Spam stopped in its tracks offsite

IT managers not wanting to touch their systems and networks in order to control spam should look into having their e-mail routed through a dedicated filtering service, says QBE Insurance's group IT security manager Murray Laracy.

QBE has effectively outsourced control of spam, viruses, and pornography to MessageLabs which filters all QBE's incoming e-mail on Hong Kong-based servers.

“The real beauty of this type of spam control is that MessageLabs owns the infrastructure and therefore requires no interference with our existing systems,” Laracy said.

Laracy described QBE’s spam problems before using MessageLabs' managed antispam service as typical for an organisation of its size.

“With several thousand incoming e-mails per day, user feedback and mail queues indicated that spam was becoming a real problem,” he said. “In February and March this year we had Anti-Spam under observation as there is always a risk with any form of e-mail blocking that genuine messages will be caught.”

Paul MacRae, director of MessageLabs, said productivity and bandwidth usage are the biggest issues facing companies.

“The MessageLabs solution is designed to stop the spam before it hits a corporate network, reducing business and cost impact,” MacRae said.

The service is provided on a per-user, per-month contract basis and although QBE is using the standard blacklist method rather than the more advanced heuristics (artificial intelligence) approach, Laracy claims hundreds of unsolicited messages are being stopped every day.

“Our UK office has been using MessageLabs for over 12 months so we had the opportunity of seeing its value before we committed to any contract.”

To illustrate the ROI of controlling spam, MacRae cited a MessageLabs commissioned report by Communique on the cost of spam per employee in the Australian enterprise.

“The cost - only from a productivity perspective – as [estimated by Communique] is $2470 per employee per year,” MacRae said. “Some of the analysts have it far higher, but I prefer the conservative view. Our RRP per user for Anti-Spam is only $US0.90 per user per month.

“The world and the heuristics is developed by us and is not available for re-sale,” MacRae said. “Nobody appears to have an exact model similar to ours in the Anti-Spam space. We can stop spam at the Internet level allowing you to apply policies through the appropriate department via a Web-based management tool.

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