IronPort aims high with e-mail security appliance

IronPort Systems this week announced a new version of its e-mail security appliance for large organizations that can process up to 1 million messages per hour.

Called the X1000 and priced starting at US$90,000, this mail transfer agent is tuned to offer the high performance that large companies and ISPs need, says Tom Gillis, IronPort’s senior vice-president for worldwide marketing. In addition, the new appliance offers protection from inbound and outbound e-mail abuses such as spam, viruses, and phishing through the included Reputation Filters that rate the sending history of a given IP address.

The Reputation Filters use IronPort’s SenderBase database that tracks e-mail being sent over the Internet and can flag suspicious activity such as addresses that send bursts of mail in a short amount of time.

Also available are third-party filters for virus protection from Sophos and Symantec, as well as spam protection from Symantec’s Brightmail division that are sold separately.

IronPort has included with the X1000 DomainKey e-mail authentication technology that was developed by Yahoo, Gillis says. This technology authenticates an e-mail’s sender by using public and private keys to match the content of a sent message with one stored on the sender’s server, verifying the sender is who he says he is.

The process of matching public and private keys is a simple DNS look up, Gillis says, but can affect how quickly mail sent using DomainKeys is processed. IronPort has tuned the performance of the X1000 to be able to handle these look-ups without performance degradations, he says.

The company will make DomainKey technology available to users of its other appliances through an upgrade to its operating system called AsyncOS. This upgrade will be available during the second half of the year at no additional charge for existing users with service plans.

While DomainKey technology would provide an extra level of protection from messaging abuses, it might be overkill for some users. Corestaff Support Services, a temporary and permanent-staffing company, is content running IronPort’s C60 appliance to protect its 2,000 users from spam. “We’re very happy with the Brightmail and SenderBase parts. Obviously it doesn’t get everything, but [spam] isn’t a pain point for us right now,” says Donald Murphy, manager of Corestaff’s technology support.

Although IronPort will make DomainKey technology available across its product line, the company continues to support other sender-authentication initiatives, including SenderID. Gillis recommends companies employ both because two technologies go about verifying a sender’s identity in different ways. While DomainKey focuses on authenticating the content of a message to verify its sender, SenderID is designed to check the sender’s IP address.

IronPort competes with e-mail appliance vendors including CipherTrust, Proofpoint and BorderWare.

Related links:

E-mail gains new armour against spam, virus attacks

How to stay out of e-mail jail

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