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Implementing Edge Services for an Exchange 2010 Environment : Fine-Tuning Content Filtering

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Content filtering can be used for more than just identifying the content of messages in reviewing whether content is considered spam or whether the content is appropriate for the users of an organization. The content filtering function can be used to delete, reject, or quarantine messages based on an SCL rating where the fine-tuning of the SCL helps keep unwanted messages out of the organization’s email system, yet minimizes the potential of false positives where messages are deleted or quarantined even when they are being sent by legitimate senders. This section covers the fine-tuning of content filtering on an Edge Transport server.

Configuring Content Filtering Actions

Several options are available in the Content Filter properties that can be configured. The following goes through the configuration options and notes what the various settings do. To configure content filtering, do the following:

1.
In the Content Filter Properties window, select the Action tab.

2.
Check the Delete Messages That Have an SCL Rating Larger or Equal To option, and set the threshold appropriately. All messages with the respective SCL are deleted.

3.
Check the Reject Messages That Have an SCL Rating Larger or Equal To option, and set the threshold appropriately. All messages with the respective SCL are rejected.

4.
Check the Quarantine Messages That Have an SCL Rating Larger or Equal To option, and set the threshold appropriately. All messages with the respective SCL are quarantined.

Note

A quarantine mailbox must first be defined. A prompt appears if it is not and the action cannot be enabled.

5.
To disable an action, uncheck the box next to it.

6.
To change the corresponding SCL threshold of an action, either enter a new number in the box or use the up/down arrows to change the value.

7.
Click Apply to save your changes or OK to save changes and close the Content Filter.

Using the Exchange Management Shell to Configure Content Filtering

Content filtering can also be configured through the Exchange Management Shell. Each shell command has its own parameters you can set based on the action(s) performed by the command. There are four commands: Get, Add, Remove, and Set. Each command works with one or more content-filtering components.

The Get- command is used to retrieve the configuration of a component. For example, entering Get-ContentFilterConfig displays the Content Filter configuration on the local system.

The Add-ContentFilterPhrase command can be used to add an acceptable or unacceptable word or phrase to the filter. The following example adds an unacceptable phrase:

Add-ContentFilterPhrase -Phrase "this is unacceptable" -Influence BadWord

The Remove-ContentFilterPhrase command can be used to remove a blocked or allowed keyword or phrase. The following example removes an unacceptable phrase:

Remove-ContentFilterPhrase -Identity "this is unacceptable"

Note

When replacing the <String> option with a phrase, the phrase must be enclosed with quotation marks and the phrase must be “influenced” so it gets added to the correct list.


The Set command allows an administrator to enable or disable the agent and modify the configuration of the content filter components. The following example enables the Content Filtering Agent on email received on External SMTP connections, bypasses scanning of one domain, enables Outlook 2007 postmark validation, sets the spam quarantine mailbox, and assigns the thresholds for the different actions.

Set-ContentFilterConfig -BypassedSenderDomains Microsoft.com -Enabled $true -ExternalMailEnabled $true -OutlookEmailPostmarkValidationEnabled $true 
-QuarantineMailbox anti-spam@companyabc.com -SCLDeleteEnabled $true -SCLDeleteThreshold 7 -SCLQuarantineEnabled $true -SCLQuarantineThreshold 4] -SCLRejectEnabled $false



Configuring Puzzle Validation for Content Filtering

Puzzle validation in Exchange Server 2010 works in conjunction with the Outlook 2007 Email Postmark validation feature to lower the SCL of a message that was sent using the Outlook 2007 client. This helps reduce false positives in email messages exchanged between organizations running exclusively in Exchange Server 2010 and Outlook 2007 messaging environments. Postmark validation is disabled by default.

Note

Puzzle validation can only be configured using the Set-ContentFilterConfig Exchange Management Shell command.


When Email Postmark validation is configured for Outlook 2007 clients, and those clients send an email message, a presolved computational puzzle is inserted into the message that an Exchange 2010 server running the Content Filtering Agent with Puzzle Validation enabled will be able to “solve.” If the message was marked as spam, but contains an Outlook 2007 Postmark Validation stamp and the Content Filtering Agent was able to successfully resolve the inserted “puzzle,” then the SCL of the message will be lowered because the sender’s software has technically been validated, making the message unlikely to be spam. If the message contains an invalid Email Postmark validation header or no Email Postmark validation at all, the SCL will remain unchanged.

To enable or disable Puzzle Validation and Outlook 2007 Email Postmark validation, run the following command in the Exchange Management Shell:

Set-ContentFilterConfig -OutlookEmailPostmarkValidationEnabled <$true | $false>


where $true enables puzzle validation and $false disables puzzle validation.

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