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Cloudmark speaks with Authority

Nov. 19, 2002

By Michael Osterman
Network World Messaging Newsletter

In June, Cloudmark introduced consumer-oriented antispam software that relies on users of a Microsoft Outlook plug-in to classify e-mail as spam and automatically report this information back to Cloudmark’s SpamNet network of spam fighters. To date, Cloudmark has signed up more than 185,000 users, which has generated a database of unique spam messages in excess of 30G bytes.

This week, Cloudmark introduces an enterprise-oriented antispam system called Cloudmark Authority that operates at the gateway level. Instead of relying on users to determine what constitutes spam and then reporting this back to Cloudmark’s SpamNet, or relying on rules (as with some other antispam products), Authority predicts spammers’ methods of delivering their content and prevents the delivery of offending messages.

Authority works on the principle that, like DNA, spam messages have a certain structure, and that senders of spam modify the structure of their messages just like DNA mutates in nature. Authority looks for these mutations in the structure of incoming messages and enters this information into its Bayesian classifier to determine the likelihood that any particular message is spam. Each message is then classified according to the likelihood that it is spam. Based on this likelihood, each message can then be rejected, quarantined or sent through to end users in accordance with corporate policies.

The advantages that Cloudmark claims Authority provides, compared to competing products, are its low impact on the message transfer agent’s performance (only 5% to 10%), its ability to operate without an Internet connection, and low maintenance because updates occur only every 30 to 60 days. Authority can be used as a stand-alone product or in conjunction with the already-available Outlook plug-in.

Authority is currently available only for Unix systems, but a Windows-based version will be introduced in December. Pricing for Authority is $10 per mailbox per year, although Cloudmark is offering customers the opportunity to use the product for 30 days at no charge.

Michael D. Osterman is the principal of Osterman Research, a market research firm that helps organizations understand the markets for messaging, directory and related products and services. He can be reached at [email][email protected][/email].