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'Brighter' Days for MessageLabs’ Updated Anti-spam Service

In medieval times, people protected themselves from marauders’ attacks by building moats around their castles while inside the castles they erected concentric rings of walls for additional protection. MessageLabs’ newly-updated AntiSpam 4.0 service, in effect, does the same thing, only the marauders it keeps out are spammers, the company says.

The new release of MessageLabs’ anti-spam service provides corporate users with an added layer of protection from spurious e-mails by incorporating Symantec’s Brightmail technology as well as by bulking up MessageLabs’ own spam filtering technology.

“Brightmail has a huge catalog of known spam,” says Brian Czarny, vice president of marketing for New York-based MessageLabs. “Anything that’s in Brightmail lets us wipe it because it’s known spam.”

Besides the addition of Brightmail filtering, however, MessageLabs also enhanced its own Skeptic anti-spam technology. “Skeptic has been updated to add connection-based filtering, as well as support for double-byte characters” Czarny adds.

Connection-based filtering identifies and blocks e-mails originating at suspected IP addresses or sent by zombies -- networks of compromised computers being used to relay spam, according to the company. Skeptic also adds improved analysis of double-byte characters in spam – a technique that is becoming more common as increasing numbers of spam messages use Asian character sets to slip past traditional spam filters.

What Brightmail misses, in theory, then is caught by Skeptic and filtered out. Other levels of protection also built into AntiSpam, include both heuristic and Bayesian analysis technologies. Today, the company processes about 100 million e-mails per day for its customers.

The updated service is available immediately. Pricing for up to 500 users costs $1.50 per user per month, with discounts for additional numbers of users and for multi-year service contracts.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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