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End users want ISPs to can spam

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BTopenworld has signed up Brightmail to tackle the junk mail bombarding its users' accounts. It is to install Brightmail Solution Suite at the SMTP gateway, to hoover up spam before it reaches users.

Customers of BT's broadband service can look forward to relief from viral bombardment, after it licensed Symantec's AV server-side software through the same agreement with Brightmail.

Brightmail CEO Enrique Salem told us that its service allows it to block between 93-95 per cent of junk email sent to user accounts. User themselves don't need to install any software.

Brightmail currently serves six of the main 10 ISPs in the States, and recently signed a deal with MSN to filter spam before it reaches Hotmail in-boxes.

The company is looking to expand its customer base in Europe, selling to both ISPs and corporates. The company has developing its technology to allow it to filter unsolicited messages destined for mobile users, which are expected to become a growing problem in the future.

News of the BTopenworld deal came today alongside findings from Brightmail's research into end user views on how to deal with spam.

More than half (55 per cent) of respondents regarded protection from spam as the responsibility of their ISP, with 63 per cent of businesses receiving junk mail on a daily business. Pornographic email, which is becoming more prevalent, was cited as a particular concern during the survey of 200 consumers and 200 businesses.

According to Brightmail, spam is on the increase. In September 2001, 8 per cent of the email it scanned was rejected as spam. Last month 38 per cent (or 1.2 billion unsolicited messages) of 3.1 billion messages it scanned were junk mail.

Salem welcomed the recently ratified Electronic Data Protection Directive as the first step in legislating against spam. Under the directive, which EU member states are required to bring into national laws by October 2003, marketeers can only send commercial email to those who agree to receive it through opt-in agreements.

However because of the global nature of the spam problem, this does little to combat spam originating outside the EU. For that global legislation is needed. In the US some States, notably California, have passed laws against spam but Federal laws are still some way off, if indeed they ever come.

Combating spam requires legislation, effective enforcement (targeting those selling through spam as well as whose sending it) and effective filtering, according to Salem.

Yesterday Brightmail released version 4.0 of its spam filtering services, saying it has added features aimed at recognising sophisticated spam that was previously undetectable. The technology has been tweaked to detect "polymorphic spam attacks", where the spammer makes subtle differences in punctuation or spacing between messages as a means to try to fox signature-based spam filters. ®

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