Oregon State University

Blocking E-mail Spam

OSU uses several tools to help keep spam from reaching your mailbox. Read on for more information about what we are doing to prevent spam, what you can do, and how to keep your address off of spammers' lists.

What is Spam?

Spam is defined as unsolicited, bulk e-mail.  Typically spam comes from strangers - people who have obtained your e-mail address without your permission. If you signed up for the mailing (intentionally or accidentally), it may be undesirable e-mail, but it is not technically spam. Likewise, if you have some sort of business relationship with the sender, it is not spam. So, an e-mail sent to you from your bank, an online service you signed up for, or your department at OSU would not be considered spam. 

Note: Using OSU's e-mail system to send unauthorized bulk mailings is against the Acceptable Use Policy.  For information about how to do a bulk mailing at OSU correctly, please see the Guidelines for Release of E-mail Addresses.

Blocking Spam

Follow the steps below for your email client to turn on spam filtering based on OSU's spam headers.

Step 1 - Using Filtering On Your Account

Step 2 - Reporting Spam

If Step 1 doesn't stop the spam from coming through, you can report the spam by following these steps:

Phish Detection

For more information about phishing, please see the Phishing helpdoc page.

OSU blocks e-mail messages that contain a reply-to address that goes to a known phisher.  If practical, we will also "poison DNS" for links included in phishing e-mails, so that clicking the link will redirect you to a safe page instead. 

If you respond in any way to a phishing e-mail that asks for your username and password, we will disable your account and ask you to reset your password.  OSU has had a significant number of accounts become compromised in the past and these compromised accounts can be used to send hundreds of thousands of spam e-mails to OSU and to the world, causing serious e-mail disruption.

NEVER respond to phishing e-mails!

Where does spam come from?

In the past, most spam came from misconfigured mail servers or proxy servers. But today most spam comes from virus-infected personal computers, hacked e-mail accounts and free e-mail providers.  See the Wikipedia article on Spam for more information about how spammers operate.

One very important thing that you can do in the fight against spam is to keep your computer up-to-date on software patches and anti-virus software. It's also a good idea to run a personal firewall. Use caution when opening e-mails from addresses you don't recognize, and always scan email attachments for viruses. If your computer has become noticeably slower, it's a good idea to run virus-detection software.

Finally: NEVER share your password!

Spam Filtering

Follow the steps below for your email client to turn on spam filtering.

Google Mail (Gmail)

Google anti-spam filtering is turned on by default. If you use Gmail to access your OSU email, you do not need to turn on spam filtering.

Outlook Web App (exmail.oregonstate.edu)

Inbox Rules can be used to lower the amount of spam received to Exchange? email addresses.

  1. Log into exmail.oregonstate.edu
  2. On the upper-right, click on Options and choose See All Options...
  3. Click on Organize E-Mails
  4. Click on New Rule in Inbox Rules tab
  5. Click on More Options
  6. Set the following:
  7. In the 'Specify Words or Phrases' window enter 'X-Spam-Flag: YES' then click on the plus icon and click OK to add the phrase
  8. Select what to do with bad emails

    Select Junk E-mail from the Select folder window
  9. Name the rule and click on Save


Outlook 2016

  1. From the main Outlook window, click on the "Junk" button.
  2. From the drop-down menu, select "Junk Email Options..."
  3. On the "Options" tab, you can change the level of automatic filtering. Low is recommended.
  4. On the "Blocked Senders" tab, click "Add" to enter a sender email address to block. Caution: if you block a domain, all email addresses at that domain will be blocked.
  5. Set allowed senders on the "Safe Senders" tab.


ONID Webmail (Legacy Server)

These instructions do not apply if you receive your ONID email via Google Apps for OSU. Email filtering will not work with ONID if you have your ONID account set to forward to another email account.

Following are directions for setting up Spam Assassin and Mail Filters on ONID:

Spam Assassin
1. Go to http://onid.oregonstate.edu/
2. On the left, select "Login To ONID"
3. After logging in, select "Manage Mail"
4. If mail forward IS NOT set, you will see a Spam Assassin section on this page
5. Check the box that says "Use Spam Assassin"
6. You may check either or both of the other two boxes at your preference
7. Click Modify Spam Assassin Settings

Personal Mail Filters
1. Go to http://onid.oregonstate.edu/
2. On the left, select "Login To ONID"
3. After logging in, select "Manage Mail"
4. If mail forward IS NOT set, you will see a "Personal Mail Filters" section on this page
5. You can create a custom mail filter under this section to automatically move emails coming from a certain email address or email domain to a spam folder in your ONID account.
Caution: If you block a domain, all emails from that domain will be blocked. For example if you block @gmail.com, all emails coming from an @gmail.com email account will be blocked.

Need help?

Contact the Service Desk at 541-737-8787

We want your feedback!

Helpdocs are made just for you, so please tell us how we can make this information more clear and accessible. The more feedback that you can provide, the more we can improve our services to you!

Contact Info

Copyright ©  2017 Oregon State University