Malicious code mauls free gateways

E-mail gateway appliance company Ironport Systems has the tough job of selling a solution that most organizations now get free of charge.

More than 80 percent of organizations are using 20 year-old freeware for their SMTP gateway such as Sendmail, Qmail and Postfix.

Settting up shop in Australia, Michael Bosch, managing director of Ironport Systems Australia and New Zealand, said the freeware currently in use isn't designed for today's harsh environment of malicious code and high volumes of spam.

Bosch has the tough job of convincing corporates who are using an open-source MTA to shell out for one of Ironport's appliances, but he says it isn't a hard sell citing customer examples.

While the company is new to the local market, it has a strong customer base in North America including CNN, Nasdaq, AOL, Dell and Walmart. "We are about rock-solid systems and high-volume e-mail so we are ideally suited to large enterprises such as ISPs or financial institutions," he said.

"We sell the business benefits of our solution. For example DoubleClick, one of our customers, had more than 300 Sendmail gateways; the company replaced it with 30 Ironport appliances; we have a replacement ratio of 10 to one.

"Our customers [have] the largest mail volumes on the planet."

Bosch isn't kidding when he points to CNN which sends out one million messages an hour when an event of world importance takes place and it needs to notify subscribers.

"Also, there is no support for Sendmail and it's pretty hard to configure to meet today's threats; our appliance is designed to improve security and harden organizations from DoS attacks," he said.

Ironport's C series (C60, C30 and C10) combines antivirus, antispam and mail routing policy management.

"It is not a HTTP proxy, we just do e-mail although our competitors try to do everything," Bosch added.

Describing SMTP as an outdated protocol, Ironport is seeking to change the standard but of course, there are competing proposals also under consideration.

SMTP's reputation is IronPort's main selling point: it maintains a list of dodgy SMTP servers called SenderBase, derived from complaints received by its ISP partners and through Spamcop, the spam reporting service which it acquired last year.

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