E-mail appliance chokes off spam

Recent data from IronPort Systems Inc.’s SenderBase network indicates that average daily spam volumes are up 118 per cent over the last year, and that 80 per cent to 90 per cent of all e-mail traffic is spam. Worse, about one-third of the spam is image spam, which has proven particularly elusive.

San Bruno, Calif.-based IronPort offers e-mail security appliances for large organizations and Internet security providers. The appliances are designed to intercept spam and virus-carrying messages and to detect mass outbreaks of either.

The company has released a new e-mail security appliance, the high-performance X1050, that’s designed to help users combat the rapidly increasing levels of spam traffic. According to the company, the new machine delivers 400 per cent more processing power than its previous generation of e-mail security appliances.

Moreover, IronPort says the X1050 can scan more than 2.5 million messages per hour, which translates to nearly 700 per second, and it has enough processing horsepower to do more in each scan it performs.

The company claims that the improved performance translates into greater spam detection accuracy, fewer false positives, and better detection of image spam.

Like other IronPort e-mail security devices, the X1050 is designed to protect against both inbound and outbound spam, and it employs the company’s Context Adaptive Scanning Engine (CASE), which is designed to provide fast and accurate protection against the spam and virus attacks that it detects. The IronPort network delivers news of such attacks worldwide to every user site that has one of its appliances installed.

IronPort’s spam-handling performance is not just a product of its high-performance hardware, according to senior product manager Nick Edwards.

“We get a big lift out of the purpose-built AsyncOS operating system developed in 2000 and 2001 when the company was started,” he says. “This unique OS allows us to provide multiple security models that include antispam, antivirus, and outbreak protection. That’s important because no one really knows what the next threat is going to be.”

Edwards reports that today’s enormous spam load forces IronPort’s large corporate and ISP customers to employ several IronPort X1050 appliances. “The largest ISPs have 40 to 60 of these machines, and large enterprises have as many as 20,” he says.

IronPort’s customers include AOL LLC, Sprint Nextel Corp., Verizon Communications Inc., BellSouth Corp., Rogers Communications Inc., Research In Motion Ltd., Telmex, China Telecom, China Netcom, Times (India) Internet and Korea Telecom. The company also says that it has appliances installed at more than 20 per cent of the world’s largest companies.

Insight Communications Co., a New York-based cable television provider that serves Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Illinois, uses IronPort X1050’s to protect its one million mailboxes. Insight’s Bob Fayne says of the new machine, “It is a major improvement over previous generations, as it allows us to minimize the number of IronPort appliances that we need while providing plenty of extra capacity to handle spam attacks.”

Mats Fredholm of Sweden’s Telenor/Glocalnet adds that “today, IronPort’s X1050’s stop about 95 percent of all unwanted e-mail, resulting in the ultimate spam-free user experience.” He said he had tested other products and found the IronPort machine led the field in both performance and accuracy.