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Seven Seventeen CU

Spam, viruses, worms, and Trojan horses have combined to create a full frontal assault on credit union’s e-mail systems. The spammers and virus writers get more and more determined and creative in their efforts, while overworked and harried network administrators struggle to stem the tidal wave of unwanted e-mails and their malicious payloads. To the rescue comes Fortress Systems and their MailScanner solution, which is the most popular email gateway scanning software in the world.

MailScanner processes more than 750 million e-mail messages every day at over 30,000 sites worldwide. Two of MailScanner’s and Fortress’s satisfied clients include two technologically savvy credit unions: Seven Seventeen Credit Union and San Antonio City Employees Federal Credit Union (SACEFCU). Prior to installing MailScanner, both Ron Malson, network manager at Seven Seventeen, and Oscar McAnally, system administrator at SACEFCU, were deluged with unsolicited e-mails. “We used to receive tons of spam and it would take someone a couple of hours per day to manage our e-mail system,” notes Ron. As for Oscar, his CEO Tim Haegelin came to him with his concerns over the growing volume of spam.

Both admins went to work searching the Internet and researching with peers to try and find an effective – and affordable – solution. After much due diligence, they both settled on Washington, DC-based Fortress Systems as their vendor of choice. Oscar gleams that “MailScanner was exactly what I was looking for – it is the perfect solution.” Ron concurs, “at first, it seemed almost too good to be true, but it has blocked about 98% of our spam and we are extremely satisfied.” Ron and his five IT colleagues can now focus on new projects and serving their fellow employees since “we spend virtually no time on e-mail management now.” Oscar says that “our Windows desktop support person was able to turn off the spam filters on our workstations so it relieves him of a lot of work.”

Even more important than blocking unwanted e-mail is blocking malware from reaching the users’ desktops. Both credit unions accomplish this by integrating anti-virus packages at the MailScanner gateway server. In fact, MailScanner is capable of scanning e-mail for viruses using any combination of up to 22 different virus scanners. It comes packaged with its own anti-virus application, but following the wise policy of a “layered” defense approach, both credit unions have added two other packages on top. Just like the spam detection capabilities, maintenance is completely automated: MailScanner automatically updates all installed virus scanners every hour, by default.

With such extraordinary spam and virus blocking capabilities, many people would expect that there would be “sticker shock” when it comes time to purchase MailScanner. There is sticker shock – only it is the other way around, because of the low price tag. Oscar points out that from his research, “the closest system was at least $1000 to $1500 higher.” With years of experience, the Fortress System team is so confident of the value of their system that they let Seven Seventeen “try before they buy.” When one user went from 300 unsolicited e-mails per day down to just a handful, Ron was convinced and quickly approved the purchase. Oscar adds that “we have cut down on hundreds of junk e-mails per day and everyone here is very happy with the results.”

While MailScanner is an open source Linux solution, very few credit unions would want to tackle installing and configuring it on their own – e-mail is just too critical of a communications medium to risk disrupting. Oscar explains: “we were looking for an expert to help us install and configure MailScanner and we found it in Fortress.” Like Oscar, Ron has years of Unix and Linux experience, but truly appreciates Fortress’s expertise: “they are the experts, really top technical talent.” He goes on to add that “we receive immediate support from them and they work hard to make sure that their customers are happy.” Oscar confirms Ron’s comments: “their support is top notch and it is really nice to have the ear of their Chief Technology Officer Julian Field.”

With robust spam and virus blocking capabilities, world class technical support, and an extremely affordable sub-$1000 price point, it should not take long before more credit unions come onboard with Fortress Systems and MailScanner. “Nobody can touch it,” proclaims Oscar, “it works like a charm.” Ron adds that “it was one of the most cost effective moves that I have ever made in my IT career.”