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IDS in email server?

ids in smartermailI have dealt with web hosting for many years now. SmarterMail is the only email server software comes with IDS. In case you didn’t know what is IDS? IDS is normally found in firewall known as intrusion detecting system. IDS has a set of rules if any connection has violated the rules, mitigation will kick in. The serve to minimize the risk of a server’s attack or hack.

SmarterMail as this to stop abnormal activities, like attempting to log in with failed passwords known as brute-force or similar. This has greatly reduced a compromised email account or server’s abuse. Base on my experience, SmarterMail email server has very low a compromised email account uses to send spam emails. Thanks to the IDS in SmarterMail.

Is SmarterMail a good email server software?

Many asked me this question, Is SmarterMail good? How good is good? I have used many email server software for the last 25 years. SmarterMail gives me the reason to acquire partnership. NOT that I said good because I’m selling them but the other way round.

I can still remember it was version 2 when I know the existence of SmaterMail through Plesk. It works on Windows Server and it has given me the perception it was a heavy software and it does simple email function and full stop.

Since then I didn’t pay much attention until version 13 or 14. I have SmarterMail has very intuitive GUI especially the Webmail. Coincidentally, I was turned down by the free webmail offer in many control panels. I was looking for something better but unfortunately. it runs only on a Windows server.

So, this is when I have asked my client to split their website and emails, rather you are putting them int the same server. Yes, you can do that and in a way, you are reducing your risk by having these functions on 2 separated servers. Of course, now can easily use SmarterMail as your email server while you can run your website and Linux Apache web server.

I have noticed those on SmarterMail has high retention rate than others. That’s mean to say, customers are satisfied. And I have noticed many have used webmail and the population on mail client applications like outlook has dropped. I personally use them, the webmail has many good features and it is easy to use.

For those managing a SmarterMail email server will agree with me. If you have administrated other email servers, you will find SmarterMaill is a breeze, it is so much easy to understand and operate. Even you do have a technical background, probably some guidance may do the job.

SmarterMail is built with IDS. We have yet to find any email server software come with an IDS. Brute-force is one common problem for all and SmarterMail has this protection and automatically block unwanted access. Not forgetting the anti-spam, anti-virus, exchange sync add-ons available to enhance users’ experience.

I’m very happy with SmarterMail and proud to be their partner. I have servers are serving a few thousand mailboxes, they are hardly giving me problems. It saves me a tremendous amount of time and efforts in administrating these servers. I love SmarterMail.

 

When do you lease or purchase a SmarterMail license?

We offer both leased and buy licenses for SmarterMail licenses. But when do buy or leased a SmarterMail license? I wrote as a simple guide to help you decide to buy or lease a SmarterMail license.

  • If you are planning to use it up to 12 months or longer. You will save more in the long run if you buy a license.
  • If you don’t want to be bothered by the monthly invoice using leased license, buy a license.
  • If you are thinking there is a chance to downgrade the number of mailboxes, lease a license.
  • You don’t want to pay upfront with the result of a bigger amount, lease a license.
  • You need a shorter period of time but more than 30 days, lease a license.

Whether you are leasing or buying a SmarterMail license, they are the same. SmarterMail has 3 types of license, the free, the Pro and the Enterprise. If you have not more than 10 mailboxes, you can install a free copy of the SmarterMail onto your server.

Modsecurity in cPanel

Another great feature in WHM/ cPanel easily neglected is the modsecurity. It is useful you have not got any web protection like Sucuri Firewall Pro. Users did not enable this feature to protect their open sourced website like WordPress, Joomla etc. This module is enabled by default but there is no rule to process. So it is as good as it is disabled.

Go to modsecurity to install vendors, I use OWSAP commonly. And remember to enable to process the rules in configuration. The rules will stop common attacks and viabilities of your website. This is important feature to those do not have ant web protection.

Transfer Tools in WHM/ cPanel

This is a very useful tool in WHM/ cPanel. But many server admin or users have neglected this. Either it is not often used or the control panel has many features and too clustered. But nevertheless, today I’m showing you these tools found in WHM/ cPanel.

transfer tool in cpanelThere are 2 transfer tools might be handy if you are moving to another host. The Restore a Full Backup/cpmove File and the transfer Tool. So both do the same job but the processes are different. You must know these tools in case one has an error. Restore a Full Backup/cpmove File is kind of semi-migration tool. You go to the website via cPanel of the source server and do a Full backup, The backup will be in certain formatted name recognised by cPanel as a restoration when it has completed. The backup file will be located in your home directory. You can either use rsync if you have the root access or use FTP to the source server. Place the backup file in the backup home directory of the destination server, and you use Restore a Full Backup/cpmove File to restore a backup file.

