Brightmail Bows Reputation Service

Anti-spam software company Brightmail has added a new arrow to its quiver with the Brightmail Reputation Service, which identifies prime sources of spam and blocks the bad stuff while (hopefully) ensuring delivery of the good.

The service measures the amount of legitimate e-mail versus spam messages originating from a given IP address and creates detailed profiles for each source, including the history and quality of the e-mail sent. Users can then decide whether to block or allow e-mail based on the profiles. The approach is similar to that used by some operators of blacklists.

So-called reputation databases are thought to be key to solving the spam problem, since they give mail recipients the information they need to know whether to block mail coming from a specific source. Accurately identifying the source, in an environment when IP addresses and “from” addresses are routinely forged, is another big challenge. Several companies, including America Online and Yahoo!, have recently proposed potential solutions that get at the identity piece of the spam-fighting puzzle.

Spam filtering players like Brightmail and IronPort, because of their position at the nexus of the spam battle, are well positioned to provide the reputation element.

Ken Schneider, CTO and VP operations for Brightmail, estimates that his company processes 3 or 4 billion e-mails a day. The company’s customers have more than 300 million mailboxes, he said. Customers include some 15 of the 20 major ISPs in the United States such as ATT Worldnet, as well as 75 to 100 Fortune 500 customers. Hotmail, one of the largest e-mail services in the world, is a client.

The Brightmail profiles are updated hourly, according to the six-year-old company’s chief technology officer. “We update hourly to reflect any changes such as new spam sources or anomalous behavior,” said Schneider.

The reputation service is a new element of Brightmail’s offering and will not cost its clients extra.

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