Porn filter on email easily tricked

Companies protecting their email system from smut with PORNsweeper software from Content Technologies Holdings might have a false sense of security due to the fact that inventive mail-users can bypass the software blockade.

          Companies protecting their email system from smut with PORNsweeper software from Content Technologies Holdings might have a false sense of security due to the fact that inventive mail-users can bypass the software blockade.

          Content Technologies, a subsidiary of Ireland-based online security consultant Baltimore Technologies last week acknowledged there are ways around its PORNsweeper.

          "If the image is messed with, PORNsweeper won't catch it," says Jonathan Tait, European product marketing manager for Content Technologies.

          "PORNsweeper works with colour images. If you use image editing software to turn an image into a negative that will trick the software," Tait says.

          PORNsweeper, which was launched in September, is server-based software that analyses images as they enter an email system. System managers can set filtration rules to reflect company policy. PORNsweeper is an add-on module for Content Technologies' MAILsweeper.

          The analysis includes scanning images for the colour of human skin in the pixels and screening these pixels to determine various statistics about the image, Tait says. Nude or pornographic images often contain more skin pixels than other images.

          The software is sold as the ideal tool to protect organisations from "exposure to legal liability, damage to corporate identity, hostile working environments, abuse of resources and loss of productivity," according the company's promotion literature.

          Recent events have shown that this is an issue for employers. Several companies, including mobile phone operator Orange and Dow Chemical, have fired staff for downloading lewd images and sharing those with colleagues.

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