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Cloudmark immunizes enterprises against spam

Jun 17, 20043 mins
MalwareMessaging AppsNetworking

Anti-spam vendor Cloudmark Thursday announced Immunity, software designed to detect spam by using a “genetic map” that customizes itself to a company’s definition of unwanted e-mail.

Cloudmark promises that Immunity, which sits at a company’s e-mail gateway, will catch 100% of enterprise companies’ spam without generating any false positives, or messages wrongly classified as unwanted, says CEO Karl Jacob. Slated for availability before the end of July, Immunity creates a genetic map, or storage structure, that contains all the known information describing spam messages and sifts through incoming e-mail looking for matches.

What sets Immunity apart from competing anti-spam software, such as products from Brightmail and Proofpoint, is its ability to automatically modify that genetic map to keep up with a company’s changing definition of spam, Jacob says. “The key to stopping spam is having a complete understanding and knowledge of what’s out there,” he says. “The fundamental tenets [of other anti-spam products] is to collect what they know about spam and distill it down into a rule or list, then transfer that to an enterprise. What you get at the enterprise is never a complete picture of spam.”

Immunity automatically updates the genetic map by monitoring end-user actions. For example, if one user in a company wants to receive messages with credit card offers while the rest of the organization does not, Immunity will capture that information when the user opts to receive such e-mail and modify the genetic map for that particular user, Jacob says. Cloudmark also provides customers with monthly map updates containing new information that the company gleans about spam via an e-mail message, he adds.

“Immunity is… going in the direction of what I would call artificial intelligence systems that basically learn and adjust pretty dynamically” to what an enterprise defines as spam, says Sara Radicati, principal analyst at The Radicati Group. However, she added that she doesn’t believe that any anti-spam product will completely eliminate unwanted messages.

By automatically updating itself, Immunity doesn’t come with the administrative burden that other anti-spam software places on both IT managers and users, Jacob says. Users don’t need to maintain and update white and black lists, for example. Cloudmark’s new software also includes an administrative tool called nD Visualizer for viewing a company’s e-mail genetic map as it adapts to end-user preferences. “You’re able to actually view and understand the e-mail flowing in and [see] what’s going on with the feedback from the organization,” he says.

Cloudmark has tentatively set the price for Immunity at $15 per user per year. The company will continue to sell its Authority enterprise anti-spam software, Jacob says, although he expects new enterprise customers will choose Immunity instead for its high level of accuracy in catching spam and ease of administration.

In addition to its enterprise software, Cloudmark sells anti-spam software for e-mail clients that lets users automatically report unwanted messages to the company’s SpamNet spam-fighting community. 

Cloudmark launched Immunity at the Email Technology Conference held in San Francisco this week.