SurfControl Tames Evolving SPAM Threat

As spam mail evolves it also is becoming more sophisticated, and many spam mail messages today often closely mimic legitimate e-mail. In addition, spammers often use viruses to spread their craft, while virus writers follow suit and use spam mail to spread their work.




Assistant Technical Editor

With organizations under constant threat, solution providers looking for a comprehensive, intelligent, flexible content-filtering solution to help customers battle spam and other unwanted e-mail can turn to SurfControl's Total Filtering Solution, which includes a Web filter, e-mail filter and instant messaging filter.

One key advantage of SurfControl's solution is its use of artificial intelligence (AI) adaptive reasoning technology to filter incoming mail. Specifically, the package's Virtual Image Agent (VIA) and Virtual Learning Agent (VLA) are two dynamic tools that work on the fly to inspect incoming e-mail content.

The VIA tool examines images in e-mails and determines whether they are inappropriate. VIA is much more advanced than simple skin-tone scanning seen in many other products, as it uses more than 22,000 algorithms to examine images. For example, the tool will look at the geometric distance between body parts; look for eyes, noses, ears and mouths; and will piece individual elements together to determine if an item is a face or body. The tool also examines colors, shapes and texture, to decide whether an image is a cartoon.

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The VIA tool can be adjusted for different degrees of sensitivity, so an organization can determine what gets through and what is unsuitable. Although the tool is effective, it is not an exact science by any means, and on occasion, customers will get a false-positive output.

The other AI tool unique to SurfControl is its VLA, which uses AI and human input to understand and recognize specific proprietary data. VLA was specifically designed to protect customers from accidental or malicious leakage of sensitive information. In an example, customers can teach the tool to accept or reject e-mail that contains words relating to specific policies or financial terms, and filter e-mail based on the route that the message is taking.

The tool can also be set up to filter e-mail based on addresses,so, for example, a vital piece of financial information cannot be sent to a private party's e-mail but allowed to be sent to a company's attorney.

Each of these agents come with additional subscription fees of $9 per user with a minimum of 500 users, which are added on to the initial price of $36 per user.

The SurfControl suite sits on the gateway. The Web filter can be used as a stand-alone sniffer or can be integrated with some other gateway device, such as a firewall or cache engine.

On the e-mail side, the tool acts as an SMTP relay so it sits on the gateway in front of the server or the suite and can be integrated directly with a Microsoft Windows Exchange server. Using it in an Exchange environment gives customers the option of filtering internal e-mails.

SurfControl's expertise lies in database management. The company's database currently contains more than 130,000 signature files and has the ability to examine multiple variants of e-mail.

Providing protection for a customer's network entails more than simply installing and administering a solution. Staying on top of new developments is important to maintaining a high level of network security. This is where the company shines. SurfControl has a dedicated global content team, which is constantly on the lookout for malcontents whose information it imports frequently into its database. Customers can decide how often they would like to receive the updates.

SurfControl's three-tiered channel program offers various levels of discounts, direct support from the company and sales resources. Other benefits include demo software, online and regional technical training sessions, an online resource center, dedicated account representatives and e-mail newsletters. The program's benefits vary based on revenue performance, solution expertise, certification training and support level.

The SurfControl Top Achiever Recognition (STAR) program is SurfControl's sales certification program for its authorized reseller partners. The STAR program educates reseller sales representatives about products and STAR-certified resellers are eligible for benefits such as customer leads and greater discounts on SurfControl products.

To become an authorized reseller, VARs must successfully pass the STAR sales and technical certification exams. Authorized resellers can take a brief online exam to become a STAR-certified reseller.

Average solution provider margins are 25 percent on the product. The $36-per-user price is based on an installation of 500 users. The customer can also buy individual elements of the suite based on bundling and size.


COMPANY: SurfControl
Scotts Valley, Calif.
(831) 440-2500
DISTRIBUTORS: Deloitte and Touche, Halifax, True North Solutions


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.