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Jewish World Review April 17, 2001 / 24 Nissan, 5761

Matt Branaugh

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Consumer Reports

Finally, a junk e-mail filter that works -- FOR businesses tired of watching employees wade through unsolicited messages offering free university diplomas, free vacations and promises of improved sexual performance, a new software application launched by a Broomfield, Colo., company might be appealing.

ESoft Inc., which makes Linux-based software designed for small- and medium-sized businesses to operate on the Internet, has launched software called SpamFilter. Junk e-mail commonly referred to as "spam" is filtered by the technology using a combination of databases and user preferences.

ESoft has moved aggressively into Internet security, a natural extension of the broadband business the company works closely with, spokeswoman Nina Piccinini said. Service providers partnering with eSoft, as well as value added resellers, feature the eSoft technology as they get businesses online.

Businesses buy InstaGate EX or EX2 to provide the firewalls that block unwelcome visitors to their Internet networks. When a business buys InstaGate, they gain access to eSoft's SoftPak Director, a Web site featuring a slew of security tools, including SpamFilter.

"As businesses get broadband in place, they immediately know they want firewall security in place. So this goes hand-in-hand with what we're doing," Piccinini said.

About 10 SoftPaks, ranging from anti-virus protection to Web filtering, are offered, and the company expects to have more than 30 SoftPaks by year's end. Businesses upgrade as they need to, Piccinini said.

InstaGate prices start at just under $1,000 and SoftPaks start at $199. Prices increase as the number of users increases.

SpamFilter compares incoming e-mail against databases, maintained by non-profit groups MAPS and ORBS, that list known spammers. From there, the software can navigate junk e-mail away from an inbox. Piccinini said MAPS and ORBS "do an excellent job keeping up" with spammers.

The cross-checks with the databases, coupled with customization, make SpamFilter unique, said Rob Peterson, a product engineer for the company.

The predecessor software to SpamFilter only allowed a user to type in addresses of unwanted e-mail senders, but the addition of the database checks makes the technology more sophisticated, he said.

Businesses can also customize addresses and domain names so that trusted e-mail and business-oriented e-mail can pass through to inboxes.

"The big thing for employers is wasted time for employees," Peterson said.

The company says a study by online research eMarketer shows spam accounting for 10 percent of all e-mail in the United States. By 2003, 75.6 billion e-mail messages will be unsolicited, according to eMarketer.

Since viruses can be passed through e-mail messages, Peterson said the software also defends networks. A worker opening an unsolicited e-mail to see its content can sometimes unleash a virus unsuspectingly, he said.

Matt Branaugh writes for the Daily Camera in Boulder, Co. Comment by clicking here.


© 2001, SHNS