Reflexion bolsters anti-spam features


Reflexion Network Solutions this week is scheduled to release an upgrade to its anti-spam hosted service based on the company's belief that multiple e-mail addresses are better than one.

Total Control 4.0 combines traditional anti-spam tactics, such as whitelisting and content filtering, with an unusual approach to fighting spam. The service lets an unlimited number of e-mail addresses be associated with each user's primary e-mail in-box, so that users can control who has access to their e-mail address and discover when their addresses have been shared without authorization, says Reflexion CEO David Hughes.

The company calls this fractionated in-box access. Each Total Control user has a primary e-mail address; when a new contact tries to reach the user at that address, a response is automatically generated asking the contact to resend to a slightly different address. The idea is that legitimate senders will resend, while spammers, who often use automated scripts to send unwanted e-mail, will not. This is similar to the way challenge-response programs work, such as those from Sendio and CA.

Total Control goes beyond confirming senders are who they say they are by coupling the new contact's e-mail address with the appropriate supplemental e-mail address of the service's user; whenever a third party sends e-mail to that supplemental address the user knows his e-mail address has been shared, and can determine whether or not such action was authorized.

Total Control creates supplemental addresses and resolves them to the primary in-box, so it is transparent to users and system administrators, Hughes says.

In addition, Total Control includes an on-the-fly e-mail address option, so a user who visits a Web site and wants to sign up for e-mail alerts can create a new address for entering into the Web form. If an organization other than the Web site e-mails the user at that address, the user knows it has probably been shared without authorization and can block it accordingly, Hughes says.

When it comes to blocking spam, Total Control works, says David McCary, a founder of McCary Stevens Associates, commercial mortgage underwriters based in Hartford, Conn. Before signing up for Total Control the company had no spam-blocking in place and was "getting crushed," McCary says. Now the 20-person firm gets no unwanted messages.

The service's downside is that it's hard to explain and understand, he says.

"It really took me a while to get comfortable with the concept; it's very different from everything I've read or experienced," McCary says. "Now that I'm a year into [using] it, I can really appreciate how unique and effective the approach is."

With Version 4.0, Reflexion has included Mailshell's content filters and integrated a range of whitelists that specify approved IP addresses. Reflexion has added these features because the company believes the more layers of spam protection a company uses the better, Hughes says.

For an organization with 1,000 users, Total Control 4.0 is priced at $15,000 for the first year, $7,500 for the second year.

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