Spam Killer Keeps Junk Mail Off the Net

By John Taschek  |  Posted 2003-07-14 Print this article Print

FrontBridge provides an effective, if pricey, way to manage unsolicited e-mail.

Frontbridge Technologies Inc.s TrueProtect Message Management Suite and SpamShark service stand out as solid anti-spamware, and after two months of real-world testing, the duo earns eWEEK Labs Analysts Choice honors for the enterprise market.

FrontBridge TrueProtect Suite
Although no junk-mail filtering service is 100 percent effective—the best services stop only about 90 percent of the spam—FrontBridges TrueProtect Suite performs with the best. What sets TrueProtect apart from its competitors is its network topology, its reliability and its ability to host quarantine spam off corporate users e-mail systems.
  • PRO: Network reliability; best-of-breed anti-virus tools; flexibility in handling flagged e-mail (it can be quarantined offline or tagged); excellent network performance; good policy management tools.

  • CON: Simplistic administration console is functional at best; meager reporting tools; no data analysis capabilities on the reports; no hyperlinks between administration console and SpamShark service.

    Postinis Perimeter Manager • Cloudmarks Authority • Inc.s SpamCure and SpamRepellent • Brightmail Inc.s Anti-Spam Enterprise Edition • MailFrontier Inc.s Anti-Spam Gateway
    Spam-killer services such as FrontBridges TrueProtect, which includes anti-virus and spam filters (SpamShark is the anti-spam component), take over the mail exchange record at the ISP and route e-mail through the service rather than directly through the corporate gateway.

    TrueProtect costs $1.50 to $3 per person per month. Competitive products can be less expensive. Postini Inc.s Perimeter Manager, for example, costs less than $1.50 per person per month.

    The TrueProtect suite uses a heuristics-based, three-step methodology to track spam. It first uses a proprietary blacklist (known spammers) to block out the worst offenders. It then uses fingerprinting—scanning the message for spamlike attributes. Finally, it scores the message based on FrontBridges proprietary methodology.

    Unlike most services, TrueProtect gives users the option of having FrontBridge host their spam, thereby freeing their mail servers. FrontBridge calls this the spam quarantine, and its the way we tested the service.

    This spam hosting allows users to look at quarantined messages via a Web browser. If viruses get by the filter, theyre not dumped onto a client system, where they can replicate and spread. To see their quarantined messages, users must access SpamShark.

    We performed our test on a local domain account and set up TrueProtect to quarantine messages. We turned on the suites virus-filtering capabilities (which use Trend Micro Inc. technology) and set up TrueProtect to block most foreign character sets.

    TrueProtects administrator interface is nearly devoid of bells and whistles. Competitors generally provide a more option-rich dashboard-style interface.

    We also tested TrueProtect in conjunction with a larger company. On the personal domain, TrueProtect processed approximately 1,000 messages over the testing period, and it flagged more than two-thirds as spam. For the larger corporation, TrueProtect processed 3.5 million messages and quarantined about 2.3 million of them. That equates to eliminating two-thirds of the e-mail load on the mail servers.

    On the user side, some junk mail continued to sneak through; for the personal domain, it was virtually eliminated, with no false positives. On the corporate side, some users were still getting 20 to 30 spam messages per day, including some extremely well-known spam. However, weve experienced this issue with all the filtering services weve seen.

    FrontBridge sets itself apart in the reliability of its network with multiple independent processing facilities. Also, even if a corporate e-mail system goes down, FrontBridge continues to host the mail in its data centers, ensuring there is no loss.

    eWEEK Labs Director John Taschek can be reached at john_

    As the director of eWEEK Labs, John manages a staff that tests and analyzes a wide range of corporate technology products. He has been instrumental in expanding eWEEK Labs' analyses into actual user environments, and has continually engineered the Labs for accurate portrayal of true enterprise infrastructures. John also writes eWEEK's 'Wide Angle' column, which challenges readers interested in enterprise products and strategies to reconsider old assumptions and think about existing IT problems in new ways. Prior to his tenure at eWEEK, which started in 1994, Taschek headed up the performance testing lab at PC/Computing magazine (now called Smart Business). Taschek got his start in IT in Washington D.C., holding various technical positions at the National Alliance of Business and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. There, he and his colleagues assisted the government office with integrating the Windows desktop operating system with HUD's legacy mainframe and mid-range servers.

    Submit a Comment

    Loading Comments...
    Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

    Rocket Fuel