RealTime IT News

Symantec to Turn Tide on Spam

Symantec's push into the red-hot spam-fighting market got another boost this week with its $28 million acquisition of TurnTide, a company known for its spam-routing technology.

The deal comes less than two months after Symantec shelled out $370 million to acquire anti-spam and anti-virus specialist Brightmail to enhance its enterprise product line-up.

TurnTide, which was known as SpamSquelcher before it was spun off by the ePrivacyGroup, markets an Anti-Spam Router (TurnTide ASR) that takes an unusual approach to fighting the scourge of unsolicited mail. Instead of filtering junk mail, TurnTide targets message paths instead of individual messages to slow traffic flows that seem suspicious.

Anti-spam experts hail TurnTide's ASR as the "only device that really reduces spam."

Stephen Cobb, a security consultant who was heavily involved in the creation of SpamSquelcher under the ePrivacyGroup umbrella, believes it is a "very smart" acquisition by Symantec, because of the unique approach of slowing spam delivery instead of using filtering techniques.

"Since the same technology has applications beyond spam, as in the control of outbound e-mail at the network layer, I think this acquisition is a very smart move by Symantec and a good fit with their earlier acquisition of Brightmail," Cobb said in an interview with internetnews.com.

Symantec has not yet officially announced the acquisition, which became public when TurnTide posted a note on its Web site. A company spokesman confirmed the all-cash deal, which has no pending regulatory or shareholder requirements.

"We intend to offer TurnTide as a standalone solution on Symantec hardware and, in future, we plan to integrate it with our gateway security solutions," the spokesman added.

With the TurnTide acquisition, Symantec could potentially integrate the anti-spam routing features in Brightmail's corporate offerings to save heavily on bandwidth and server capacity. Symantec could also put TurnTide into the security appliances that handle the monitoring of inbound and outbound traffic.

Earlier this week, the company released the Symantec Brightmail Anti-Spam Version 6.0, an enterprise-focused upgrade that adds a centralized Web-based control center, consolidated logging and reporting, and global policies that can be created on a per-user or per-group basis.

The new version also adds non-English-language filtering to handle spam from different countries and attachment signature technology to create filters based on a specific MIME attachment. These attachment signatures protect organizations from spam with commonly appearing attachments.