New Antispam Tool Debuts For Small Business Server, Exchange

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Nemx Software next month plans to launch a new tool for customers using Microsoft's Small Business Server.

SecurExchange SBS Edition combines spam-control, antivirus and content-filtering components packaged and priced for small businesses, said John Young, president of Ottawa-based Nemx.

The product offers a variety of antispam tools. One option running either on the Exchange Internet mail connector or the Exchange SMTP gateway enables the software to drop sessions coming in from known spammers.

"Most products run on the Microsoft AV API, which ensures that all messages flowing through the system are delivered. They will not let you delete incoming messages. Our option lets you drop that session. If stuff is coming in that you don't like or you've told us to stop, we drop the connection, saving bandwidth [and disk space, with the added side benefit that if the messages don't get through, the recipient will end up coming off the spammer's list," Young said.

The software supports realtime Reverse Blacklists (RBLs). User companies pay anywhere from $200 to $2,500 per year, depending on company size, to hook up to these blacklist services. "The big thing about RBL is spammers cannot fake IP addresses," Young said.

John Marinac, a consultant with Compudyne, a Duluth, Minn., reseller, said he likes the flexibility this product affords. "Many of the other offerings have one or two ways to block spam, whereas this offers five or six ways. You can block based on message, headers, subject, content as well as register with RBLs. They give us all the options and we can really customize it," he said.

Spam, or unsolicited e-mail ranging from pornography to get-rich-quick schemes to ads for low mortgage rates, is becoming a top-of-mind problem for businesses of all sizes. Brightmail, an antispam leader catering primarily to ISPs and enterprises, estimates that 4.9 million spam attacks were launched last month, up from nearly 2 million in December 2001. The cost to customers in terms of wasted bandwidth and disk space to lost worker productivity is hard to estimate.

Nemx is concentrating only on the Microsoft Exchange portion of the mail market and has no plans for analogous products for Lotus Domino.

Microsoft promises that Exchange will remain an open product with hooks into third-party content filtering, antivirus and antispam tools. Earlier this summer, Chris Baker, lead product manager for Exchange Server, said Microsoft was weighing what it should build into Exchange when it comes to antispam capabilities.

"We have to see how much we're doing vs. what the partners are doing. Antispam is a big play for partners. We are still talking with them about what we should provide in the base product to make it easy for them to add value. The analogy is in the antivirus world, where we have a virus-scanning API that Symantec et al use. We let them tap in and interact right away," Baker said.

Microsoft will disclose more about what's going,and not going into,Titanium, the next release of Exchange Server, a beta of which is expected to ship this fall. Lotus has already said it is building some server-side antispam capabilities into Domino Release 6, due out later this year.

Greg Deckler, analyst with Ferris Networks, acknowledged in a note that Titanium will have better APIs for third-party filtering and antispam offerings. "This is good news for third-party vendors . . . however, they should be wary of Microsoft. There are numerous instances in the past of the firm stating one thing and then doing the exact opposite," he wrote.

The new Nemx product costs $495 for five users, $825 for 25 users and $1,249 for 50 users.

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