Email product looks to reduce spam false positives

TrustSphere looks at the relationship between senders, which can be a better indication of whether a message is spam or not

A new product from TrustSphere is tackling the problem of email incorrectly flagged as spam, an irritating and potentially costly error for businesses.

The product, called TrustVault, analyzes the communication between the sender and recipient of an email over a few weeks, looking at how many messages are sent, how often in a day and how quickly.

TrustVault builds a kind of social graph between senders and receivers, and can overrule spam filters that might normally flag a message as suspicious when it isn't. It doesn't look at an email's content.

"When we see an email from a known trusted sender that is blocked, we are able to release it from quarantine or prevent it from going into quarantine if it [the product] is configured that way," said Manish Goel, TrustSphere's CEO.

Estimates of the percentage of messages incorrectly labeled as spam vary wildly. Goel said a typical figure cited is 3.5 false positives per million emails, but he said TrustSphere has audited companies that have a much higher error rate.

Statistics aside, important emails flagged as spam may never get read and could cost a company money in either lost business or other damage. Users may very well forget to check their spam filter's quarantine for valid messages, Goel said. Some antispam products don't have a quarantine.

Goel said spam filters get it right most of the time, but even small errors multiplied by great volumes of email can disrupt a business.

TrustVault can also help a company deal with a denial-of-service attack, when IT administrators may try to slow down network connections in order to deal with an attack. The product will reserve a narrow channel for communication with trusted senders, so legitimate email can still be exchanged, Goel said.

TrustVault works alongside other antispam software. It also works with a sister product, TrustCloud, which is a comprehensive report on domains and whether they have a good reputation and are not known for sending spam.

Mark Levitt, director of enterprise and software and communications at Strategy Analytics, said TrustVault is an innovative approach that overlays traditional antispam software. "False positives are a big problem," he said.

The product may hold the most value for companies for their top management who are heavily dependent on email, Levitt said. TrustVault will cost US$1 per user per month, Goel said.

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