ActiveState fights spam

Officials from a small company that already fights unwanted commercial e-mail for the U.S. Coast Guard and two national laboratories are hoping the new release of their product will add to their federal presence.

ActiveState released Version 4.0 of its PureMessage software May 6.

As "spam" proliferates, dozens of companies have sprung up with offerings to fight it, and government agencies are buying.

The tricky question that software vendors have to solve is how to eliminate unwanted e-mail without accidentally zapping some messages that recipients need to receive.

The new PureMessage product can run several tests on an e-mail message to determine if it is likely to be spam, said Chris Kraft, ActiveState's director of product management. In addition, the product includes policy administration capabilities that can restrict the content of both incoming and outgoing messages.

The spam problem has changed in the past few months, he said. "What we found when we surveyed our customers late last year was that the primary driver [for blocking spam] was productivity loss."

"In the past six months, spam has grown and compounded so much...that the focus has shifted from productivity to liability," Kraft continued.

Federal agencies are trying to find good solutions to the problem, said Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting Inc. in Jenkintown, Pa.

"It's worse in some parts of the government," he said. "The highly secured Defense Department networks are pretty well protected. Civil agency networks are more vulnerable." Although most civilian agencies have started doing some filtering to limit the amount of spam, a lot still gets through, he said.

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