ISP Credits Linux-Based Appliance For Drastically Slowing Down Spam

The Linux-based Corvigo anti-spam appliance deployed by Pivotal Dynamics at Cox Communications has successfully filtered between 10 and 20 million messages a day, according to Cox officials.
A Linux-based antispam appliance that leverages artificial intelligence helped a Cox Communications ISP stamp out 95 percent of its spam, the company said.

Officials at Cox Communications Middle American broadband ISP operation said the anti-spam program, based by Corvigo's intent-based filtering, provided almost immediate benefits.

It marks the first implementation of an artificial intelligence anti-spam program by an ISP, said Jeff Ready, CEO of the antispam appliance vendor. The Corvigo installation at Cox was deployed by systems integrator Pivotal Dynamics. Corvigo was acquired earlier this month by Tumbleweed Communications Corp in a cash and stock deal.

Numbers help tell the story of Cox's operation, Ready said. It receives between 10 and 20 million e-mail messages a day. It reads about 40 messages a second and sorts them into three categories -- "legitimate," "bulk" like catalog subscriptions, and "junk" spam. The Corvigo technology catches about 95 percent of spam and enables legitimate messages to get through, Cox said.

By combining machine-learning techniques with natural language processing, the AI program reads the text of the messages and then sorts them into one of the three categories, Ready said.

The intent-based filtering resides in Corvigo's MailGate appliance, and it does not have to be updated to catch new spam versions, Ready said.

"AI techniques are able to recognize patterns of speech, even patterns of spam that haven't been seen before," Ready said. "Other good anti-spam programs will catch 99 percent of old spam, but they miss new spam. And there are hundreds of new spam each day."

In one example,, the vendors said its product could recognize as legitimate an e-mail containing a traveler's itinerary, but a message from the same airline hawking a travel promotion would be seen as spam and sorted to a bulk category.

The MailGate appliance and the IBF technology can be set up in 30 minutes and requires no updating or even routine maintenance, the company said. The technology is not available to individual users. As an example of price, Fuller said a small or medium business with 50 users could purchase an integrated plug-and-play appliance for about $5,000. The appliance sits in front of a company's e-mail service and behind its firewall.

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