Spam rejection but no bouncing back to senders, SMX says

Instead of bouncing, SecureMX filters during the SMTP conversation as mail comes in

Contrary to reports in newspapers and blogs, managed mail startup SMX says that it does not bounce back spam to the alleged senders.

Founded by ex-Xtra staffers Thom Hooker and Jesse Ball, both of whom worked with email messaging at the ISP, and five other former Telecom employees, SMX launched its SecureMX service last week in Auckland.

A report in the Wellington newspaper Dominion Post stated that SecureMX bounces back spam to senders and that the service is 100% accurate. This is not correct, Hooker says.

Instead of bouncing spam, SecureMX filters during the SMTP conversation as mail comes in. This is similar to how the open source antispam product Spam Assassin works, and means there is no need to deliver the message to a special “spam inbox” and filter it there.

Since spammers usually forge the sender address, bouncing back messages is widely considered to be an extremely bad idea. Hooker adds that it’s also in-efficient, as doing so requires the message to be delivered, classified as spam, and then a new message to be created for the bounce.

All that happens now is that a message classified as spam as it is received leads to the server transmitting an error code to the sending server. It is then up to the sending server to notify whoever it was that sent the spam through it. This, says Hooker, is how the internet SMTP mail transport protocol works.

SecureMX uses Cloudmark’s spam filtering software and Hooker says that it comes close to 100% accuracy. However, no antispam product is totally accurate, Hooker says, but SecureMX is substantially better than competing services that only manage 92% to 95% accuracy.

To handle large mail volumes, Hooker says SMX has licensed the Intermail platform from Openwave. This is the mail platform used by Verizon, Telstra, Xtra and other carriers.

SMX adds its expertise, says Hooker, and simply removes the task of managing mail from the client organisations, so their staff can be transferred to more productive tasks.

SMX is seeking $1 million from investors to assist it to market its offering overseas.

“We’ve already got a couple of clients in Australia,” Hooker says, so that will be the company’s first choice for an overseas presence. If that takes off, plans may extend to Asia, Europe or South Africa. There are a number of Kiwi -companies doing well [in South Africa], he says.

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