Small Mail Server Survival Guide

Email on tablet and phone

 pictafolio / Getty Images

Social networking is continuing to gain greater popularity these days, but still, emails are the most definitive option for messaging, easily surpassing all other electronic communication forms even in this modern world filled with tons of apps. Administrating mails may seem to be an expensive function, particularly for small and mid-sized businesses and several administrators are looking for cost-effective solutions for the same. 

Many businesses find it a difficult task to run their own mail servers because of the incessant efforts of spammers to dispatch outbound spam and pounding massive inbound spam via their mail servers. Since most of the companies facing such issues happen to be small to mid-sized ones, they are often short of in-house technical solutions for properly configuring and running a mail server and managing such threats. This is why several businesses outsource their needs to external service providers at a significant cost. 

However, it's not just about the cost alone; outsourcing these requirements may not seem to be an expensive affair, but it comes with hidden risks, as well.

4 Risks of Outsourcing Mail Servers

  1. The business loses control of its own mail security. The outsourcing company manages server-based authentication and encryption, which may require additional encryption for sensitive communication, but it's not in the hands of the business owner anymore.
  2. The terms and conditions of the outsourcing company, at times, may permit it to scan the mail contents to help in aiming advertising, thus posing even higher confidentiality and privacy intrusion risks. 
  3. Sharing the mail server with other businesses can cause delivery problems when a person at the other company sends spam messages via that mail server. This may increase the risk if the outsourcing company is not able to detect the spam and block it. 
  4. The biggest hurdle is that another company can view all the message contents. Sometimes, the message content may be stored on the servers of the outsourcing company indefinitely. These downsides are significant.

For small firms that require confidential and reliable email systems, it can be a tough decision to decide whether or not to outsource. It’s possible for small businesses to run a spam-filtered and secure mail server by following these guidelines. 

Select a Good ISP or Hosting Provider

When choosing an ISP, make sure that it has the ability to handle abuse and spam issues. If you are managing your own email server, it’s highly crucial that your ISP doesn’t permit abuse and spam to thrive on its network. To ensure that the hosting or ISP provider is properly managing these issues on its network, there are many resources to verify the reputation of its domains and IPs. 

Reject Inbound Spam as Much as Possible

There are many domain databases and IP addresses that can lower the inbound spam amount reaching mailboxes without blocking legitimate emails. These databases can be used freely if the volume of emails is not very high. However, it’s vital to use these properly. 

Put a Stop to Outbound Spam

Spam emission is mainly because of either a unit or person in the company that wants to send spam or a security issue that lets others send spam using your IP address. 

There’s no technical solution for the first case, though all marketing employees should know that all the emails addresses sent to when mailing in bulk should have requested receiving emails about products by a confirmed opt-in process. 

The second case is more common. Most of the spam is due to security issues belonging to one of these categories: malware Trojans and viruses, open relay, compromised accounts and compromised web servers. These problems should be addressed properly to prevent spam issues.

Log Monitoring

Spend some time or establish auto mechanisms based on email counts to monitor your mail server. Detecting an issue and implementing corrective measures as soon as possible before the reputation of the domain or IP address starts deteriorating may actually decrease the incident’s impact on regular mail flow. 

An in-house mail server is certainly a more viable option for small companies. If confidentiality or privacy problems are to be seriously looked into, then one must opt for their own mail server. If the above-mentioned points are taken into consideration, it should not be overwhelming to run your own mail server, but then it's always easier said than done.

An optimal solution could be finding a reliable email hosting provider, which assures 100% confidentiality, reliability, and at the same time, saves you from the pain of managing your own mail server.