Brightmail's anti-fraud services target spoofers

FRAMINGHAM (10/03/2003) - Catering to corporate customers who want more than just junk-mail protection from their anti-spam vendor, Brightmail Inc. this week announced a new anti-fraud service and the addition of Symantec Corp.'s anti-virus software to its gateway product.

Brightmail's anti-fraud service aims to minimize the damage caused by fraudulent e-mail campaigns that "spoof" a company's brand. Spammers launch e-mail campaigns that look like messages sent by well-known companies, realizing that recipients are more likely to open an e-mail from an established brand than from a random name.

Sometimes these e-mails will send recipients to a Web site also branded with the company's logo, ask them to enter personal information, including Social Security number, and steal their identity, says Paul Bruno, product manager at Brightmail. The company estimates approximately 10 percent of the e-mail scanned by its Probe network - a collection of 2 million decoy e-mail accounts the company uses to gather intelligence on spam - are fraudulent.

The company's new service detects e-mail fraud, usually by figuring out that the Web link embedded in the e-mail links to a phony Web site. Brightmail then alerts the company whose brand has been stolen and blocks the fraudulent messages from arriving in mailboxes of its anti-spam software users.

Brightmail is in a good position to offer anti-fraud services because its Probe network captures a large quantity of unsolicited e-mail, one analyst says. "They're watching what's going on, and they're in a position to be able to track (fraudulent e-mails) and provide this service," says Jan Sundgren, an industry analyst at Forrester Research.

Brightmail also announced last week an upgrade to its Anti-Spam Enterprise Ed-ition software that includes a version of Symantec's gateway anti-virus offering. The anti-virus software is sold as a separate module, says Carlin Wiegner, Brightmail's enterprise product manager.

The company also has increased the software's ability to catch spam in Version 5.1 with the addition of heuristic technology, Wiegner says. Heuristics identify unwanted e-mail messages by looking for telltale signs common in spam, such as excessive use of capital letters or multiple colors.

The addition of heuristics makes Brightmail's software more effective in catching spam without adding to the number of false positives, or wanted e-mail, that the software catches. "We're in a position now where we feel we've invented better (heuristic) technology to get us to 95 percent accuracy," Wiegner says. With Version 5.0, Brightmail's accuracy rate for catching spam was 90 percent.

Brightmail's enterprise software, which began as a product for ISPs, competes with packages from companies such as ActiveState Corp., Cloudmark Inc. and Sunbelt Software Inc., and with services from FrontBridge Technologies Inc., Postini Inc. and others.

Brightmail's Anti-Spam Enterprise 5.1 software costs about US$1,500 per year for 49 users; additional users cost $14 per user, per year. Pricing for the Symantec anti-virus module will be announced next week. No pricing was available for the anti-fraud service.

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