filtering settings, you can set the spam score level at which you would like e-mail filtered at. Based on that election, potential spam is filtered directly into your Spam folder area of webmail.

Once you have made your choice our servers will filter any messages that comes to your account with a spam score AT OR ABOVE your specified filter level. For instance, if you set your filter level to 4 (VA.net recommended), every message with a spam score of 4 or higher will be filtered into your Spam folder. By default new account spam score filter levels are set to 10.

Removal: A place for spam.

The separate Spam folder area in VA.net's webmail allows users to have messages that have been identified as spam automatically filtered out of their main e-mail inbox. These likely spam messages are stored in your Spam folder area of webmail but will not be downloaded to your computer in Outlook or any other POP3 e-mail client when you check mail.

Follow these instructions to setup your own personal spam filtering level:

  1. Click on the "Webmail" tab and login.
  2. In the left-hand column , click on the "Filter" link.
  3. On the right-hand side of the screen, click "Spam Filter"
  4. Select the level (1 - 10) that you would like your mail to be filtered at (lower the number the more filtering that is done) in the Spam Level box.
  5. Click "Save Settings."

Mail that comes to your address with a spam score of or higher than the one you selected will now be filtered to your Spam folder. You can check messages in your Spam folder by logging into the Online Mailbox and clicking on the "Spam" link on the left side folder list under Inbox. You may also POP the Spam folder directly to your computer by connecting to port 1109 on mail.va.net or subscribe to the folder using an IMAP client connected to imap.va.net if you would like (for advanced users only).

If a message was incorrectly filtered (false positive) into your Spam folder, it can be moved to the main inbox by clicking on the "This is not Spam" link from within the message or by using the "Move messages to ..." drop down menu in the message list view. Spam messages that are left in the Spam folder for over 21 days will be automatically deleted by the server. Users may also delete the spam messages on their own from within the Spam folder or by clicking the "(delete)" link by the folder when there are messages in it.

Stamping: Leaving a mark.

There is also the option to prepend the subject line of messages based on their spam scores. If activated, the subject lines of filtered messages are prepended with {Spam?}. Using many mail programs e-mail may be filtered locally based on the subject line stamp.


Follow these instructions to setup your own personal spam tagging level:

  1. Click on "My Account"
  2. Click on "Spam Marking", and login.
  3. Make sure that "Prepend {spam?} to subject line of messages with a spam score of or higher than:" is checked.
  4. Select the level (1 - 10) that you would like your mail to be tagged at (lower the number the more tagging that is done).
  5. Click "Save Settings."

White Listing: Allowing the good.

Anytime that a wanted message is incorrectly identified by the system as spam, it is called a "false positive." PA.net has made tools available for reducing the number of false positives that occur. One of these tools is the whitelist, which allows customers to store a list of friendly e-mail addresses in webmail. Any messages received from e-mail addresses that are listed in whitelist will not be subject to spam filtering for your account.

To add an email address to your whitelist, you simply need to open the message from the person you would like to whitelist and click on the "Whitelist" link on the top of the screen. The address will be added to your whitelist and future messages from that person will bypass your spam filter and go straight on your inbox.

If you would like remove addresses that were entered in your whitelist or add people who have not yet sent you a message, use the following directions:

In Webmail

  • On the left-hand side, click on "Filtering".
  • Click on Whitelist on the right.
  • You can add or remove addresses from the list here. Click on "Save" once you're done.

Blacklisting: Blocking the bad.

You have the ability to permanetly block people from sending you email by using the blacklist. Any messages from addresses in your blacklist will go straight to your trash. You can add an address to your blacklist by either clicking the "Blacklist" link in an open message or by the following:

In Webmail

  • On the left-hand side, click on "Filtering".
  • Click on Blacklist on the right.
  • You can add or remove addresses from the list here. Click on "Save" once you're done.

Teamwork: Ganging up on evil.

Through the open source community, VA.net works with thousands of other service providers around the globe to stop spam. "Cumberland Technologies is an active participant in the Internet community's anti-spam efforts, and we applaud them for their donation of resources and support towards them." -- Jeff Chan, SURBL.org

If you know someone that is using an e-mail service that does not perform spam prevention measures, please recommend that they switch to a provider that does. The more people that use services that prevent people from sending spam the better. For information on referring someone to VA.net visit www.va.net/getmember.html.



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Pakistani protesters help carry their injured colleague to an ambulance during a clashes near prime minister's home in Islamabad, Pakistan on Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014. Thousands of anti-government protesters tried to raid the official residence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, sparking clashes with police that killed a few people and wounded hundreds amid cries for the premier to step down, officials said Sunday. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)ISLAMABAD (AP) ? Anti-government protesters and Pakistani police have clashed once again as the demonstrators pushed into a sprawling government complex in the country's capital in an effort to try to reach the prime minister's official residence.


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