Modified Mail Could End Spam

The Titan Key, an anti-spam startup out of Honolulu, Hawaii, uses a challenge/response technology, but with a twist. “The problem with all anti-spam technologies,” says Peter Kay, president and founder of The Titan Key, “is that the spammer knows you’re there. As long as they know that the email address is good, they will keep sending spam.”

Everyone knows that spam is a problem on the Internet, but it is a particularly severe problem for ISPs because it harms loyal customers more than new customers. Kay says that his product reverses this trend.

“Normal mail servers follow a simple two-step process. First, the server asks who you are and who you’re trying to send to. Then, the server delivers the message, even if it contains a virus or spam,” says Kay.

“In between those two steps, we send an error message exactly as if the address was misspelled or does not exist,” explains Kay.

Then the software sends a note asking the sender to click on a link that will add them to the recipient’s address book. After that, the sender can correspond with the recipient.

The system, however, would still block newsletters, which can send from more than one email address, and e-commerce, which can involve a variety of unpredictable emails, sometimes from more than one domain.

To solve this conundrum, the Titan Key enables the creation of a temporary or permanent Virtual Private Mailbox (VPM). A new email address is created. The user chooses a number (usually between one and three). That is the number of domains that can send to this email address. All other domains will get the error message that the mailbox does not exist. The first domain (or first three domains) to contact this email address will be allowed to send to it as long as the VPM exists.

If, for any reason, the VPM is compromised (if, for example, an e-commerce database is sold to the wrong person), the VPM can be shut down.

Pricing and availability
The software is based on Microsoft .NET and uses an MS SQL Server database. It is designed to run as a separate appliance in front of the company’s message transfer agent (MTA). Wholesale pricing has not been set, but it will be based on the assumption that ISPs will be able to charge between $0.50 and $1.00 per month per user for the service.

The Titan Key will be on display at ISPCON Spring 2003 later this month.

Online resource:
Anti-Spam Directory

Reprinted from

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