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Antivirus firm adds spam filter

Trend Micro is joining the race to offer antispam software to keep unwanted email off corporate networks.

Antivirus firm Trend Micro is joining the race to offer antispam software to keep unwanted email off corporate networks.

eManager will be available in mid-August as an option for InterScan VirusWall 3.0, Trend's gateway software for scanning Internet traffic before it enters a corporate network to halt viruses and other unwanted content. eManager scans incoming email keywords, domains, and addresses.

"Corporate networks have as much as 30 percent of email that is spam," said Daniel Schrader, Trend Micro's director of product marketing. "It's often a bandwidth hog because of traffic, so corporations want to get rid of it."

The software also scans outgoing email based on keywords to check for employees sending proprietary or inappropriate information outside the company via email.

While spam is seen as a problem everywhere, corporations have more latitude in how they can filter for it for employees.

ISP Netcom, for instance, briefly filtered customers' email for keywords, earning it the wrath of its membership.

eManager blocks spam before it reaches a company's mail server. It includes a list of common spam sources, updated monthly by Trend Micro, and a customizable list of sources. The filter checks message headers (to, from, cc, and subject fields) to determine the origin of messages, and checks the message for keywords and phrases.

Other companies already offer spam filters, the most recent being Bright Light Technologies, which this week announced a beta version of its antispam software.

Berkeley Software Designs also offers a filter for spam called MailFilter, and, like Trend Micro, maintains an updating service for its blacklist of spammers.

Sendmail also includes antispam tools in its Internet email software. Firewall vendor Trusted Information Systems last year announced an email filter as part of its firewall. TIS has been acquired by Network Associates, which also offers antivirus software.

Trend Micro, which has filed to go public next month on the Tokyo stock exchange, said its server-based antivirus software also blocks viruses and malicious code such as hostile Java applets and malicious ActiveX controls.

"It's a threat of the future, not a threat of today," said Schrader, admitting that so far malicious applets haven't shown up on corporate networks. "There's a lot of smoke, but we have not yet seen the fire."

eManager uses policy-based filters, implemented centrally by an MIS department, for specific people or departments and for different times of the day.

The email manager also checks for large attached files and can delay their delivery until off-peak hours, thus conserving network bandwidth for other uses during business hours. It also generates graphs of statistical data on inbound and outbound email traffic.

The filter for outgoing email uses keywords and synonyms and allows blocked email to be deleted, quarantined for review, or saved.

VirusWall ships Monday, priced at $816 for 25 users, including the eManager software, which also will be available separately. VirusWall currently runs on Windows NT, with Unix versions due in two months.

Janet Kornblum contributed to this report.