Review: ActiveState PureMessage

PureMessage is a useful tool that shows a little elbow grease will provide organizations with a great deal of control over their anti-spam problem.

Activestates PureMessage 4.0 takes a highly configurable approach to blocking spam. The optional Domain Administration tool would allow WiscNet much of the end-user and domain administration flexibility it craves, but the additional price would also include up to 1 hour per week of administration to tune the filter rules.

Based on our work with WiscNet, eWEEK Labs recommends PureMessage for organizations that must allow users to opt out of anti-spam filtering and for organizations that want to filter more than spam and go after unwanted e-mail that doesnt meet the official spam definition.

Of all the products we evaluated, PureMessage was by far the easiest to tune for particular mail characteristics. For example, its Policy Builder gave us nearly complete control over message handling rule creation. We could test for specific words and phrases and then define a wide range of actions to take on the message, from marking up the header to quarantining the message to deleting the message. The drawback to this much power is that mail administrators could easily change their spam problem into an anti-spam management problem.

Many judges perked up upon hearing about PureMessages ability to check outbound e-mail for spam characteristics. This could help organizations from inadvertently becoming the launching point of a spam attack.

PureMessage uses many of the common techniques to effectively identify spam, including Realtime Blackhole Lists, malformed headers and pattern matching. Once messages are identified as spam, it is easy for users to check their quarantine folder. PureMessage can be configured to send an e-mail that contains a digest of all suspect e-mail. WiscNet and eWEEK Labs liked that users could resurrect messages from their own quarantine. The digest feature was easy to turn off (to prevent, for example, K-12 students from getting junk mail).

Senior Analyst Cameron Sturdevant can be reached at cameron_sturdevant@