Safentrix Provides a Fresh Approach to Fighting Spam

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THE PROBLEM

This is a story anyone with an Email address will be familiar with. Open your Inbox in the morning and you will find tens (if not hundreds) of emails from people who have absolutely no idea who you are. These emails could be hawking the latest V****a clone or announce that you are the long lost heir of a Minister who has bequeathed $100 million (the catch being you just have to send the courier charges of $5000!).

By the time you are done weeding these emails out, you notice the email from your client saying that your meeting, scheduled for 1 PM has been advanced to 10AM. You glance at your watch and find that it is 10:30!

Junk emails (also known as SPAM) like above cause productivity loss of Millions of Dollars and sometimes cause severe financial damage through fraudulent means. Ever since emails became mainstream communication media in Business, Junk emails increased exponentially. Some estimates say that 90% of all email traffic is Junk.

THE (NOT SO PERFECT) SOLUTION

We have to admit one thing here. Identifying and eliminating SPAM is not easy at all. If the world has 100,000 Computer Viruses to track, it probably has Millions of SPAM to track, and even if you track all the SPAM’s, you would have some genuine emails that look like SPAM.

And some guy somewhere in the Pharma Industry will take offense that his email asking queries about V****a is blocked (because it has that word). So, it is not an easy job at all, identifying SPAM messages. And right from the onset, it was clear that it was going to be a catching up job.

However, many companies provide Anti SPAM solutions. They use technologies with weird sounding names like RBL, URIBL, HELO Verification, Bayesian Filtering, DKIM, SPF, Content checking etc. But their philosophy was identical.

  1. They would try to scan emails using all the jargons mentioned above,
  2. If they were reasonably convinced (in technical terms, probability of it being SPAM is 90% and above), they would put it in a Quarantine.

Now, quarantine is like a separate folder in your Email box. If you had used one of the free Email services like Yahoo! or Hot mail, Quarantine will be equivalent to your “Bulk Email” folder. Ideally, all SPAM’s should end up in Quarantine and all genuine emails in your INBOX. But, as mentioned earlier, SPAM identification is difficult at best (impossible at worst).

This means that occasionally you may find genuine emails in your Quarantine. (Technically these are referred to as “False positives”). You may also find some SPAM in Inbox (Technically referred to as “SPAM misses”).

Your organization implements one of the above Anti SPAM solution. You see better results. When you come in the morning, you find not so many emails in your Inbox. You could quickly go through official emails and start your work. This is the solution you want. This is pure Email bliss!

Well, so you thought, at least until the first time the email from your client landed in Quarantine. Since you never check the quarantine, you again missed the information of meeting being advanced and end up missing the meeting! Back to square one!

You start going through Inbox as well as your Quarantine daily. It is just that you can scan quicker than before as you have two different folders. You still have to scan a whole bunch of emails to make sure you did not miss out on important communication.

And the worse part is that you are told the Anti SPAM solution costs as much as hiring multiple secretaries (who can sift through your emails to delete SPAM).

To summarize, the current Anti SPAM solutions, while trying to their best, are not satisfactory due to:

  1. Administrative burden put on recipient due to the presence of a Quarantine, and
  2. Costs.

SAFENTRIX SOLUTION

SAFENTRIX has a fresh approach to the problem of SPAM. While the technology used by SAFENTRIX consists of pretty much the same jargons with weird sounding names (RBL, URIBL, HELO Verification, DKIM, SPF, etc.), SAFENTRIX differs in:

  1. Having no Quarantine
  2. Having a Free (Free as in beer, not as in speech) service option

Does it mean that SAFENTRIX never wrongly classifies an Email as SPAM?

Not at all. As explained before, SPAM identification is difficult at best and impossible at worst. This means, there are situations where SAFENTRIX does identify genuine emails as SPAM.

The difference is what SAFENTRIX does with such emails.

Any email that is classified as SPAM is rejected by SAFENTRIX at SMTP protocol level itself. This means that the Sender always gets back a bounce message. Typically the bounce message looks like the following:

552-Message categorized as SPAM.

552-If you feel it is mis-categorized, please visit

552-SAFENTRIX Web site to resend the email.

552 Your key is: caeb675710e2e7fac77c9834474f7040 (#5.6.1)

SAFENTRIX generates a unique key for each email thus rejected.

Now let us come back to the scenario where you missed emails from client informing of change of meeting time. We will look at what happens if you were using SAFENTRIX.

Say client sent this email the previous day. A bounce message like the one above, would have been received (by the client) within 10 minutes of his sending the email. Client now notices that the email has not reached you (this itself avoids a lot of misunderstanding) and the bounce message says something about SPAM.

Client goes to the site given in bounce message, enters all the details given, including the SPAM key. This white lists the rejected communication. Now, client resends the email and it reaches you fine.

Next morning the email is there in your Inbox and you go to the meeting at correct time.

Let us be a little pessimistic and say that client went off home immediately after sending an email to you and thus does not see the bounce message. Next day when he is in office, preparing for the meeting,

  1. He notices the bounce message,
  2. Realizes that you are not informed of the change in timing,
  3. And either informs you by other means (say phone) if that gives you enough notice,
  4. And if enough notice is not possible, postpones the meeting (without you having to do anything).

Contrast this with the situation where you missed the meeting because it was in Quarantine and client thinks that the email has been delivered to you!

SAFENTRIX approach is practical. Given the ability to white list and the fact that SAFENTRIX talks of “False positive” rates of 1 in less than 300,000 (i.e., for every 300000 emails delivered, less than one False positive occurs), one can be confident the genuine emails will always reach the user.

We need to mention one more thing. The key mentioned in the bounce message is specific to each message. It is an encrypted MD5 Hash of certain parameters of the email. This means that SPAMmer’s will not be able to white list their emails. This approach presents a solid block to SPAMmer’s while allowing the genuine senders through easily.

DID WE MENTION IT IS FREE?

The next big thing about SAFENTRIX is the availability of a Standard Edition, that is fully free. Not in terms of a 30 day trial or in terms of crippled functionality. Standard Edition is a full featured package which is available free for all times. All emails received by Standard Edition users will contain a one line text advertisement (like the one below) as a signature.

—–

STOP SPAM, STOP Virus and SAVE Bandwidth

—–

This could either be an advertisement from SAFENTRIX or one of its clients. SAFENTRIX Clients pay for these advertisements and this revenue is used for operations. That is how the SAFENTRIX Standard Edition is offered free.

So if an organization wants, it can get Email security fully free. Money for that is earned by SAFENTRIX through the one line advertisement appended to each email.

This means that you do not have to worry about the Free Service being discontinued at any point of time.

While this is not a terribly original idea, this is a good option available to the client.

Clients who do not want this advertisement can opt for the Enterprise Edition. Further, within the same organization, you can have Standard Edition and Enterprise Edition users and match costs to your budget.

This means that you can go ahead and deploy SAFENTRIX and still hire the multiple secretaries!

CONCLUSION

With the technical innovation of eliminating Quarantine and the commercial innovation of offering a Free service option, SAFENTRIX brings a fresh approach to an Anti SPAM solution.

In our opinion, it is worth checking out SAFENTRIX for your organization. The evaluation is free. You can try the Standard Edition and upon satisfying yourself with the performance, switch to Enterprise edition (or stay with Standard Edition).

Go ahead and try SAFENTRIX. After all, you have got nothing to lose except your SPAM emails!

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