Detroit Knocks Out E-mail Threats

Motor City sees immediate relief from onslaught of spam and dramatic improvement in e-mail system.

by / July 9, 2008

The Motor City of America, known for its legacy of developing fast automobiles, recently saw its city government e-mail system slow to a crawl, plagued with e-mail servers overrun with spam and computers infected with viruses. That's when the city of Detroit Information Technology Services (ITS) decided to replace their server-based anti-spam solution with Websense Hosted e-mail Security across all 42 city departments. Almost immediately, city officials saw their spam problem disappear and communication channels flow freely without system failures.

With more than eight thousand city employees across Detroit employed in departments including the fire department, mayor's office and city police, Detroit city ITS officials are charged with keeping the city's technology systems up and running while adhering to Detroit's progressive citywide stance on reducing costs and streamlining processes that are ineffective or inefficient. Recent budget cuts and staff reductions combined with an increase in spam comprising nearly 80 percent of e-mail traffic, left city IT staff scrambling to keep up with the anti-spam server system maintenance. Overloaded, the servers often went down, frequently stopping e-mail communication.

"When budget cuts hit our department we were unable to keep up with the necessary anti-spam server maintenance and almost daily a server would go down, taking the e-mail system with it," said Sreenivas Cherukuri, director of IT services for the city of Detroit. "Complaints across the city were frequent and we knew we needed to make a change. At first we wanted to try an appliance we could manage ourselves but when our technology partner OAS demonstrated Websense Hosted e-mail Security, and we realized how much easier it would be to have all traffic run through Websense, we were sold."

The city of Detroit deployed the new security system across all 42 departments that reside in more than 140 locations. The results were immediate. The e-mail system ran smoothly, system delays ceased and city employees were pleased.

"In addition to our e-mail system maintenance problem, many city computers had become infected with viruses and employees' compromised machines were inadvertently sending out malware that resulted in city e-mail addresses getting blacklisted by outside firms," explained Cherukuri. "This was a huge problem in that e-mails were not getting to their intended recipients and caused an embarrassing public relations issue. Immediately upon deploying the new system that runs through Websense IP addresses, our blacklist status was eradicated. Without this system we would have had to get off blacklists one by one resulting in hours of staff time. Standardizing on Websense Hosted E-mail Security has been a big win for our department and fits with Mayor Kilpatrick Administration's vision for departmental efficiency and effectiveness."