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Spam: New year, same old story

Jan 27, 20033 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMalware

It’s a new year, but unfortunately the spam story is getting worse

It’s a new year, but unfortunately the spam story is getting worse.

Junk-mail buster Postini, which processes about 40 million messages per day through its hosted service, reported earlier this month that spam as a percent of overall e-mail volume grew by more than 150% in 2002 and that the average user’s e-mail volume is now polluted with 60% spam.

With those staggering facts in mind, vendors are rushing to answer corporate demand for tools to fight the attack.

IntelliReach last week released MessageScreen, which is available as as an antispam appliance or as software that can be deployed behind a corporate firewall. Start-up FrontBridge this week is rolling out its first offering – a hosted spam and virus protection service called Enterprise Message Management Services.

Later next month, MailFrontier will add upgrades to its antispam technology.

Corporations are more interested than ever in this technology as they begin to realize the true costs of spam and its drain on corporate resources. Spam is expected to cost American corporations $10 billion in 2003 or about $14 per user, per month, according to Ferris Research.

“It’s quickly getting worse,” says David Ferris, president of Ferris Research. “IT has to start taking action.” Ferris says that can include user education, industry initiatives and technology.

Options are coming from hosted services and enterprise-class applications with IntelliReach, FrontBridge and MailFrontier competing with others such as Brightmail, MAPS, Postini, Trend Micro, Tumbleweed, ActiveState, Cloudmark and a host of antivirus vendors that are adding spam blocking to their software.

IntelliReach’s MessageScreen comes in two versions: an appliance that operates on an embedded version of Sun Solaris or as software that runs on Windows 2000.

The products are based on technology the company acquired earlier this month from MX Sciences, which developed an antispam filter. The software analyzes an e-mail message and scores it based on content to reduce false-positive reports. The score is compared with a sensitivity ranking an administrator sets to determine if it should be blocked.

The software also provides users a tool to manage their own lists of quarantined e-mail and an antivirus feature called Attachment Parking, which stores attachments outside the mail system and lets users download them via a Web browser.

Pricing for MessageScreen starts at $1,200.

“As spammers get more creative we have to evolve to things like natural-language processes and sophisticated content analysis,” says Greg Arnette, CEO of IntelliReach.

This week, FrontBridge, previously BigFish Communications, formally introduces its service called Enterprise Message Management Services.

The service is supported by a network of seven data centers and incorporates an antispam engine that has four layers – blacklist, content filtering, fingerprinting and scoring.

The fingerprinting matches messages that have been altered only slightly to avoid easy detection by spam filters and deletes them as a group. The scoring system has nearly 8,000 rules for grading the positive and negative words within a message. FrontBridge also has a service that catches outbound mail and checks it for compliance with company e-mail policies. The service also provides Web-based reporting and administration tools.

FrontBridge also plans to add an archiving service before year-end.

The software is priced at $2 to $3 per user.