I think there are more external threats, but probably more internal breaches. When McColo was taken down, we saw an immediately decrease in the volume of both spam and malware, which shows the impact these sorts of organised criminals can have. Not for long – it was back up and running pretty quickly. But there is still a significant threat from insiders – and not always intentionally: often people download malware without realising it. I imagine that with the number of layoffs we’re seeing, and everyone having to tighten their belts a bit, that there will be an increase in financial scams.
With the constant evolution of threats, what kind of technology challenges does Network Box face?
I think the challenge the whole industry faces is how to keep up with the scale of the problem. The sheer numbers of blacklisted sites, for example, or new malware produced, are staggering. We processed 2.7 million signature updates in 2008 alone. We operate PUSH technology, which means that we push out updates immediately to Network Boxes sited in client offices, which means that as soon as we have an update, our clients have it. This really helps us ensure our customers have the latest protection where traditional PULL technology requires the customer to ensure the update has been carried out and this frequently does not happen or happens slowly.
What are your future plans? Any exciting new projects?
We’re launching a new game-changing anti-spam product in the next couple of months, called eMail Relationship. It changes the way we look at spam, by not just analysing content and IP address (though it will also do that), but by applying learning from the behaviour of both the email sender and the recipient, to understand which emails the recipient wants, and which are spam. It will make it almost impossible for spammers to use their existing databases. It works by combining a number of approaches based around the reputation of the sender, and the behaviour of both sender and recipient, as well as traditional filters, to give a ‘trust’ score to each email based on the relationship between email users. We are very excited about its potential and really think it could change the way spam is handled.
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