Cloudmark Targets Enterprise Anti-Spam Market

November 19, 2002

Computerwire / The Register
by Kevin Murphy

Cloudmark Inc yesterday said it is broadening its product line to not only tackle desktop spam filtering, already addressed with its SpamNet offering, but also filtering at the enterprise mail gateway, where it sees a more lucrative opportunity.

The company announced Cloudmark Authority, which uses probability algorithms to rank email in terms of its likelihood of being spam and allow the administrator to specify confidence thresholds, rather than returning a black/white answer.

CEO Karl Jacob said the company ran a database of 12 million known spams, culled from SpamNet, and a database of legitimate email through a Bayesian classifier, which analyzed the email for structural characteristics and came back with 150 fingerprints.

Cloudmark calls these fingerprints “spamGenes”. By comparing incoming email against these spamGenes, the Authority software can return the probability of a mail being spam, even if it was not in the original database the fingerprints were generated from.

Jacob said this means enterprise users do not have to have a constant feed of fingerprints, each of which identifies just one spam, coming into the enterprise. The spamGenes need to be updated only once every 30 to 60 days, he said.

“Because it looks at message structure, you don’t have to worry about spammers changing the words they use,” Jacob said. Structural elements include spacing, punctuation and message headers. “[In tests] we found we were finding over 90% of spam.”

Administrators get to choose what happens to a mail at the gateway based on the level of confidence that it is spam the software returns. Beta users tend to set it to delete any mail with over 80% confidence, and flag as possible spam for manual review or filtering.

Some studies recently suggest that up to 25% or 33% of corporate email is spam. Cloudmark estimates that if each employee receives 10 spams a day, it costs the company $86 per year per employee in lost productivity. Cloudmark Authority costs $10 per mailbox per year.