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Canning Spam

Bank of Rhode Island taps Postini e-mail security service to reduce spam.

Something as simple as spam can slow a bank's operations. For Providence-based Bank of Rhode Island (approximately $1.2 billion in assets), the volume of spam clogging employees' e-mail in-boxes became a drag on productivity.

"We were getting bombarded with spam," says Ken Sensus, senior vice president, information technology and operations, Bank of Rhode Island. "It was a business-line issue. Employees were complaining because in-boxes were getting inundated with spam every day. We needed to come up with a spam filtering program."

When Bank of Rhode Island first saw an increase of spam in employees' in-boxes, the bank implemented in-house procedures that required users to change e-mail settings manually, according to Sensus. But the solution was ineffective, he relates. In addition, the problem also became a matter of security. "Securitywise, we were getting viruses," Sensus says.

The bank sought a vendor solution during the second quarter of 2003. After researching vendors for about six months, Bank of Rhode Island signed a contract with Postini (Redwood City, Calif.) in December and deployed the vendor's Perimeter Manager solution in January 2004.

Postini's hosted e-mail security service sits between the Internet and the bank's e-mail gateway. The solution prevents e-mail threats by stopping spam, phishing attempts and viruses from reaching the bank's network.

The two primary reasons Bank of Rhode Island selected Postini's solution over other vendor offerings were the system's functionality and its ease of use, according to Sensus. Its security features were key. "We have scanning, but the Postini solution eliminates spam by segregating it into its own filtered area," says Sensus. "We liked the quarantine functionality, which allowed users to retrieve legitimate messages if necessary," he adds.

Testing 1-2-3

Before rolling out the Perimeter Manager solution to all of its employees, the bank decided to test it with a handful of employees who were receiving the most spam - staff in the marketing, retail, commercial and credit departments of the bank - relates Sensus. "The employees that got hit the most were those who conduct Internet research," he says.

"We rolled out the solution to the users who were getting abused the most from spam," he says. "Ten users tried it, and it was widely accepted by those users, so we used it in the rest of the organization."

Currently, the Postini Perimeter Manager filters 20,000 to 25,000 spam and virus e-mails en route to Bank of Rhode Island each month. Remarkably, notes Sensus, the solution has a very low fault rate. "We were looking for a solution with ease of use that would catch a lot of spam and not catch e-mails that are needed by employees," he says. "What it catches is truly spam.

According to Bank of Rhode Island, nearly 50 percent of incoming e-mail messages are spam. Sensus notes that the time the solution saves the bank's employees improves productivity dramatically. "We couldn't burden our employees with filtering through all these spam messages manually," he says.

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Snapshot

INSTITUTION: Bank of Rhode Island (Providence).

ASSETS: Approximately $1.2 billion.

BUSINESS CHALLENGE: Reduce the amount of spam clogging employees' e-mail in-boxes without losing vital messages.

SOLUTION: Postini's (Redwood City, Calif.) Perimeter Manager e-mail security service.

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