Toronto outfit manages spam problem

For organizations that are sick of being bombarded with unwanted e-mail, Toronto-based 800onemail Inc. is introducing an anti-spam service.

The company offers a fully managed e-mail firewall service which is compatible with virtually all e-mail systems. The offering operates on the company’s two-factor virus identification and containment systems.

The service’s filtering system is proprietary, and was written by the company and looks directly at the content of the message. Gus Harsfai, president at 800onemail, said the advantage of having two separate anti-virus products running simultaneously is that even if one of the signature files hides itself behind the other, the second product is most likely able to capture the virus or spam.

The anti-spam server will first look at the sender of the message or subject line and compare it to signatures 800onemail has developed to evaluate if the e-mail is spam. If the system does recognize it as a virus or junk mail, it is quarantined in a customer-specific area, a feature that is unique to all its customers.

The servers that store the confidential information are housed at Q9 Networks Inc.’s data centre, located in Toronto with another facility in New York.

Ultimately, the goal of what the service can offer is “to completely hide the customer’s mail system from the public Internet and protect them at the same time,” Harsfai said.

The idea of having another organization manage your company’s e-mail server is but one option organizations have to choose from. In a recent study compiled by Osterman Research, enterprises were asked: how would you most prefer to have your junk mail handled? Surprisingly, larger organizations responded they would rather see spam fought in-house at either the server or gateway level, explained company founder Michael Osterman in Black Diamond, Wash.

He estimated that one in three e-mails now processed is spam, and as draining as that is on storage requirements coupled with the strains increased on messaging processing cycles, most companies would prefer to deal with spam rather than suffer the possible repercussions.

“You’d rather get lots of spam than miss that critical message from your key partner or biggest customer,” he said. It’s an issue Osterman called “dealing with a false positive.” It’s a case where the user would choose to view the quarantined item just to make sure that it isn’t something critical or urgent.

Bob Fabian, a Toronto-based independent consult, says that on average, he receives between 50 and 100 junk e-mails per day – or half of his e-mail. It is a problem that has left Fabian frustrated.

“Spam has grown to the level where it’s uncontrollable,” he said.

Organizations interested in sampling 800onemail’s managed e-mail service can receive the service for free for 30 days if the company is contacted before November 30, 2002. The offering is available to all organizations, regardless of size. Harsfai said the flat fee is $5 per user, per service, per month.

For additional information, visit the company online at