On a full backup, you can also use FTP 0r SCP remotely dump the backup file to the destination server also. But I found that rsync is more reliable. It is a personal preference, o it is about transfer a file from the source to a destination server.

transfer toolThe other is the transfer tool. The tool migrates the desired accounts or websites from the source server to the destination server. So the transfer tool might be suitable to an intermedia user. You need root or sudo users to access, to migrate the accounts. After you have initiated a transfer, you do not need to stare or watch them.  You can safely close your browser, and the session is still active. You can come back to review the entire transfer process later. Most are self-explanatory, I will not further elaborate.

These 2 migration tools have a high success rate. Even you are migrating a website from another control panel, which limited to the ‘Transfer Tool’. They have saved us plenty of time and effort.

CSF and WHM/ cPanel

This is commonly found in a WHM / cPanel VPS or dedicated server. Actually, CSF is effective and it is free. A lot of server admin will install them as soon as they have received it. But seriously speaking, how many users know how to tweak and optimise the performance. Honestly, very few and I always see people left them in auto-pilot mode and full stop. So what is CSF? Yes, it is a firewall and it is software based. It is installed onto the server.

There is nothing wrong to install a piece of free and useful software. Wait for a second, did I just say it was useful? In certain extent, it is a Yes. But I have seen many cases, CSF is added burden to the user.

I have seen many as I have said, they simply install and turned on the firewall. If you are doing this, you might accidentally block good users or in the worst situation, you are blocked. When such a thing has happened, may have treated the service is not available and it can be frustrating especially it has happened often. There is the case, like packet loss when you are pinging the server IP or domain name. This is because of CSF. Simply turn it off and everything is back to normal.

Don’t get me wrong, CSF is useful but you need to know how to use it. Without, it can be a hassle for you. So I never buy an idea like installing a software firewall on the server. Actually, if the attacks come, the firewall will eat up the resources on the server and eventually the server performance is affected. But a web firewall like Sucuri Firewall Pro does not install onto the server, it has offloaded the server and because of many distributed points, it helps to speed up a website if you are staying further from the source of the website.

Email Server administrators vs Users

An email server is a machine, the instructions, the rules, and the policies are implemented by a person. He or she is probably known as the server admin. The server admin manages the operation of a server includes the email service. To end users are about email, but it is not the case for a server admin. When an email is sent or receive it goes through a mechanism. This is a series of rules and policies implemented by the server admin to its email server.

There are a few types of server admin. I mean how they worked and behave, no offence to anyone. These are the peoples I have met, and spoken. I’d like you to understand everyone has their standpoints. Communication is still the key to resolve an issue.

This is what I have heard from both parties. I cannot send email, I cannot receive email, emails are missing. These are the common issues faced by end users. Thus, the server admin steps in. Server admin is not an easy role especially comes to emails. As emails involve the senders and receivers, and most times they are external bodies. So the problem can be anyone. At this point, you need an experienced server admin to narrow down or troubleshoot the issue. Firstly, he or she has to determine it is the sender or receiver’s issue. Then, he or she can drill down and pinpoint where is the issue. Because the email servers are more sophisticated than the last 5 years. Thanks to the spam emails. Most email servers have treated anti-sm as the top priority and feature in an email server. The feature like enable SPF, DKIM, RBL and the various anti-spam mechanisms. Receiving or sending an email is never like before. Before an email is delivered to the mailbox, it goes through a series of anti-spam policies, and some even you are sending an email.

Here come the problems. One day, an end user is walking to the server admin claimed that he has not been able to receive someone’s emails. Sound familiar? A good server admin would start checking on the logs if such emails were delivered. Yes, they were, but it was identified as Spam email, landed in the junk folder, unfortunately, the user has set up a POP3 email account, do not subscribe to this folder. He has missed these emails delivered to the junk folder. Another scenario, the email was bounced by the recipient’s email server. You asked why it was bounced? Then the server admin is trying to explain to you what is SPF. Of course, there are scenarios are not mentioned here. Nevertheless, you now see the differences, the server admin set up the anti-spam policies to combat spam emails but emails are not classified as spam emails by the users but they were spam email on the server.

So who is right? Apparently, no one s wrong. If the users can understand how an email is classified as spam and the remedy. Obviously, he or she does not administrate the server, but the end users should at least know how they work. If the server admin can share the details with the end users like setting up an IMAP email account, how to read email source or header. This knowledge reduces the misunderstandings, and reduce the workload on the server admin. The server admin must understand what he or she is doing, not simply left it as default or the more rule are better. Without a good understanding of how things work, might ruin other’s works.