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Cloudmark Cuts Spam Filter Price For Small Businesses

Cloudmark, a provider of anti-spam technology, is introducing a new lower-priced version of its desktop software. The software, Cloudmark DesktopOne, screens out spam to prevent end users from being victimized by viruses, phishing schemes and other threats. While a consumer edition of the product is available for free, the Pro Mode version protects multiple e-mail address and features a Web interface for administrative purposes. The Pro Mode service is $19.95 a year for a license to protect up to two computers, plus $9.95 a year for an additional license for one computer each. The software was previously priced at $39.95 per year.

Cloudmark takes a two-pronged approach to fighting spam, according to Jamie Tomasello, abuse operations manager for Cloudmark. Like other spam fighters, Cloudmark searches for common fingerprints of spam, such as the reputation of the Internet protocol address, the domain name, the sender or a "call to action URL" in the body. But Cloudmark also manages a Global Threat Network, on which ISPs, other network administrators and individual spam "reporters" identify spam and share that information with others.

"All that information about whether a message is spam or legitimate comes back into our system and becomes a vote on the final disposition of that message and protects people from receiving those messages again in the future," she says. The Global Threat Network emulates the principles of "crowdsourcing" in which a large group of people give their opinion about whether something is spam, and the wisdom of the crowd reaches a consensus. Over time, individual reporters build credibility. "If you tend to report accurately ... then you'll get a sense of trust and your reports will have more weight," says Tomasello.

Although numerous ISPs and security vendors offer spam-filtering, Cloudmark claims its software is more accurate because the company is dedicated to spam filtering--a claim that competitors such as Cisco Systems, Symantec, McAfee, Sophos and Barracuda Networks would surely dispute. Tomasello also says the company has a near-zero instance of false positives, in which legitimate e-mail is identified as spam.

New research from Harris Interactive shows that despite technological efforts to identify and block spam, the problem persists. The survey, which was commissioned by Cloudmark, shows that 42 percent of adults surveyed in the U.S. reported that they have received more spam over the last 12 months than usual. In addition, 35 percent of them report that it is becoming more difficult for them to identify spam among legitimate e-mails. Forty percent report seeing more spam related to social networking sites. Spammers often devise new schemes around popular trends, and the latest is sending messages purporting to come from social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The survey also showed that 38 percent of those surveyed admit to responding to a spam message.