MagicSpam for Plesk review

Updated 19/05/2011

There aren’t a lot of MagicSpam reviews out there, so I thought i’d write something up to let everyone know how we went with it.

Overview

MagicSpam for Plesk is a spam filtering module for Plesk. It performs best practice and DNSBL checks against all mails coming into the system.

The module compliments but does not replace Spamassassin. MagicSpam filters mail pre-smtp but does not do content filtering so it won’t get rid of those Viagra mails, not directly anyway.

Installation

Installation was fairly easy. Upon purchasing a license, you receive a link to the installation package (we use Debian so it was a .deb). You download and install the package and it installs itself as a module in Plesk. The license is tied to your Plesk license, so despite what the instructions that get mailed to you say (they’re completely wrong), refresh your Plesk license (Retrieve Keys) to obtain the updated key that licenses MagicSpam. Don’t try to update the license from the MagicSpam module itself as it wont work.

Usage

MagicSpam pretty much “just works”. It doesn’t require an inordinate amount of tweaking but you’ll need to tell it what policies to enforce when receiving mails from other mail servers, such as checking for a valid HELO which a lot of spammers don’t provide correctly, and implementing DNSBL’s for blocking known spam servers and end user networks.

There are nice graphs which gives you a visual overview of how much mail is entering your system, and how much of that is spam.

Recommended settings

Based on my experience in the field, i’d recommend using MagicSpam together with Spamassassin. This should catch almost all spam. Almost 🙂

Here are the settings I use.

Best practice rules

Rule Status
Block messages from IP Enabled
Block Mail Servers on Dynamic/Dial-up Addresses Disabled
Perform reverse lookup check Enabled
Block Mail Servers reported as Spam Source Enabled
Confirm Server Identification Resolves (HELO) Disabled
Strict address parsing Enabled
Sending server must identify itself (HELO) Enabled
Valid FROM domain Disabled
Server Identification must be valid (HELO) Enabled

IP Reputation

Rule Status
UCEPROTECT-1 Enabled
UCEPROTECT-2 Enabled
PSBL Enabled
SORBS-DUL Disabled
MIPSPACE Disabled
RATS-DYNA Enabled
RATS-NOPTR Enabled
RATS-SPAM Enabled

Conclusion

MagicSpam is no IronPort, but it’s an easy to install, affordable, plug and play alternative. It works well especially when used together with Spamassassin. MagicSpam acts to catch spam before it enters the system, and Spamassassin will weed out anything else.

I’m pretty sure that Postfix can be configured to do what MagicSpam does, but most people simply don’t know how as it requires intimate knowledge of how Postfix works and how to configure it. This is where MagicSpam shines as a turnkey anti-spam solution. It just works.

7 thoughts on “MagicSpam for Plesk review”

  1. Nice review, honest reflection of what we do and what we offer. Stay tuned for more features and more releases, we just want to make it simple for people. A couple of extra notes, the logging, statistics are key features people really enjoy, and protecting at the SMTP layer helps reduce overhead, bandwidth, and especially backscatter (which of course can get you blacklisted even if you don’t generate spam)

  2. Great Review!
    Is there a reason why you have SORBS disabled, My settings are identical to your with the exception of SORBS.

    What would you suggests for SpamAssassin settings?

    1. I find SORBS to be a little overzealous in what it does. I gave it a try when we first started using MagicSpam but it was creating too many complaints. Sure it was effective in blocking spam, but it was also blocking legitimate mail. My clients would rather have a little extra spam come through than lose important mail.

      As for SpamAssassin, it’s out of scope for this article but we leave the default trigger at 7 for all clients and tweak the individual scores to suit.
      Here’s what we use currently:

      required_score 7.00
      score URIBL_WS_SURBL 5.0
      score URIBL_JP_SURBL 5.0
      score URIBL_BLACK 6.0
      score RCVD_IN_XBL 6.0
      score BAYES_99 6.0
      score RCVD_IN_BL_SPAMCOP_NET 3.0

    1. Hi Alejandro,

      I find that there are quite a few web based mailers that are easy to misconfigure and as a result don’t set a proper FROM address, like PHP form mailers and what not. It’s one thing to take a hard stance and say that they should get a clue and configure them correctly, but the fact of the matter people don’t, and I don’t want to block legitimate mail from them.
      Originally I had set it to enabled but this blocked way too much legitimate mail for my liking.

  3. Hi there
    when MagicSPAM is working it seams to do a good job. When it works.

    On our Debian Linux Server it was deactivated automatically after 6 days without notification.
    I found out later. So I payed for it one month, but it worked only a half month. I stared it again. 4 days later it was off again. Of course I found out later, so it was again not working several days.

    Maybe Plesk Updates or Linux Update might be the reason, why it is suddenly not working. That is, what the support was telling me.

    Of course I do not want to check my server by hand every day if MagicSpam is running or maybe not.
    Then I got some mails that the license key can not update. So I fear that MagicSPAM is turing off again automatically.

    The support team could not help. All they ask is to get root access to our server 😉

    MagicSPAM maybe good software – bad and buggy license management.

  4. I am trying to get along with MagicSpam, too. But it’s really hard. The development team doesn’t seem to concentrate on the important things (block ip range, e.g.), and one wonders if there will be new features out someday. The german translation is awful and close to uselessness. Really doubt if it is worth the bucks you have to pay each month when it’s not improving…

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