Taking The Spam Fight To The Gateway

    December 15, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

The barbarians are at the gate, and only need a brief window of opportunity to invade systems, capture credentials, and report back to their masters to wreak havoc across a swath of userland.

Those threats arrive regularly in massive spam onslaughts, and continue to exhibit a focus on exploiting applications on the Windows desktop. This week a third new zero-day Microsoft Word exploit became known after McAfee noted its existence a little more than a week after attackers began hammering at the first two Word zero-day flaws that have been uncovered in December.

Filtering email at the client and server levels places great demands on those systems and their supporting networks carrying that spam traffic. The potential profit available to criminal spammers to be reaped from credulous end-users has overwhelmed efforts aimed at curbing them.

While it would be nice to just sit back and hope the spammers eventually see the evils of their ways and cancel their accounts on Russian server farms, thwarting what has become a heavily criminal enterprise will require a global government effort.

Until then, it falls to the technology world to battle the evil that has sprung from the abuses of RFC 822 by the bad guys. Instead of letting spam into a network, companies like Sophos and others want companies to make a stand at the gateway, preferably with a spam-fighting email appliance.

Sophos has its ES4000 device, which they noted has been deployed with a marketing and supply chain support firm called Prolog in the U.K. Symantec offers the Mail Security 8220 Appliance, and Barracuda Networks has its Spam Firewall device in its product line.

Enterprise users on company networks of any size would probably benefit from a productivity standpoint if their firms deployed gateway solutions. The nuisance of cleaning junk messages from the inbox, and the time necessary to do so, would be reduced.

A well-configured gateway supported by its distributor takes the spam away from numerous machines and focuses the effort to stop it at a single point. That helps out the company deploying it.

The greater issue would be whether or not to deploy such gateways at ISPs. Not just as outward facing devices, though. The real achievement would be if more ISPs with zombied machines pumping out spam through their networks turned such a gateway inward, and stopped the flow of spam while still keeping port 25 open for legitimate customer needs.

Until then, the battle shifts to the gateway.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.