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  |  January 12, 2004   |  Comments

Clearswift does a great deal more than anti-spam. It helps large businesses face such online challenges as regulatory compliance and the enforcement of corporate policies. Now its product suite is available to ISPs.

If you've got very very large customers or are considering serving your first multinational customer, you may want to get in touch with Clearswift. On November 17, 2003, the company announced it had reached 15,000 customers with a total of about 20 million end users. That's an average customer size of 1,333 end users.

Flagship customers include AT&T, NATO, Nokia, and the UK's Ministry of Defence.

Founded in 1982 as NET-TEL, the company is currently based in Reading, UK with offices in the U.S., UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Australia, and Japan. The company's products focus on email control, inspection, and management, with anti-spam and anti-virus being merely one component of the overall mission, which is to make corporate email safe.

The company's original mission was to help enterprise customers enforce email policies on behavior and etiquette . . . and to make sure that no intellectual property was leaving the company through email.

The latter mission required a sophisticated content analysis engine, which was soon also providing content filtering services. Anti-spam and anti-virus (through technology partners) are relatively more recent additions to the product suite.

Even more recently, Clearswift has added anti-spyware technology to its portfolio.

As spam threats increase and spyware proliferates, the company has responded by increasing the frequency of its software updates to eight times each day, once every three hours.

Clearswift's anti-spam technology does textual analysis, reverse DNS, fights spoofing, checks for open relays, and can use blacklists, phrases, and keywords to block spam. But the company's flagship product (MimeSweeper for enterprises, ESweeper for ISPs) is a self teaching solution.

The name of the product refers to minesweepers, defenceless ships that sail into neutral or even enemy waters to clear paths through minefields wide enough for warships. The bravery of British minesweepers during World War II is part of that nation's folklore. The company's press releases are a constant reminder of how dangerous the Internet is today, with spyware, spam, and viruses.

Greg Hampton, vice president of marketing for the U.S. office of Clearswift, says that most ISPs do not think carefully about their entry into the provision of anti-spam services. "The approach is usually not ROI intensive. Usually it's about fixing a problem now. The decision to provide anti-spam is usually reactive, not proactive."

Hampton says ISPs–and anyone looking at an anti-spam solution–need to look for a solution that can do the job. The software has to be able to analyze images and code as well as text to filter out picture-only porn and ads and also to prevent malware from infecting the email system.

He believes Clearswift's Mimesweeper will impress even the most hard-nosed geek. "It's designed to be OEMed," he says. "We expect consolidation in the anti-spam space, and we expect to survive."

Pricing and availability
The product is available now. Pricing was not available at press time.

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