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Controversial email blocklist SORBS sold

GFI confirms purchase of reputation service

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GFI Software has confirmed the purchase of sometimes controversial spam blocklist provider SORBS for a reported $451,000.

Spam and Open Relay Blocking System (SORBS) has maintained a list of email servers suspected of sending or relaying spam since 2002. Inefficiencies in its spam blocklist database removal procedure, a controversial fines policy and the aggressive blacklisting of shared IP addresses have drawn criticism even from those also looking to clamp down on junk mail on the internet.

Citing an impending eviction by its University of Queensland web hosts, Australia-based SORBS publicly contemplated either selling or closing the service back in June. In the event the operation continued running as before until October when it found a white knight in the shape of GFI Security, a US based vendor of web and network security and management tools.

GFI confirmed the acquisition on Thursday in response to a query from El Reg. It didn't confirm the purchase price but did explain is plans to develop the service, which it already uses as a component of its GFI MailEssentials email security technology.

GFI is now actively developing plans for the future of SORBS, including SORBS 2.0 and methods to improve SORBS data and responsiveness.

Having a reputation service within GFI will allow us to provide a better service to our customers and to greatly enhance our standing in the anti-spam community as well as give us opportunities to report on spam trends and analyze real-time feeds in ways we have not previously been able to. We are very excited about this acquisition and look forward to the benefits in the months and years to come.

The creator of SORBS, Michelle Sullivan, has joined the company.

News of the purchase was first uncovered by blogger Jed Smith earlier this week. Smith reports that Sullivan, SORBS administrator, boasted of the purchase in an IRC chat session before declining to respond to follow-up questions. Sullivan's LinkedIn profile lists her as an engineering director with GFI since sometime in October.

Best practice in spam filtering calls for blocklists to be used only in conjunction with content analysis and other anti-spam technologies. GFI plans to develop SORBS dovetail with this general move while providing the resources of a commercial firm behind SORBS. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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