Brightmail bags Bill's spam solution

AUCKLAND (02/13/2004) - Anti-spam filtering company Brightmail Inc. doesn't believe Bill Gates's answer to spam will work in isolation.

Company founder, Enrique Salem, was in Sydney this week for the opening of the regional office and says while he welcomes any support in the war on spam, Gates' proposed three-step solution confuses two of the issues.

"On the one hand he wants to change the way we fundamentally send and receive e-mail. That's just not going to happen overnight."

Salem likens it to extending every road in Auckland by three feet.

"It's just not practical to try to replace SMTP as the basic protocol."

Gates had suggested some kind of economic barrier to sending e-mail as well -- users who sent unsolicited e-mail would be charged for it.

"But that's dependent in large part on knowing who the sender is -- if we knew that, we'd have solved the spam problem immediately."

Instead, Salem favors a three-fold approach that includes technology, like Brightmail's filtering service, legislation and education.

"We need to teach end users not to open these e-mails and not to reply to them and we need to teach companies that sending spam isn't the way to go to bring in new customers."

Salem claims Brightmail now filters around 15 percent of the world's e-mail and has some 300 million e-mail addresses using its service. In New Zealand both TelstraClear and Telecom use Brightmail to filter spam.

"We're launching a new service called Brightmail's Reputation Service that will help users to fight spam -- basically there will be a button on their e-mail client that allows them to say 'this is spam' and send it to us directly."

Salem says using the end users as an additional layer of filtering will help limit spam's effectiveness.

"It's a struggle but I do think we'll have the problem licked in the next few years. Maybe not two like Bill suggests, but three or four would certainly be possible."

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