A consortium of 18 medical Royal Colleges, plus the Nursing Midwives Council and the General Medical Council, has begun implementing a service to tackle the huge problems of spam, porn and viruses.
Three Royal Colleges - Pathologists, Psychologists, and Paediatric & Child Health - have begun using the CleanMail service from internet service provider Star Internet.
The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has now begun rolling out the service, which includes MessageLabs' real-time virus scanning and other colleges will follow shortly.
Under the contract, Star Internet guarantees 95 per cent spam removal and total virus protection through its software-based service.
Suspect spam and spam content is forwarded into a quarantine area so that it can be checked in case it is genuine.
RCGP IT manager Tony Betts told vnunet.com: "Spam is handled within the IT area, while porn is monitored by human resources since the deliberate downloading of porn violates [the college's] acceptable use policy."
To achieve the high spam removal figure, CleanMail includes some pattern matching heuristics technology as well as user-tailored filtering criteria. This stops most unsolicited email even reaching the internal network, according to Star Internet.
Filtering typically includes public and internal blacklists and suspect email known as 'white lists'.
A global network of 'control towers' checks millions of emails daily to trap viruses and and unknown suspicious emails for inspection, in addition to recognised spam.
Paul Gloster, IT manager at the Royal College of Pathologists, which has 7,500 members, explained that it only has 30 users at its administration centre, but that he was pleased with the service.
"Even with 95 per cent filtering that typically leaves 40 spam messages a day that I personally have to go through. Without the software, all users would have had to look at the spam," he said.
The anti-porn module uses image-recognition technology and artificial intelligence to identify such things as suspect poses, clothing and overall image content.
Cost per user per month for the combined service is £2.25, but Betts said that increased numbers of users would reduce the figure to £1.85.
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