Software // Enterprise Applications
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2/4/2005
04:15 PM
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Ditch E-Mails Of Poor Repute

CipherTrust's upgraded reputation filter tracks 50 million IP addresses to help determine whether a message is spam.

E-mail security company CipherTrust Inc. last week rolled out an upgrade to its E-mail reputation filter, TrustedSource 3.0. The upgrade, which is available free to existing customers and will be integrated into the company's IronMail message security appliance, tracks some 50 million IP addresses that send E-mail to CipherTrust's network of customers. TrustedSource 3.0 uses the data to help determine whether a message is spam.

A number of other E-mail security companies also filter based on reputation, including IronPort Systems, MessageLabs, Postini, and Symantec's Brightmail. Not all anti-spam vendors, however, handle enough messages to effectively evaluate senders' reputations.

"The key thing in establishing an effective reputation service is it's all about the volume," says Matt Cain, senior VP at research firm Meta Group. "The more data points you can gather, the more reliable that information becomes over time. Given that CipherTrust has one of the best-selling products out there, they do have a broad enough network where they can build a fairly effective reputation service."

CipherTrust has found that 30% of the average enterprise's incoming messages originate from IP addresses that seldom send E-mail. These addresses, the company says, have a high probability of being zombie machines spewing spam. CipherTrust's network detects 18,000 new zombies an hour.

Reputation is only one of many metrics used to determine whether an E-mail message should be blocked. Bayesian analysis, heuristics, header analysis, content filtering, and spam signatures all have their uses in evaluating messages, as well.

But because spammers have become so sophisticated in the techniques to bypass content filters, many in the industry see reputation as a more promising approach.

Says Matt Anthony, director of product marketing at CipherTrust, "We think reputation is really going to be critical to E-mail security going forward."

Illustration by Veer

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