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Cloudmark immunizes companies against spam

Jun 21, 20043 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMalwareMessaging Apps

Cloudmark last week announced software designed to detect spam by using a “genetic map” that customizes itself to a company’s definition of unwanted e-mail.

Cloudmark last week announced software designed to detect spam by using a “genetic map” that customizes itself to a company’s definition of unwanted e-mail.

CEO Karl Jacob boasts that the company’s Immunity software, which sits at a company’s e-mail gateway, will catch 100% of enterprise customers’ spam without generating any false positives. 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 chooses to receive such e-mail and modify the genetic map for that particular user, Jacob says. Cloudmark also gives Immunity customers monthly map updates via e-mail containing new information about spam, 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 notes she doesn’t think any anti-spam product will eliminate unwanted messages completely.

By automatically updating itself, Immunity doesn’t come with the administrative burden that other anti-spam software places on IT managers and end users, Jacob says. Users don’t need to maintain and update whitelists and blacklists, for example. Cloudmark’s new software also includes an administrative tool called nD Visualizer.

Cloudmark plans to release Immunity at $15 per user, per year, and says it will make the software available by the end of July. The company will continue to sell its Authority enterprise anti-spam software, Jacob says, although he expects new enterprise network customers will choose Immunity instead for its high level of accuracy in catching spam and its ease of administration.

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