Spam Filtering & Quarantine

OIT's spam filtering system works by scanning incoming email for spam before it gets delivered to your email Inbox. The filter automatically deletes messages that meet the necessary criteria, including sender reputation, email characteristics, and various other characteristics.

If the message is suspect, the spam filter will simply place the item in quarantine. Messages identified as "definite" spam will be dropped instead of quarantined. These messages meet or exceed a threshold of 90 on a spam detection scale of 1 to 100. Users can opt out of this policy and continue to quarantine "definite" spam by submitting a request to Legitimate messages are then delivered successfully to your inbox.

In addition to the filtering on the server, individual accounts may configure spam filtering from within or other email clients. These filters supplement the server-side filter to provide greater protection from spam.

How effective are the Filters

The current spam filters actually blocks about 97% of the total emails sent from the internet to the SMU mail servers. Although an occasional spam message may reach your inbox, the filter is very effective in minimizing this occurrence.

OIT 2016 Progress Report, 2017.

Reporting Spam


Occasionally, unsolicited spam email messages may get through our filters, which use sender reputation scores as one of the filtering criteria to block spam. If you would like to report spam which has reached your SMU inbox, please forward a copy of the message as an attachment to . 

Only messages which are sent as an attachment can be analyzed, as this method keeps the email header intact. This allows OIT to send pertinent data on to our anti-spam vendor, who will use it to influence the sender’s reputation score.

Please Note:  The mailbox is not actively monitored. To report a frequent spammer, a phishing email, or other spam-related issues which require the attention of the SMU OIT Staff, please send the message as an attachment to

How to Forward an Email as Attachment

To forward a message as an attachment, please use one of the following methods: 

In Microsoft Outlook

  1. Select the message that you want to forward as an attachment.
  2. Click the Attachment button or press CTRL+ALT+F.
  3. Send to

In Webmail

  1. Open a new message, or reply to or forward an existing one.
  2. Open the message in a new window by selecting Open in new window .
  3. Arrange the windows so you can see both the message list and your new message.
  4. Select and drag the message you want to attach from the message list to your new message.
  5. Send to

In Apple Mail

  1. Select the message that you want to forward as an attachment.
  2. Select Message, then Forward as Attachment.
  3. Send to


Faculty, Staff and Students may review the items diverted to their SMU quarantine folder at any time via or the Sign In button above. Items can be released from the quarantine individually. Also, specific addresses or senders can be added to a whitelist within the Quarantine. Subsequent messages sent from those specific addresses or senders, will then bypass the filter rules and be delivered successfully. Messages are stored in quarantine for 60 days. A weekly digest email will be sent to users when spam messages are quarantined. This will include a summary of messages inbound to the user which have been quarantined as spam.

Optional Quarantine Services

  • Users will have an option to quarantine Marketing Messages. These emails typically advertise goods and services, and may have been directly or indirectly requested by the recipient. Users must send authorization to to opt-in to this service. 
  • Users can also opt-in to spam prevention policies which are more or less aggressive than default. These policies will change the thresholds of messages sent to the inbox vs. those retained by quarantine. Opt-in for these policies will also be handled by requests to


SMU does not employ email safelisting per policy. Exempting inbound emails from spam and virus scanning is very seldom required to ensure delivery from vendors with good hygiene, and it exposes the campus to unnecessary risk. As an alternative, SMU OIT will gladly work with off-campus vendors on other methods to ensure bulk message delivery, including relaxed inbound message throttling rules, DKIM and SPF. We can also work directly with vendors to monitor inbound messages (test or production) to determine whether there is a legitimate concern about delivery and to ensure CAN-SPAM conformance.

The following resources are available for external vendors who desire to ensure delivery of mass email to SMU:

Documentation and Training