Effective greylisting using postgrey

I installed postgrey on several of the mail servers that I manage and have been impressed with the results. Greylisting works by temporarily blocking senders the first time that they attempt to send a message. Spammers will (hopefully) give up and move on to more susceptible targets, while legitimate mail servers will retry delivery a few minutes later.

Prior to installing this, our mail filters were identifying about 70-75% of the messages passing through it as spam (this is after rejecting invalid recipients, and using a couple IP-based blacklists). After installing postgrey, that number is down to around 50%. So, for us, a simple 10 minute installation of postgrey has reduced the amount of mail that we have to scan by about 35%.

I actually installed it on a few different machines, all around the same time and wrote up some instructions

Of course, I’ve spent a little more time tweaking the installation just a little. I changed the timeout to 4 minutes, instead of 5, so that if a legitimate mail server is set to retry every 5 minutes, it shouldn’t have a problem. I also customized the URL that it sends in the 450 response to one that points to our own website. Overall I’m very impressed and will recommend installing it on any mail system I’m involved with.

Update 2007-08-08

Here is a graph showing the drop in mail processed due to the greylisting. The drop has been significant and has helped our mail filtering service very much. Fewer spam messages bypass the filters, and the load on the servers has decreased so that we can handle more capacity as we need to.

Greylisting Results

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