ChoiceMail Eases AntiSpam Software Use While Effectively Fighting Off Unwanted E-mail Traffic


The objective of any antispam utility is to stop the onslaught of unwanted e-mail traffic. However, many solutions require such high maintenance that more time and energy is put into managing the utility than using it to fight spam.

VINCENT A. RANDAZZESE
Assistant Technical Editor

DigiPortal Software's ChoiceMail 2.52 not only detects and prevents spam, but is also easy to manage.
ChoiceMail does not use automatic filters, unlike most antispam solutions. Filters can be unreliable, blocking legitimate e-mail or failing to detect spammers' latest tricks. Plus, if users set filters too high, legitimate e-mails may not get through, and if they're set too low, spammers have easy access to inboxes.

ChoiceMail Enterprise 2.52 uses IP address checking, which blocks messages based on IP address ranges and can compare the IP addresses of incoming mail against the addresses of legitimate domains. The company claims this utility will cut down mail from unknown senders by about 10 percent.

The solution also uses a "challenge and response" approach to spam. The software responds to a message from unknown senders with an e-mail challenge to identify themselves. If the challenge is not answered, the software marks the e-mail and address as spam.

Unknown senders that receive an e-mail challenge are prompted to click on a link to verify their identity. The link takes the users to a Web page where they must enter three pieces of information: name, the reason for contact and a four-to-six digit code displayed on the screen that must be typed into an encrypted field. This method makes it difficult for spammers to automate the process.

In addition, back-end encryption deters spammers from harvesting information. The challenges also can be customized.

One drawback is that the technology is ill-suited for companies that rely on receiving unsolicited e-mail for their business, such as sales organizations whose prospective customers may be discouraged by the challenges.

The use of Virtual throw-away addresses allow users to receive purchase confirmation e-mail without a challenge. When customers make purchases online, they must provide a valid e-mail address to which a confirmation e-mail will be sent. With most antispam software, the confirmation never reaches its destination, since a response cannot be returned from an automated system. The virtual throw-away address option lets the online store send confirmation using that user's address. CM recognizes the user's address and allows it to pass through without being challenged. The user controls what online stores have and can use their address in this manner.

Installation of the product is wizard-driven, and most of the configuration is done upon installation. Outlook Express, for example, was automatically configured. The software also works with multiple POP3 and Web accounts.

CM 2.52 now uses a standard SQL database structure to store sender and address lists instead of plain text files, which reduces drain on a CPU and on memory requirements.

DigiPortal's one-year-old channel program provides telephone-based training and will offer Web-based training soon. Pricing starts at $350 for a single server license and 5 user licenses. Each additional individual license is $65. The vendor offers volume discounts beginning with 20 licenses, and often adjusts pricing for competitive scenarios. The average reseller margin is 38 percent. The software is covered by a 30-day limited warranty.

CHANNEL PROGRAM SNAPSHOTS
> CHOICEMAIL ENTERPRISE 2.52
COMPANY: DigiPortal Software
Sanford, Fla.
(407) 805-9582
www.digiportal.com
DISTRIBUTORS: Align IT, PC Fusion
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Note: Vendors can earn up to five stars for technical merit and five for their channel program. If the average of these two scores is four stars or greater, the product earns CRN Test Center Recommended status.